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AAC for Very young Children. Lauren Everley and Emily Markov. Introduction. Definitions Special Characteristics Varying Etiologies. Introduction. Definition- Very young refers to children 0-5 years of age Special Characteristics of Population- Literacy

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aac for very young children

AAC for Very young Children

Lauren Everley and Emily Markov



Special Characteristics

Varying Etiologies

  • Definition-
    • Very young refers to children 0-5 years of age
  • Special Characteristics of Population-
    • Literacy
      • Little reading and/ or writing ability
    • Speech
      • Pre-lingual
    • Vocabulary
      • Often limited
  • Varying Etiologies
    • Autism
    • TBI
    • Genetic Conditions (ieDown Syndrome)
    • Cerebral Palsy
    • Sensory Deficits (ie Visual, Hearing)
characteristics affecting device usage
Characteristics Affecting Device Usage

Communicative Abilities

Motor Abilities

Cognitive Abilities

Sensory Functioning

Behavioral Issues

characteristics affecting device usage1
Characteristics Affecting Device Usage
  • Communicative Abilities
    • How does the child currently communicate?
    • Does the child engage in intentional communication?
    • How well does the child understand the communication of others? (receptive communication)

Characteristics Affecting Device Usage

  • Motor Abilities
    • What are the child’s current speech and oral motor abilities?
    • What movements does the child have sufficient control over that can be used for AAC activation and control?
    • How does the child move from place to place?
characteristics affecting device usage2
Characteristics Affecting Device Usage
  • Cognitive abilities
    • What cognitive abilities does the child have?
      • Does the child engage in intentional communicative behavior?
      • Does the child appear to understand the concepts of causality, means-end and symbols?
      • Does the child do better utilizing recognition versus recall memory?
characteristics affecting device usage3
Characteristics Affecting Device Usage
  • Sensory Functioning
    • Does the child have and vision difficulties?
    • Does the child have any hearing difficulties?
    • Is the child overly sensitive to stimuli?
characteristics affecting device usage4
Characteristics Affecting Device Usage
  • Behavioral Issues
    • Does the child engage in inappropriate or challenging behaviors?
      • Unwanted movements
      • Attention span
speech generating devices
Speech Generating Devices


Voice Output System

No tech, low tech, mid tech, high tech

  • Voice output system-
    • Electronic systems used to replace speech for individuals with speech impairments
    • Allows individuals to actively participate in communication interaction
    • Produce electronic voice output through speech synthesis or natural speech
    • Often takes time to prepare responses

No Tech

High Tech

Mid Tech

Low Tech

  • does not require a power source
  • requires a power source
  • requires extensive training to program and maintain the device.
  • requires a power source
  • requires training to program and maintain
  • requires a source of power
  • very easy to program
types of communication devices
Types of Communication Devices

Picture based systems

Three dimensional objects

Wearable communication systems

Gestures/ Sign

picture based system
Picture Based System
  • The use of pictures to facilitate communication
  • Child chooses a picture to make a request
  • System can range from no-tech to high-tech
picture based system pecs
Picture Based System- PECS
  • Picture Exchange Communication (PECS)
    • The individual gives a picture of desired item to communicative partner who then honors the request
    • 6 phases ( discrimination, sentences, answering questions, etc.)
picture based system pecs1
Picture Based System- PECS



  • Affordable
  • Effective for multiple etiologies
  • Allows for social communication
  • Can be used even after “young child” years
  • Requires a lot of attention to learn
  • Communication limited to pictures available
picture based system m 3
Picture Based System- M3
  • Dynavox M3
    • first speech-generating device to feature touchscreen technology
    • Prerecorded messages
    • Ideal for young children because no literacy skills are needed
picture based system m 31
Picture Based System- M3



  • Messages sorted by situational context
  • Provides verbal feedback via digitized feedback
  • Visual AND auditory feedback
  • Multiple access methods
  • Mid-tech, so requires some training to use and program
  • Must be charged to work
  • Costly
  • No room for error correction
picture based system1
Picture Based System
  • A wide array of clients would benefit from the use of Picture Based Systems
  • Low tech systems- ideal for any level of cognitive function, easier to use with high motor ability.
  • High tech systems- can be more suited for children with low motor abilities because of the multitude of access methods
  • Both require a higher attention span
three dimensional object
Three Dimensional Object
  • A tangible, often large, object children can use to communicate
  • Has dimensions unlike a flat screen or flat pictures
  • Often a switch
three dimensional object1
Three Dimensional Object
  • BIG Mack
    • A single message can be recorded (up to two minutes in length)
    • Once the client presses the button, the message will play back
three dimensional object big mack
Three Dimensional Object- BIG mack



  • Ideal for communication for individuals that need a larger target area
  • Low tech, so easy to program and use
  • Can hook up to other devices
  • Only has one recorded phrase at a time
  • Costly
  • Not very durable
three dimensional object2
Three Dimensional Object
  • A smaller clientele would benefit from using a BIGmack than Picture Based Devices
  • Provides a larger target for those with low motor ability or visual impairments
  • Allows those with low motor ability to play with toys or make requests
  • For those with low cognitive function, can be taught to use the BIGmack to make requests
wearable communication system
Wearable Communication System
  • Portability
  • Has a mechanism to attach it to the child to take with them anywhere they go
  • Offers consistent voice output for users
wearable communication system1
Wearable Communication System
  • Lingo
    • A low-tech communication tool that helps students remember important details, follow step-by-step instructions and focus their attention in the classroom and the home
wearable communication system2
Wearable Communication System



  • Allows kids to communicate quickly in the classroom and at home
  • On the go
  • Durable
  • Low tech – easy to manage and maintain
  • Limited responses
  • Pricey
wearable communication system3
Wearable Communication System
  • Clients that would benefit
    • Children in the classroom
    • People on the go who need to communicate quickly
    • Ideal for those with behavioral issues because it does not require a large attention span.
gestures sign
Gestures/ Sign
  • Gestures are communications like facial expressions, hand signals, eye gazing, and body postures.
    • Examples: smiles, handshakes, waving, and raising certain fingers to say something.
gestures sign1
Gestures/ Sign
  • American Sign Language (ASL)
    • A language that uses a system of manual, facial, and other body movements as the means of communication
gestures sign2
Gestures/ Sign



  • Easy to learn
  • Promotes language skills
  • Many gestures are easily understood
  • Inexpensive
  • Quick and effective*
  • Not everyone understands ASL
  • Clients must be mobile
  • Limited vocabulary
gestures sign3
Gestures/ Sign
  • Clients that would benefit
    • Deaf and hard of hearing
    • Anyone who does not have speech capabilities
    • Anyone can use gestures and signs to enhance oral communication