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You Can Do This! 

8 Best Practices for Implementing an AAC device
NOTE: This is just a "short" version of Best Practices - For the best information, visit our AAC Best Practice Page
No matter which version you read, PLEASE take lots of notes to help prepare you for this journey! 

 

  1. Parents/Caregivers 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, 8x10 or 7x7 minimum in TD Snap. 

    • 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. 

      • Think of the keyboard analogy - when we teach little kids to type on a keyboard, we often start by showing them a-s-d-f or a-b-c... but we don't remove all the other letters!  They still need access to a full keyboard, they just focus on what they are learning for the time being. 
         

    • 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 and will motivate them, but you don't need photos for everything... symbols aren't a bad thing, they help generalize

    • 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.
       

    • IMPORTANT - Do not customize the device so much that major functionality (or language) is lost. 

      • Example - adding phrases/gestalts is a great idea for those that need them, but don't remove a bunch of core language in the process. AAC users still need access to ALL language, even after you add phrases for them, and they should be able to CHOOSE how & what they wish to communicate - don't box them in!​
         

  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 a 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).  

    • 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.

    • 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 can vocally say "Lets eat some grapes" then you model the word “grape” on the device, 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).
         

      • Think of teaching the AAC Device like teaching someone to speak Spanish - its a new language:

        • You cannot teach someone ANY Spanish, if you NEVER speak to them in Spanish

          • People need someone around them to model a language, in order to learn a language​

        • You cannot teach someone ANY Spanish, if you always speak to them in full paragraphs

          •  Start by modeling single words, then increase as they learn
             

  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

    • Some kids catch on day 1, some take a few weeks, some take months - all timelines are GOOD

    • We want them to be motivated to communicate and authentically learn their language... the goal is not to FORCE them to talk or TRAIN them to push buttons on command.

    • 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

YouTube playlist that will walk you thru 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. 


Launch this playlist to start configuring your device: 


Training from the app creator: 

Proloquo2Go en español:


TouchChat 


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. 
 

Launch this playlist to start configuring your device: 


Training from the app creator: 





TD Snap

YouTube playlist that will walk you through how to setup the device step-by-step on TD Snap . We did not create these videos ourselves, so please let us know if you need assistance with anything not covered. 
 

Launch this playlist to start configuring your device:  

Additional information and training: 


 

LAMP

YouTube playlist to help you configure LAMP.  This program is not easy, you need to learn as much as possible to be able to set it up and customize it. Please work with an SLP or specialist if you have one available 
 

Launch this playlist to start learning about your device:  

Additional information and training: 


 

Modeling


Modeling is the key to success, after customization, so it's good to watch as many of the videos in this playlist as you can. 


Instagram Resources

AMAZING AAC Resources:

  • AAC Coach, Meaningful Speech, Emily Diaz SLP, Chickadee.SLP, BohoSpeechie, Beautiful Speech Life, Nigh Functioning Autism, Just Keep Stimming, AAC Innovations, Mrs Speechie P, KPowell SLP, AAC.And,Me and OmazingKidsAAC

Proloquo2Go: 

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

TouchChat:

  • KillianAndKo, LoveHopeAndAutism, Paws4Levi, Tinkerhatch and JinaSayHello
     



School & Therapy Centers


The AAC device is your child's "voice", which means they have a right to take it everywhere. However, just because you send the device to places like school or therapy, do not assume they are using it correctly or at all. Share all the information below with your school or therapy center, ensure your child is being properly supported with their device.  
 

Youtube Playlist - How to use AAC in the classroom

 


       IEP Info

If your child is in public school, you will want to call an emergency IEP meeting about the AAC device ASAP. If in private school or an ABA clinic, please still get the device added to whatever document applies. 

 

Some great topics to discuss/request for the IEP:

  • The use of an AAC device is protected under IDEA Section 300.105

    • It should be added to the IEP without issues in order to receive FAPE

    • An evaluation is not actually required for a child that already has a device, that's just unnecessary red tape
       

  • Teacher & aids should have the device out and 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

    • Adults should ensure the device is brought to the table, the lunch room, the playground, etc...

      • Don't force an AAC user to wear their device or carry their device, unless they are motivated and excited to do so

  • The AAC device should be modeled throughout the day, like a visual support for our AAC users

    • Ex: The teacher can say "how many pink circles do we see" and then model the "pink" button​

    • Ex: The teacher can say "What day is it?" and then model the "day" button... and then "Monday" (or whatever applies)

    • Ex: The teacher can say "Its time to go to lunch" and then model the "lunch" button

      • Its not that difficult to work the device into the day to day learning activities
         

  • The child shouldn't have AAC goals, they should have educational goals... its the teacher or aid or therapist that should have goals to work on the device and model throughout the day for the child

    • Modeling should never happen as a form of punishment and modeling should not be followed by a demand - Keep modeling POSITIVE!

      • Model with good energy, make it fun and rewarding - be creative!

      • The goal is to help children learn to communicate in an organic fashion, just like we do with vocal speech

      • Modeling can start slow and build, but the first step is making sure the team gets used to the device... parents can send walkthrough videos or info sheets to help! 
         

  • If teachers or aids have concerns about the device 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
       

  • No one should use instruction methods that parents have not approved (such as hand over hand, or rigid trials)

  • No one should make changes to the device without permission

  • No one should mute the device, set to low volume, take away the device, or hide/delete buttons - Children are allowed to stim on their devices, just like speaking children can hum or talk or sing... it's their voice, they are allowed to explore
     

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
     



Proper Perspective 

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. 



Family Sharing


Family Sharing allows you to install most AAC applications on other Apple devices in your family 
 

Setting up Family Sharing:

Downloading apps in Family Sharing: 

 

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