How to model AAC to your child?

How to model AAC to your child?

When you are modelling language using the Augmentative & Alternative Communication (AAC) device to your child, you may be faced with many obstacles. As a parent of a new AAC user, you may get worried, confused or doubtful whether you are doing it the right way or not. Modelling can be used in various activities in your child’s daily life. Following you will learn how to model AAC to your child.

How many words do I model the AAC to my child at a time?

You can model the AAC one/two words more than the level of your child’s current communication level. So let’s say your child is currently new to using an AAC and doesn’t use any AAC communication. Here, you can start using single words. If your child can model single words, then you can move on to two/ three words together. For example, if your child says “Milk”. You can model “Want milk” or “I want milk” on the device. This is known as ‘Aided Language Stimulation. When you use these strategies daily with the target words, it helps to develop language and communication in the AAC users.

What words do I start modelling using the AAC?

There are two main categories of words that you can model using your AAC. Core words are those words that comprise the majority of our vocabulary. These include our verbs, prepositions, adjectives etc. So they compromise almost 75-80% of the vocabulary that we use. Some examples include: sop, go, here, more, on, you etc. Core words are used in various settings and contexts. That is why we focus on using core words while modelling AAC. The other types of words are Fringe words. These are mostly nouns and are not used in different settings. Some examples include milk, chocolate, table, phone etc.

When your child is just starting AAC, you can pick up a few core & fringe words. You can start with your child’s favourite items like “chocolate”, “cake” which are fringe words. You can also use some core words like “want”, “go” etc. When we use AAC devices, we use both these types of words. Hence make sure to use a combination of these words.

What activities do I use to model AAC to my child?

Use everyday opportunities to model AAC. You don’t need to create special games or activities all the time. Use everyday activities like having breakfast, playing with a ball etc. Use these opportunities to model the AAC. Choose the words that you will be modelling. These are known as ‘target/key words’. So for example, when you play with the ball, you can model the word “ball” while playing with the ball. You can talk about the colour, size of the ball while modelling the word “ball” every time you say it.

Won’t these activities become boring for my child?

No, not really. Try to diversify the activities that you do with your child. Take interest and let them lead you to the things or activities that interest them. Instead of you creating the opportunity for communication, you might notice that your child will also start creating communicative opportunities. Use the words that your child is learning in different contexts. For example, today you went to the park to play catch with the ball and the word “ball” was modelled. The next day you can play a different game like cricket and again model the word “ball”. In this way, the game becomes fun & interesting and children learn better. This activity also helps the child to generalise a newly learnt word to different contexts. So the child is one step closer to using their words for communication independently.

What do I do if my child doesn’t press the correct word even after modelling?

This question gets asked quite frequently. Modelling requires a lot of attempts (50-100 or even more) so that the child gets it. When your child makes an error, YOU model the correct response till the child gets it correct. If grammatical errors are being made, do not worry about that. When children learn new grammar or sentence structures, they tend to make mistakes because they are still learning. Focus on the content of the output rather than the grammar, because here we focus on communication irrespective of grammar. Once the child advances or gets older, grammatically correct sentences can be taught.

When modelling a word or sentence, it is very important to be patient & wait for your child to respond. Give them ample time (up to 10 seconds) for a response. And remember, always keep it fun because modelling AAC is fun!!

Vaz Larisa
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