Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) Services at UWAC

What is AAC?

Augmentative and Alternative Communication – more commonly referred to as “AAC”- is a term used to describe the tools and services offered to individuals with significant expressive communication challenges to provide temporary or permanent compensation for these challenges.  Individuals who use AAC often present with limited or no current ability to speak, or may have challenges organizing their speech for functional communication.

Common AAC tools include:

  • Gestures and manual sign language (e.g., ASL)
  • Picture communication cards, boards, and books
  • Speech generating devices with communication software and spoken voice, such as a tablet with a communication app

The UW Autism Center offers AAC services in the areas of assessment, training and short-term treatment for autistic children and young adults.

AAC Assessment

An AAC assessment typically takes place during a 2-hour appointment.  The goal of an AAC assessment is to determine what AAC supports are the most appropriate for an individual’s communication needs.  Families seeking guidance to modify or replace an AAC system already in use by an individual would also benefit from an AAC assessment appointment.

AAC Training Sessions

AAC training sessions typically take place during a 1-hour appointment.  The goal of a training session is to assist individuals and families with setting up an existing AAC system and providing support strategies to teach the use of the system by the AAC user.

Training sessions may include other professionals supporting the individual in other settings – such as a behavior specialist, teacher, or speech therapist – upon the family’s request.

Short-Term AAC Therapy Sessions

The UW Autism Center also offers short-term therapy that focuses on family-centered education and training to assist in the integration of AAC into the daily communication routines of an AAC user. Short-term intervention sessions include demonstration of strategies to support language and communication growth that can be carried over in an individual’s natural home activities and routines.  Short-term intervention sessions may also involve other professionals supporting an individual long-term – such as a behavior specialist, teacher, or speech therapist – upon a family’s request.