You Can Do This! 

8 Best Practices for implementing an AAC device

  1. Parents can’t teach their child a language they don't know themselves

    • Its great if you have an therapist or teacher to help and support you, but YOU as the parent have more time with your child than anyone else!  You know your child best, you can motivate them better than anyone else.  When you use the device (AKA their language)... so will they! 
       

  2. Customize the device for your child

    • ​Start with a large grid size - 7x11 or 6x10 minimum in Proloquo2go, 80 or 60 minimum in TouchChat

    • You don't need to model all the buttons right away, but studies show they should all still be available so your child has access to language as they grow. If your child appears to be overwhelmed visually, or they have physical challenges with the buttons, you can make changes, but PLEASE don't limit their language from the start. Always presume competence and give robust language a try... then adjust as needed. 

    • Use the customization tools available to make things easier on them - customize skin tone, voice, and anything else that will help your child connect to their device. Use the color code settings in Proloquo2go to make visual tracking way easier. 

    • Add lots of motivating buttons -  favorite things, foods, toys, characters, people, places, folder for their special interest, etc... ​

    • Edit the buttons to use real photos for things like people, favorite places, favorite toys, wherever it makes sense 

    • Add buttons in a respectful location - don’t just throw favorite people or things on the Home Screen, put people in the people folder and toys in the toy folder, etc. It helps the child map out in their mind where to look for things no matter what, without being confused.​
       

  3. Make communication fun and rewarding! 

    • Have good energy, be creative, and make sure there are lots of opportunities to learn & communicate! 

    • Don't ever make the AAC device a negative thing or a chore - Don't create tasks to force a child to use the device before they are ready.

    • Teaching someone to use a device should NOT involve grabbing their finger and forcing them to say things... the internet is full of ways to model and teach, be respectful (use hand UNDER wrist instead of hand over hand)

  4. Children are ABSOLUTELY allowed to explore and play on their device!

    • Do not take it away, correct them, discipline them, hide/delete buttons, or lower the volume just because a child is hitting buttons repeatedly. 

    • People have a right to explore their own voice, and they will learn how to use it even faster if they are intrigued by it - Do not see any use of the device as a negative thing. 

  5. Model model model... then model some more!

    • The more exposure they have, the more they will see how powerful communication can be! 

    • Model without expectation - Use their AAC device to talk about about everyday things/activities, without requiring their attention or response

    • Model with opportunity - When engaging in something highly motivating activity (swinging, eating a snack, tickling, playing with a favorite toy), model something repeatedly and then create an opportunity for the child to engage (organically).  

    • Start slow, one button at a time, and then build on it. Always work at one level above where the child is.

      • Example - if you are just starting with the device, you should model something like “grape” and hand the child a grape. Once they know that the buttons mean something, and perhaps push the grape button to get a grape… then you model things like “yummy grape” Or “I want grape” or “green grapes” or “grape please”. After they know a couple buttons, then build on it from there (and so on).

    • Don't focus on "filler words" in the beginning.  Words like "more" or "please" are too vague and they are not a priority when learning to communicate. Model words like "pretzel" "pizza" "toy" "park" "mommy" "school" "yes" "cry" etc...  - model things with immediate meaning.
       

  6. Keep the device in guided access at all times

    • It cannot be seen as anything other than a communication device right now or it will likely ruin the opportunity!

    • Kids should never see the AAC app as a negative thing, and if they know you can unlock the app and get to photos or games or YouTube, they will see the AAC app as torture and constantly try to get out of it (instead of learning to use it)​

    • When someone becomes a more confident communicator, they can use the device for more than one app... but right now, its way too much of a risk to take. 
       

  7. Keep the device nearby at all times

    • People shouldn't have to pause their thought process to "run to a designated area" and get their device.

    • If communication on AAC becomes labor intensive or a chore, why would they want to do it? Until they become motivated enough to carry it around themselves, then the adults need to help make sure it is always around, so they can express a thought anywhere at any time (and parents/teachers can model anywhere at any time).  
       

  8. Everyone learns at their own pace, it’s a marathon… not a sprint

    • Give them grace to learn on their own timeline, there is no need to rush!

    • Don’t panic if they don't catch on right away and please don't compare them to others... stay positive, have good energy, and just keep modeling the device.
       

Tutorials and Important Info!

Proloquo2Go

We created a YouTube playlist that will walk you through how to setup the device step-by-step on Proloquo2Go. The videos also include information as to WHY you want to make certain configuration choices, so please watch each one, even if they don't apply yet. 

https://youtube.com/playlist?list=PLSJ3ZOmeRnBhkCK9FMRcXXR4FOcRhLKyN

TouchChat

We created a YouTube playlist that will walk you through how to setup the device step-by-step on TouchChat . The videos also include information as to WHY you want to make certain configuration choices, so please watch each one, even if they don't apply yet. 

https://youtube.com/playlist?list=PLSJ3ZOmeRnBidrxR2BP0H5QqU7K60cCwo

Modeling

Modeling is the key to success, after customization, so it's good to watch as many of the videos in this second playlist as you can. Some are a bit cheesy, but overall they will get you in the right mindset for modeling success

https://youtube.com/playlist?list=PLSJ3ZOmeRnBhwypnNuIOYJ_uOr5cOjvCw

Family Sharing

 Family Sharing allows you to install the AAC application on any Apple device in your family 
 

