Modeling AAC: A Powerful Tool for Language Development
The average 18-month-old has been exposed to 4,380 hours of oral language at a rate of 8 hours a day from birth. A child who uses an AAC system and receives speech language therapy twice a week for 20 to 30 minutes will reach the same amount of language exposure in their AAC language in 84 years. Modeling is a way to provide language input in the AAC system and demonstrate how to use it effectively. It is important to make language visible, be patient, and follow the child’s lead. Modeling is not a way to boss the child around or interrogate them, and it is not a visual schedule or demand for immediate repetition. It is necessary for learning an AAC system and should be done consistently and in a supportive environment.
In this talk, we will explore the importance of modeling Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) for individuals with communication difficulties. We will discuss what modeling is, what it is not, and how it can be used to support language development. We will also provide tips and resources for effective modeling.
The Power of Modeling
Language Exposure in Typical Development
Did you know that the average 18-month-old has been exposed to 4,380 hours of oral language at a rate of 8 hours a day from birth? This constant exposure to language helps children develop their communication skills, from saying their first word to learning grammar and social pragmatics.
AAC Users Need Modeling Too
For individuals who use AAC systems, the expectation is often that they will simply figure out how to use the system on their own. However, this approach overlooks the importance of modeling. Modeling is the process of providing language input in the AAC system that the user will be using, demonstrating how to use the system from their perspective.
What Modeling Is
Making Language Visible and Understandable
Modeling involves demonstrating how to use the AAC system, making language visible and more understandable. This is especially beneficial for individuals who have difficulty processing auditory information or have cognitive and learning delays. By using pictures and visual cues, modeling gives them more time to process and understand the language.
Slowing Down and Making Communication Easier
Modeling also helps slow down the pace of communication, making it easier for individuals to understand. By pointing to pictures while speaking, we naturally slow down our speech, making it more accessible and easier to comprehend. Additionally, modeling shows that the AAC system is a valid and valued means of communication, helping individuals feel more confident in using it.
Teaching and Learning AAC Systems
Modeling is essential for learning an AAC system. Simply placing the system in front of someone and expecting them to figure it out on their own is not effective. Modeling provides the necessary guidance and support for individuals to learn how to use the system and communicate effectively.
What Modeling Is Not
Bossing or Demanding
Modeling is not about bossing or demanding from the AAC user. It is not a way to reinforce messages or control their communication. It is important to avoid using modeling as a means to make them perform or feel pressured. Instead, modeling should be a supportive and empowering process.
Interrogating or Testing
Modeling is not about interrogating or testing the AAC user. Asking too many questions or expecting immediate responses can turn the experience of using AAC into an uncomfortable and pressured situation. It is important to create a safe and supportive environment where individuals feel comfortable expressing themselves.
Visual Schedules or Demand Boards
While many people use modeling as a visual schedule, it is important to keep the purpose of the AAC system as a means of communication separate from visual schedules. Visual schedules are valuable for organizing daily activities, but they should not replace the communication system or limit its use as someone’s voice.
Immediate Repetition or Testing
Modeling is not a demand for immediate repetition or testing. It is not about expecting individuals to repeat after you or respond immediately. Modeling is about providing language input and hoping that they are watching and learning from it, without pressuring them to respond in a specific way.
The Benefits of Modeling AAC
Supporting Language Development
Modeling AAC helps individuals develop their language skills by providing them with a rich language input. By modeling one to two words longer than what they are using expressively, we encourage them to stretch their language abilities and learn new words and sentence structures.
Making Language More Accessible
Modeling AAC makes language more accessible for individuals with communication difficulties. By using visual cues and pictures, we make language visible and easier to understand. This is particularly beneficial for individuals who have difficulty processing auditory information or have cognitive and learning delays.
Building Confidence and Valuing AAC
By modeling AAC ourselves, we show individuals that their AAC system is a valid and valued means of communication. This helps build their confidence and encourages them to use the system more frequently. It also challenges the misconception that AAC is not a legitimate form of communication.
Enhancing Communication and Understanding
Modeling AAC helps individuals communicate more effectively and be better understood. By using visual cues and pointing to pictures while speaking, we slow down our speech and make it easier for others to comprehend. This is especially helpful for individuals who have difficulty processing auditory information or have cognitive and learning delays.
Tips for Effective Modeling
Start with Enough Words
When modeling AAC, it is important to have enough words available in the system. Modeling with just a few words can be limiting and boring. Make sure the system is configured to provide a rich supply of words that individuals can use to express themselves.
Model One to Two Words Longer
A general rule of thumb for modeling is to use one to two words longer in each sentence than what the individual is using expressively. This helps stretch their language abilities and encourages them to learn new words and sentence structures.
Follow Their Lead
When modeling AAC, it is important to follow the individual’s lead. If they suggest a different topic or want to talk about something specific, go with it. This shows them the power of communication and keeps their attention and engagement.
Accept and Expand
When individuals use AAC, they may speak telegraphically or use shorter sentences. Instead of correcting them or asking them to say things the “right” way, accept what they say and expand on it. This can be done by adding more words or providing additional information related to their topic.
Be Silly and Have Fun
Modeling AAC should be fun and engaging. Be silly, make jokes, and have fun with the system. This helps create a positive and enjoyable experience for individuals and encourages them to use the system more frequently.
Network and Form Modeling Communities
Connect with other individuals who are also modeling AAC. Form a support group or join existing Facebook groups where you can share experiences, ask questions, and support each other. Having a network of like-minded individuals can provide valuable insights and emotional support.
Modeling AAC is a powerful tool for supporting language development in individuals with communication difficulties. By providing language input in the AAC system and demonstrating how to use it, we can help individuals develop their language skills and communicate more effectively. Remember to be patient, kind to yourself, and have fun with modeling.
- Title: Be a Super Core Word Modeler with Proloquo2Go
- Author(s): Jennifer Marden
- Author(s)’ affiliation: None
- Publication date: 2017-08-14
- Collection: 2017 ASF Family Conference