Cali Kids Speech Therapy


The Basics of Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC)

The Basics of Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) Blog Cali Kids Speech Therapy August 14, 2023 What is AAC? Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) refers to additional methods of communication besides verbal speech. These methods can be augmentative, to supplement speech, or alternative, to be used in place of speech. AAC comes in no-tech, low-tech, mid-tech and high-tech forms. No-tech AAC involves using the body to communicate. This can be seen through gestures such as nodding, pointing and waving, as well as other body movements such as blinking, eye movements or moving a limb in a certain way to communicate. An example of no-tech AAC use is if a child consistently looks up to communicate “yes.” Low-tech AAC refers to the use of non-electronic materials to communicate, such as using a pen to write or pointing to pictures/letters on picture boards, alphabet boards or in communication books. If a child hands a partner a picture of a cookie to indicate that they are hungry, they are using low-tech AAC to communicate their needs. Mid-tech AAC entails using electronic devices with simple functions to communicate a limited set of messages. For example, voice-output switches such as a BIGmack (for single messages) or GoTalk (for multiple messages) can be used to produce pre-programmed messages. High-tech AAC involves the use of computers, tablets or iPads with specific communication software/applications. These devices, often known as speech-generating devices, can provide its users access to robust language systems, which gives them the opportunity to communicate an unlimited number of messages through electronic voice output. Speech-generating devices can be accessed in a variety of ways based on a person’s physical abilities such as by touching the screen with a body part (e.g. finger, hand), monitoring eye movements using eye-tracking technology, or by pushing switches (external buttons) that are connected to the device. Who needs AAC? AAC can be beneficial to anyone who has difficulty communicating using speech alone. This may be due to a variety of diagnoses such as Autism Spectrum Disorder, Down Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy, Childhood Apraxia of Speech, genetic conditions, brain injury and more. When a child is provided access to AAC, they have the opportunity to communicate their thoughts and ideas to people who may not otherwise be able to understand them, which tends to decrease their overall frustration and increases their ability to connect with others. How can I get an AAC system? There are many AAC systems available on the market. We recommend working with a speech-language pathologist to identify the best AAC system for your child’s specific skills and needs. It is important to note that not all speech therapists have experience conducting AAC evaluations. Fortunately, we at Cali Kids Speech Therapy have specialized experience providing comprehensive AAC evaluations and evidence-based AAC therapy to support your child’s communication skills. Schedule a complimentary consultation to begin your child’s AAC journey today. Latest Blog How do I get an Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) device/system? The Basics of Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) Post Title 3 Category Blog Edit Template

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How do I get an Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) device?

How do I get an Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) device? AAC, Blog Posted by:Cali Kids Speech Therapy September 5, 2023 If you are a parent of a child with significant speech difficulties, finding solutions to help them communicate effectively may feel both exciting and overwhelming. However, determining the right communication system for your child is not a journey you need to do all on your own. Speech-language pathologists can help parents find and implement Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) systems to support communication skills. AAC refers to a variety of forms of communication besides talking, such as gestures, facial expressions, writing, drawing, and technology like iPads, tablets, and computers that can produce speech (known as speech-generating devices). These methods can be used in addition to speech (that is, to augment), or in place of speech (as an alternative). If you have been told that your child might benefit from AAC, specifically a speech-generating device, and are wondering what the steps are to select and obtain a device, you’re in the right place. Choose Speech-Generating Devices to Explore and Trial AAC comes in a variety of forms, from printed pictures to electronic devices that produce speech. Choosing the right speech-generating device depends on several factors such as your child’s motor, cognitive, and communication skills. Work with a speech-language pathologist to explore a variety of devices to determine which one is the most suitable for your child, both now and as they grow. During this phase, your therapist will consider how your child will activate the device, such as by touching it with their fingers, looking at it via eye-tracking technology, or by touching a switch (external button) that activates the device. In addition, the therapist will determine accessories needed to support your child’s access method, such as keyguards and mounting systems. Your therapist can help you apply for a trial device from the manufacturer, which typically lasts for 1-4 weeks based on availability. Once you obtain a trial device, your child will be taught how to use the device. This is a crucial time for the family to also experiment with the device as you will be your child’s biggest modeler of language. The trial period helps to ensure the chosen device will fit with your child’s preferences, needs, and lifestyle. This is typically a good time to start talking to your insurance provider to see if and how much of a speech-generating device is covered, as well as coverage for accessories and equipment. Complete an AAC Evaluation The next step is to complete a comprehensive AAC evaluation by a speech-language pathologist to formally determine the most suitable type of speech-generating device for your child. An evaluation is usually required if a family is applying for funding through their insurance provider, as the report contains rationale for why the child requires this equipment. The full AAC assessment typically consists of a speech and language evaluation as well as detailed information about the child’s background, hearing, vision, mobility, and communication, physical and cognitive abilities. In addition, it contains information about daily communication needs, other devices/systems that were considered and a treatment plan. Apply for the Speech-Generating Device The next step involves completing required paperwork, submitting the application and AAC evaluation, and waiting for a decision regarding funding from insurance. Once approved, your own device will be on its way to you! Personalize and Use Your Device Frequently Now that you have your own speech-generating device, your therapist will work with you to customize it based on your child’s specific needs and interests, such as adding certain vocabulary words that are important to your child (e.g. TV characters). Your therapist will train both you and your child on how to navigate through the device, create messages, and use it across different activities. It is important that you familiarize yourself with all aspects of the device and use it throughout the day to model language. Regular check-ins with your therapist are important for monitoring progress, making modifications, and troubleshooting challenges. The road to obtaining a speech-generating device is one that requires collaboration and learning, and leads to great rewards once your child has access to a robust communication system. With guidance from a qualified speech-language pathologist, a whole new world of communication can be opened for your child and your family. Latest Blog How do I get an Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) device? The Basics of Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) The Benefits of In-Home Speech Therapy for Children Category Blog Edit Template

