Using AAC with my Preschooler- An Update on Our Progress!

In April, I made this post about choosing to use an AAC device with my toddler.

7 month later, I wanted to post an update about how my child (now a preschooler) is doing with journey.

Toddler with AACSo here are the original videos I posted:

And here is now:

She clearly has something to say.  She is scanning the screen, thinking, and fixing her mistakes.  She knows how to say single words, but then also speak a sentence she created.  She is motivated to get it right and enjoying the communication.  You can also hear her repeating verbally what the iPad says.

AAC preschooler

So, what we have done in the last 7 months:

  • We modeled, modeled, and modeled using the AAC device even more.  We learned the program inside and out, becoming skilled at modeling typical toddler and preschool language skills throughout the day.  We learned about using core words and how to teach those word (instead of our instinct to teach the fringe vocabulary words).  A great new resources has been AssistWare Core Word Classroom.
  • I read up on typical language development, then adapted the AAC set-up to be customized to my child’s needs and wants.  I’ve worked hard to keep the placement of buttons the same place to promote motor learning.  We’ve added anything motivating to her- our family and friends, our toys, our community places.
  • We focused on finding activities where we could use the AAC device, finding motivating and fun ways that included the whole family.
  • We have promoted language development in all areas, both verbally and through the AAC device.  We work on all the normal developmental skills, but have spent extra time on visual scanning, fine motor control, sequencing steps, and problem-solving to help her communication skills.
  • We have struggled to figure out the logistics such as how to keep the iPad charged, have adequate volume, how to bring it with in the community, and how to lock a curious child out of all the setting options.  Having a young child who is small for her age, we haven’t yet found a way for her to carry the iPad with her at all times.  They make carrying straps, but my daughter isn’t ready for this yet.  We have found setting up several iPads in key locations and having a parent carry the iPad works best so far.
  • We have learned how to quickly and succinctly explain the AAC device to both children and adults.  We have had overwhelmingly positive reactions from people in our community.  A lot of curious questions, but very little inappropriate comments or looks.
  • We have broken 1 iPad and a few charging cables, which given the rough use from my children is better than we expected.  We continue to find used iPad to buy cheaply, which allows us to have the AAC application on multiple devices for modeling and logistical needs.
  • We have worked with our school team to write an IEP that includes language goals in all areas of communication, allowing and promoting communication both verbally and by using AAC device.  Our school provides an iPad as well for my child with the identical program and file to use during her school services.

I share this information to guide other families who may be on this journey.  Please feel free to contact me with any questions, as I am happy to share the wealth of information I have gathered.  Below are some resources you may want to check out online:

Paige Hays is an occupational therapist who provides in-home, pediatric occupational therapy services in the south metro area of the Twin Cities, MN. She is a mother of 2 girls, avid DIYer, and a highly skilled and experienced OT. She specializes in working in pediatrics, with diverse expertise ranging from cognition and sensory issues to working with children with neuromuscular disabilities or complex medical needs. www.paigehays.net