Let’s Talk AAC Blog: Making AAC Work

Jane Odom M. Ed, Director of Implementation Resources at PRC, offers tips and suggestions for implementing AAC.

Can-do, will-do: AAC resources for parents, family and friends

Posted October 23, 2018 in Making AAC Work

In previous Blogs I’ve looked at the AAC Language Lab and the various resources it has for Clinicians, Classrooms and for use with Apps. There is one area yet unexplored however and it may be one of the most important there is!

AAC implementation resources often focus on ideas for therapy sessions or interventions and ideas for the classroom. This is great – it means we can nurture an immersive AAC rich culture within health and education services.

But you’re about to read a shocking collection of figures…..

Let’s say the average school day lasts from 9.00am – 3.30 pm, 5 days a week for approximately 40 weeks a year. That equates to about 1300 hours a year in school. Wow! That’s LOADS (although I’m sure some of my school based friends would say it feels A LOT more than that).

But let’s consider this in a wider context…..

Let’s assume the average child sleeps for approximately 11 hours in any 24 hr period (NB this is a broad assumption to give a general picture – no heckling please). That gives them 13 hours a day where they are awake, learning language and all of life’s lovely lessons.

That means over the course of a year a child spends roughly 4745 hours awake.

So if they spend 1300 hours in school where do they spend the other 3445 hours?

I’ll give you a clue…..

extended circle

With children and young people spending the majority of their lives in places other than school wouldn’t it be awesome if there were a resource for parents, extended family and the wider community to help target AAC skills??

Thankfully a beacon of light in the form of AAC Language Lab’s ‘Can-do’ cards is here! In the words of AAC Language Lab, these are:

“..fun, motivational activities the entire family can do to help your child improve their communication skills. Most activities will fit nicely into your daily family routines. There is a section on each card for Communication Partners. Print the Can-Do Activity Card and Communication Partner card and share them with anyone who interacts with your child.”

How great is this?!? So not only are there activities ideas for you to use at home but each card comes with an attached card to pass to others who may interact with your child (think back to the picture above). Here’s a little free sample of the brilliant ‘No No Don’t Eat That’ Activity (an important life lesson for us all!). Each card will also come with downloadable resources such as books and games for you to use.

No No Don't Eat That!

No, No, Don't Eat That!

No No Don't Eat That Book

Downloadable content to support the activity!

The cards are grouped by category (my daughter would LOVE the nature category!) and then sub-divided by language stage to help you establish which activities are most suited to your child’s current abilities.

Language Stages

When thinking about the ‘Can-do’ Cards , the AAC Language Lab has divided language development into 3 ‘stages’, which are a compilation of information on language development gathered from a vast number of resources and organised into teachable segments.

AAC Language Lab summarises each stage as follows:

Beginner Stage - Initially using single words for simple language functions building up to short phrases of 2 or 3 words. A vocabulary of up to 200 words.

Intermediate Stage - Initially using phrases of 2 or 3 words building up to longer sentences which have more meaningful word order, increased language functions and increased use of word endings (-in, -ed etc). A vocabulary of 200 to 2000 words.

Advanced Stage - Initially using shorter sentences with appropriate word endings building up to complex sentences with correct word order and grammar. Language development continues as vocabulary expands. A vocabulary of between 2000 and 5000 words (or more!).

Each stage is detailed fully on the website with example videos of communicators and links to target vocabulary lists and lessons.

It is quite normal for someone to overlap between stages and as such you shouldn’t feel you need to only focus on one stage if activities feel like they may target appropriate skills!

So, once you’ve established which language stage your AAC user ‘best fits’ into, go explore the activities which are felt to be appropriate for their language level and have some fun.

Who can do it? YOU CAN DO IT!


NB. AAC Language Lab UK contains both free and paid-for content which can be accessed by subscription.

This Blog was originally posted on The Emazing AAC Emily! By Emily Gabrielle, AAC Education & Resources Consultant for Liberator Ltd.