Setting up Family Sharing:
https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT201088

Downloading apps in Family Sharing: 
https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT201085

Instagram Resources

Here are some Instagram accounts you should check out and follow (If you haven't already): 
 

 

  • Proloquo2Go: AFriendForLillybug,  GraciellaBlooms, MotherhoodPhasing, Embracing The Spectrum, and We believe in Darcy 

  • TouchChat: LoveHopeAndAutism, Paws4Levi, Tinkerhatch and JinaSayHello
     

  • AMAZING AAC Resources: AAC Coach, meaningful speech, Emily Diaz SLP, Chicakdee.SLP, BohoSpeechie, Nigh Functioning Autism, Just Keep Stimming, AAC Innovations, Mrs Speechie P, KPowell SLP, and  OmazingKidsAAC

KEEP THIS IN MIND 

Always remember this rule of thumb when it comes to therapy, school, family, and general AAC use  - If you wouldn't do something to a speaking child... then it shouldn't be done to a non speaking child! 
 

  • Do they "mute" a speaking child who is talking too much?  No! So they can't mute your child's device or take it away.  

  • Do they model language (say words) for a speaking child?  Yes! So they should model buttons for your child.  

  • Do they require a speaking child to go to a special table to communicate?  No! So they shouldn't make your child go somewhere specific to use the device.

  • Do they force a speaking child to repeat themselves with a full sentence (or any other manner)?  No!  So they shouldn't make your child "say it on their words" or "say it vocally" when they have already communicated in some fashion

  • Do they take away language or tape a speaking child's mouth shut because they "aren't ready"? NO WAY!  So they shouldn't deny access, limit buttons, remove buttons, or make a smaller grid for your child 

  • Do they make a speaking child accommodate their own lack of experience or education?  NO!  So they shouldn't try to make you change your child's AAC app, or deny the AAC, just because they don't have enough education or experience with it (or they prefer a different one)

  • Do they allow other children to take a speaking child's voice or force them to say things?  No!  So no one should ever force a non speaking child to share their AAC device with other children... it is THEIRS. 

IEP Info

If your child is in public school, you will want to call an emergency IEP meeting about the AAC device ASAP. Adding the AAC device to their IEP puts everything down in writing so the school is required to use the AAC (don't just take their word for it). 

 

Some great topics to discuss/request when meeting with your school team

  • Ensure the teacher & aids will have the device available to your child at all times, it should not be stored in their backpack and it should never be taken away for any reason

  • If they have concerns about it being a distraction or being used for anything other than AAC, reassure them by telling them it stays in guided access, it is not a toy, it is their VOICE

  • While in guided access, it cannot be considered a "distraction or disruption" anymore than a vocal child is

  • Ensure they will assist with modeling and communication, just like they do with every other child

  • Ensure they do not use instruction methods that YOU have not approved (such as hand over hand, or rigid trials)

  • Ensure they do not make changes to the device without your permission, or better yet - have them request all changes through you (so you can make sure things are done correctly, and in your child's best interest)

  • The use of an AAC device is protected under IDEA Section 300.105 - and should be added to the IEP without issues in order to receive FAPE

  • If your school is fighting you on the use of a communication method for your child... It may be a good time to evaluate the situation and ensure they have your child's best interests at heart

IEP Resources

If you want more info about IEPs or need help from experts - check out (and message) these amazing accounts on Instagram: 

 

  • CourtneyBurnetteAdvocate (she specializes in AAC)

  • ItsABaskinWright (Lisa is awesome and so helpful)

  • CatherineWhitcher (runs a master IEP Coach Mentorship and puts out tons of free info)

  • MasterIEPCoach - most Master IEP coaches offer free consultations

Facebook Resources

Here are some facebook groups you can join for awesome info and support:

 

  • Ask me, I'm an AAC User

  • AAC Through Motivate, Model, Move out the way

  • Assistiveware Family Members AAC Community

Assistiveware Online Training

Assistiveware (creator of Proloquo2Go) has amazing training online, we highly recommend viewing all their material (at least for ideas). There are also YouTube videos for almost anything, just do a quick search for anything you are trying to do, and you should find some decent options. Assitiveware.com

Assistiveware Proloquo2Go YouTube AAC Playlist
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLwsltfWrCHQz68QZooZtwr5NVOMoS9ZqM


Assistiveware (AAC Creator) Online Training

https://www.assistiveware.com/on-demand-aac-training-videos

Saltillo
Online Training

Saltillo (creator of TouchChat) has some training available online, we highly recommend viewing all their material (at least for ideas). There are also YouTube videos for almost anything if you just do a quick search for what you are trying to do. 

Saltillo (AAC Creator) Online Training
https://touchchatapp.com/videos?category=3&page=1

Saltillo TouchChat AAC Playlist
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL8_c51K6963fv1IjyVkBlLPm9WCiwwIxx