The Importance of AAC in non speaking Autism

Hello! For those who do not know AAC means Augmentative Alternative Communication. In the case of Boo, his AAC is his device we named Sam. An AAC can be anything that helps further communication. It can be as high tech as Sam or as low tech as PECS (picture exchange communication system). I have had more than a few parents tell me that their non-speaking child does not need an AAC because they can usually figure out what their child wants. Hmmm, having a non-speaking child gave you the ability to read minds? I don’t think so. Follow me for the rest of the story.

Boo is on vacation this week and having a lovely time. He would like the sun to come out more so had can take his new adaptive bike for a spin. Yesterday we went to Target to get Easter basket supplies for friends and he got a few treats of his own. I picked up some fried chicken from the deli, as that is one of his favorite snacks and we went home. Once home, I got him set up with Sam, his iPad (he loves to watch Sid the Science Kid) and his snacks. I went into my area to do some work on my laptop. A little bit later Mr. Boo came in with Sam. He began patting my arm to get my attention and then dropped Sam in my lap. When I asked him what he wanted he made Sam say. “I want to go Taco Bell. I want to drink a Strawberry Freezie.” This is the first time he has ever sought me out and communicated with me. Most of the time when Boo is speaking on Sam, he talks and just assumes that I am listening. His speech therapist has been saying that he needs to understand that communication is a two-way street. He needs to get the attention of the person he wants to communicate with first, then speak. Yesterday was the first time that he ever did that. Obviously, I stopped what I was doing, said, “You said you wanted to go to Taco Bell for a Strawberry Freezie. Let me get my keys and we will go.” So, off we went. He was very happy and I was ecstatic.

So, being able to guess what your non-speaking child or young adult wants is not enough. Boo had had an outing, lots of positive interactions, and was all set up with his iPad and snacks. Taco Bell had not even entered my mind, but it had entered his. So, he decided to trot over to me and make his needs known, and it worked! Now, I can hear the Karens in the background saying, “You can’t give him everything just because he asked for it.” My answer to that is “Why not?” Boo asks for very little. He does not care about fancy clothes or cars or how he looks. He cares that people listen to him and treat him with respect. This was the first time he had ever come to me with a certain request. It only took 15 minutes out of my day to run him over to Taco Bell and fulfill his request. Easy peasy.

All people want to communicate. Some communicate verbally, some use ACC. All attempts at communication should be considered valid and should be listened to. You may know your child or young adult better than anyone else, but you cannot read their mind. I am not a magician, I am not a mind reader, I am mom. Boo is a budding communicator. It is my job to listen and continue to conversation. Thanks for dropping in to read.

Author: snort262

I am a wife, mom, long distance runner and fierce autism advocate. My background is in education. Currently, I am a nanny, a tutor, and an autism consultant.

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