Anyone with a communication disorder where it's difficult for them to communicate may benefit from AAC. Individuals with ALS, cerebral palsy, autism, RETT syndrome… these and other diagnoses that involve receptive or expressive language deficits are good candidates for AAC.
Cerebral palsy (CP) is the most common movement disorder in children, occurring in about 2.1 per 1,000 live births and first appearing in early childhood. While signs and symptoms vary, the most common include:
There also may be problems with:
Often babies with cerebral palsy do not roll over, sit, crawl, or walk as early as other children their age.
Children and adults with CP can experience a range of significant speech, language and communication difficulties. However, augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) devices can help them overcome these hurdles. With assistance from their SLP and device training and support from their PRC Consultant, someone with CP can become quite adept at expressing themselves, communicating their thoughts and needs.
AAC can open up a world of possibilities for anyonewith CP, regardless of capabilities. By simply offering the opportunity to communicate, people with CP can overcome barriers to communication: to understand, and be understood, paving the way for a better quality of life.
In the United States, 1 in 68 children will be diagnosed with autism, and studies indicate that up to 40 percent of these children will be unable to communicate verbally. Using birthrate statistics as reported by the CDC, that means that up to 28,000 children born each year will be diagnosed with autism.
Children with autism have been found to have strong visual processing skills, which make them excellent candidates for AAC. Children learn to use symbols more easily than we do because they don't question the associations, analogies and metaphors represented by the pictures.
Even more, the child can learn words based on the response they get when using a consistent motor movement. They don't have to learn why they are using certain pictures but can use them as a visual cue.
Contrary to myth, AAC devices do NOT hinder children with autism from developing speech. In fact, studies have shown that the use of speech-generating devices has a beneficial effect, encouraging children’s natural speech development.
Not being able to communicate one's wants and needs is often the cause of behavioral issues. Children can become agitated and frustrated when not understood or they could be using disruptive behavior as a communication strategy.
As communication skills improve:
Rett syndrome is a neurodevelopmental disorder that affects girls almost exclusively. It is characterized by normal early growth and development followed by a slowing of development, loss of purposeful use of the hands, distinctive hand movements, slowed brain and head growth, problems with walking, seizures and intellectual disability.
AAC is highly effective for those with Rett Syndrome. AAC gives the person the opportunity to express themselves, to develop thoughts and become their own person.
While nearly all those with Rett Syndrome are non-verbal, AAC can help:
ALS, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. When a muscle has no nourishment, it "atrophies" or wastes away. As this area degenerates it leads to scarring or hardening ("sclerosis") in the region.
Every year, ALS affect over 6,000 people. It more often strikes adults between the ages of 40 and 70, with an average age of 55, but has been known to affect those who are younger. The average life expectancy is about two to five years from the time of diagnosis.
As the disease progresses, it robs adults of their ability to walk, dress, write, speak, swallow and breathe.
The psychological impact of the loss of communication is immense. AAC, however, allows individuals to continue to enjoy participating in life, be as independent as possible and – most importantly – make decisions for themselves.
Regardless of ability, there are a variety of access methods available for those with ALS, including eye gaze, head pointing and switches.
Open up new worlds with AAC.
AAC is beneficial for others including:
For information on whether AAC can help you, your child or an adult, contact your PRC Consultant.