Augmentative and alternative communication refers to all behaviors, strategies and methods that augment or help speech and communication skills. We all use augmentative communication behaviors, such as gestures and facial expressions to enhance our communication. Some children, however, have difficulty speaking and need more sophisticated methods of communicating with others.
When speech production is compromised due to cognitive, motor or sensory impairment in such disorders as cerebral palsy, traumatic brain injury or degenerative neuromuscular diseases, there is a greater reliance on augmentative or alternative communication devices. The kinds of devices can range from something as simple as a picture board or simple switches connected to voice output devices to highly complex computerized devices that allow the patient to communicate using sentences (synthesized speech).
In order to determine an appropriate device for the child, various disciplines will need to be involved in the process. Speech-language pathologists, audiologists, occupational therapists, physical therapists, psychologists, educators and physicians can provide information that is useful in determining communication needs and the most appropriate device for the patient.
For more information about an augmentative evaluation, please call (205) 638-9149 and ask to speak to a speech-language pathologist.