Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC)

What is AAC?

When your child is not speaking verbally or is very difficult to understand, you may begin to hear your child’s teacher or therapist talk about introducing forms of “AAC” to them, but what does this actually mean? AAC stands for “Augmentative and Alternative Communication”, and your child will be taught to use a new form of expressive communication, whether that be signing, pictures, or a speech generating device (SGD). These forms of expressive communication are often introduced when a child is not speaking, and allows us to decrease frustration for your child, and your family, by allowing them to communicate their wants and needs. Below you will find descriptions of the most popular types of AAC that might be introduced to your child.

  • Signs and Gestures: This form of communication is done by teaching the child contexts in which they can use American Sign Language to communicate simple wants and needs. This is often described as “baby sign”, and includes general things such as more, done, want, like, yes, and no. This method is often the first step because it is free and easily taught to caregivers.
  • PECS Cards: PECS, or the Picture Exchange Communication System, is a form of communication that uses pictures of common actions and objects that a child shares with a caregiver to communicate their wants and needs. This involves the child having access to a small page or book of picture cards that they can hand to others when they want something they cannot get themselves. This is a low-cost system that can provide the child with access to a wide variety of verbs and vocabulary words, and can be taken with the child wherever they go.
  • Speech Generating Devices: Speech Generating Devices, or SGDs, are small tablets the child can use to produce words or phrases when they need to comment and request. With an SGD, the child selects a picture “button” on the touch screen, which then vocalizes their selection for their communication partner to hear. This system can be taken with the child, and can be easily modified to fit the child’s needs.

Though teaching a child how to use a form of AAC can be a long process, it can open up their world by providing them with a concrete way to communicate with those around them. Reach out to us if you have any questions or concerns about your child’s expressive communication, or if you are wondering about trialing different forms of AAC with them at We are here to help you find the best way to communicate with your child and decrease frustration for everyone at home.


Check out this speech generating device in the Instagram post below: