Aphasia Awareness Month: Alternative and Augmentative Communication

Brain InjuryJune is National Aphasia Awareness Month! In support of this campaign, Speech Associates of NY has dedicated one blog each week in the month of June to issues in aphasia. Today, we wrap up our series by talking about options for alternative and augmentative communication.

Aphasia is a disorder in which a person has difficulty with language following neurological injury, such as a stroke or traumatic brain injury. People with aphasia fall along a huge continuum of ability, ranging from subtle language deficits and word-finding difficulties, to those who are almost entirely unable to communicate with spoken language. For those with the most severe difficulties, there are options that can be used to make communication more effective.

Alternative and augmentative communication (AAC) refers to any method or device which helps a person to communicate. AAC is often divided into two categories: unaided communication systems, in which the person uses their own body to communicate, for example, through gestures or sign language, and aided communication systems which use tools or equipment to aid in communication. There are a huge range of aided communication systems available to those with communication disorders. These range from the most basic systems, like pencil and paper or picture and alphabet boards, to extremely sophisticated computers which use pictures or letters to compose electronic speech.

Speech-language pathologists play a significant role in helping patients find an AAC system that is right for them. After determining that a patient may benefit from AAC, the speech therapist will conduct an in-depth evaluation to assess which type of system will best suit their needs. Speech pathologists are trained to assess a patient’s current linguistic level, specific strengths and weaknesses, daily needs and personal preferences in order to help them find the best match.

Do you or does someone you know use an alternative and augmentative communication system? What have been the biggest challenges and benefits? Share your story in the comments section below!

For information on our New York based Speech-Language Pathology services, please call Speech Associates of New York today at (212) 308-7725 or visit our website at http://www.speechassociatesofny.com and find out how our team of professionally trained and certified speech-language pathologists can help!

© 2014, Speech Associates of New York – All Rights Reserved

Source: http://www.asha.org/public/speech/disorders/AAC/

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