For unknown reasons, boys are diagnosed more often than girls with communication disorders.
It is estimated that 1 out of every 10 Americans have or have had a communication disorder.
What is AAC? It stands for Augmentative/Alternative Communication which refers to any communication other than speech. AACs are also known as Speech Generating Devices (SGD's). Augmentative systems are used by people who have some ability to speak and Alternative systems are used by people who have no speech.
Many times people with communication disorders rely on electronic devices to help them communicate. These devices fall into two categories: dedicated and undedicated. A dedicated device is used only for communication because the only thing it can do is speak. An undedicated device is computer-based and has other features on it.
Click on the following link to explore different types of AAC devices
The following article focuses on how technology for communication can benefit students with autism.
IDEA requires that if assistive technology is needed to meet the goals listed in a student's IEP then it must be provided. School districts can seek funding from outside sources or may rent or borrow the device. If a student's family wants to own the device they can also submit the request to their personal insurance company. Since AAC devices can be expensive, it is important that the student spends a trial period with the device and also receives the proper training for the device. It is also important to address any concerns with parents because some worry that using communication devices will hinder their child's communication progress. While this is a valid concern, according to Cumley, students who use AACs either improve their communication skills or they stay the same.
Although IDEA mandates that all IEP teams consider assistive technology in their meetings, there are no real guidelines to do so. This means that some teams may spend very little time discussing assistive technology. It can also be a rarity to have an AT specialist in the building so the team may not know all that is "out there." There are resources that can help IEP teams narrow down devices based on the specific needs/wants of the student. There following two PDF files show examples of these resources, one is low-tech and one is high-tech. (It can be a little overwhelming at first, but they show the different features of each device.)
If you are not familiar with technology, these grids may still be confusing. Gary D. Cumley, Ph.D., CCC-SLP offers a detailed decision making guide and process for selecting a communication device. Read pages 6-26 of his chapter on Assistive Technology for Communication to gain an understanding of this process. I really think this is beneficial since there are no real guidelines for discussing and choosing an AT device.
You can find Chapter 3 attached below. The entire chapter is attached but pages 6-26 are the only ones required. (It's the actual page 6 of the text, not page 6 of the PDF)