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The Benefits of In-Home Speech Therapy for Children

The Benefits of In-Home Speech Therapy for Children Blog, Speech Therapy Cali Kids Speech Therapy August 14, 2023 Picture this: As you observe your young child, you notice something is different about their speech development compared to their peers. Perhaps they’re using fewer words, struggling to arrange words correctly in their sentences, or finding it challenging to communicate their thoughts clearly. You try to find help by researching speech therapy clinics in your area. After giving them a call, you find there’s a lengthy 6-month waitlist just to undergo an evaluation, and if therapy is recommended, you’ll have to wait several more months to secure a spot with a clinician. Does this situation sound familiar? Long waitlists, coupled with the stress and inconvenience of driving children to and from appointments while navigating an already busy schedule, are a common scenario today. However, many of these challenges can be avoided with  in-home speech therapy, in which a therapist comes to your home to conduct services in your child’s familiar environment. For families looking for flexible and high-quality care, this option is an ideal solution with clear benefits. Convenience One of the most obvious benefits of in-home speech therapy is convenience, as the speech therapist will come to your home at the appointment time. No more packing the kids in the car and navigating traffic to and from a clinic. Because of this, in-home sessions are often much less stressful for children and parents alike. Flexibility Is your child having a rough day and is seeking some movement in your backyard? By conducting speech therapy at your home, the session can be held in various locations, such as the yard or playroom, based on your child’s current interests and needs.  Doing so facilitates increased cooperation and learning. Real-Life Application Possibly the greatest benefit of all is the ability to practice new skills in natural situations. Clinicians can incorporate therapeutic activities into your child’s daily routines so that they can apply skills they are learning to practical, real-life scenarios. In addition, in-home therapy typically incorporates toys and materials already present in the home so that skills can continue to be practiced even when the therapist leaves. Comfort Zone In-home speech therapy allows your child to receive therapy in the space where they typically feel the most comfortable and secure — their home. By working in a familiar environment, children are often more relaxed and open to learning. Sessions can incorporate toys and activities that your child is already familiar with and enjoys, which can increase their engagement in therapy, impacting their overall progress. Family Involvement Parents spend far more time with their children than a therapist does. For this reason, it is important that parents learn strategies to support their child’s speech and language development throughout the day. In-home speech therapy fosters family involvement and collaboration in therapy as parents have the opportunity to closely observe and participate in sessions. In-home speech therapy offers a variety of benefits that not only provide convenience for a family’s daily schedule, but impacts the quality of learning. This model allows for personalized attention in the comfort of your home doing activities that your child encounters daily. When considering speech therapy for your child, the advantages of in-home therapy could align with both your child’s needs and the overall dynamics of your family. Latest Blog The Basics of Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) How do I get an Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) device? The Benefits of In-Home Speech Therapy for Children Category AAC Speech Therapy Edit Template

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