A language system is how letters, words, phrases and sentences are organized in the device's communication software. Some language systems rely heavily on the alphabet for communication; these systems typically are used by individuals who can spell their thoughts.
Other systems represent words and phrases with symbols or icons because many children are able to communicate before they are able to read and spell. Also, as vocabulary increases, combining symbols for words allows more vocabulary with fewer keystrokes.
Selecting the right language system is important. You want to choose a well-organized program based primarily on single words, with access to some whole phrases and sentences. Additionally, the program should contain core vocabulary, i.e., the words we use and reuse 80 percent of the time in our daily conversation.
Ideally, the vocabulary program should be:
Learning and using language effectively is the ultimate goal of AAC.
Providing children with single words and teaching them how to put those words together will lead to freedom of expression. Learning to say and combine single words and use word endings will enable your child to go beyond pre-programmed words and simple requests to being able to express personal thoughts, feelings, humor and emotions.
Many SLPs recommend selecting a language system that will allow the transition from learning first words to complex communication without changing communication systems or symbols over the course of language development.
When selecting a device and a language system, evaluate now only how a system can meet your child’s immediate language and communication needs, but also how it can grow with your child.
At PRC, we recognize that one system does not fit everyone. That’s why we provide a variety of language systems designed to meet a variety of needs, and begin from a variety of starting places. Contact your regional consultant to learn more about our specific language systems and how to decide which is best for your loved one.