AAC devices, or augmentative and alternative communication devices, are some sort of tablets or laptops that help someone with a speech language impairment communicate successfully. Using AAC devices in school is becoming easier and more accessible with all of the technology we have access to these days.
In order to make using these engaging, functional and rewarding, the use of toys and sensory/therapy materials is a great way to teach children to learn how to use their devices.
Strategies for Learning to Use AAC Devices
The best thing to do is find and utilize whatever materials or objects are preferred by the students. Once you learn what they prefer, or don’t prefer as well, that is when you can incorporate those items. Be open to trying different things, don’t limit yourself to specific items you have purchased.
It is also important to model, model, model. Use the device with your student, in their everyday routine and show them how you would expect it to be used making the learning truly meaningful to them.
Terms Commonly Used on AAC Devices
When you are teaching your student to use the device for simple terms like go, get or give, this is when knowing your students interests and preferences is important.
- Put some preferred items around the room
- Models using their device to request that they go, get or give you the item
- Use positive reinforcement when they complete the skill successfully
If you are teaching your child to communicate terms such as open or close, put some of the preferred items in a box or large container for the student to open and close for them to get after being asked to open, or them asking you to open.
Does your student have a preferred snack or food item? A good way to incorporate that item is as a reward for using their device appropriately.
Other Toys/Items to Use
Teaching your students to communicate their wants and needs is the most important skill they will learn in using their AAC devices. Some things you can keep on hand during learning times are:
- Wind up toys
- Favorite songs
- Kinetic Sand
- Sensory Bins
- A Handheld Massager
- Remote Control Car/Train
- Stuffed Animals
- Sorting Activities
What are some things you use to foster and make learning to use the students devices more engaging? Let us know in the comments below!