Common Questions

AAC Myths

There are many myths surrounding AAC. Here we offer a more in-depth look at some of those myths and why they are not true. 

Will AAC keep an individual from talking?

No. In fact there is a decade of research that states AAC does not keep an individual from using or developing natural speech. Millar, Light & Schlosser (2006) reviewed previously published studies that, among other criteria, presented data on “speech production before, during and after AAC intervention.”

This review revealed that participants demonstrated the following with the introduction of AAC:

  • Increases in speech production—89%
  • No change in speech production—11%
  • Decreases in speech production—0%

But why? Think about it this way, we all use multiple forms of communication everyday (talk, point, facial expression, body language, etc.). AAC is no different; it can co-exist with other forms of communication as well. Research (Blischak, Lombardino, & Dyson, 2003; Hux et al., 2006) shows that AAC has a positive effect on speech because:

  • AAC increases and improves an individual’s participation in conversation with the ability to produce longer messages,
  • AAC reduces physical demands and the pressure to speak,
  • The immediate production of speech provides a model for the individual as well as an association between the word and the symbol, and
  • AAC can be used as a tool to cue word recall for older adults in conversation.

Click here to read the complete myth and the research behind it.

Can a child be too young to use AAC?

No. You can never be too young to enhance communication. AAC positively impacts language development, cognition, and literacy skills as well as participation in social, educational, and play environments which are all crucial to young children. AAC gives children potential to expand skills necessary for productive lives and will not negatively impact their development, and can enhance development of cognitive skills and play.

Click here to read the complete myth and the research behind it. 

Is AAC useful for an individual who has some speech?

Yes, AAC provides the support necessary to help an individual reach their full communicative potential when participating in conversation independently with both familiar and unfamiliar communication partners. AAC can be used in addition to their current expressive abilities while promoting relationship growth with others, independence, increased vocabulary, and deeper conversations. Additionally, AAC will help the individual develop language and literacy skills. While the ability to say a few words is great, it is not enough to communicate effectively with an unfamiliar communication partner. 

Click here to read the complete myth and the research behind it.  

What if an individual has a physical disability and is unable to touch a device?

That is okay! There are a variety of ways an individual can make selections on the AAC device. This is often referred to as the selection method. Individuals who are not able to touch the device can use eye tracking or scanning as their primary mode of selection.

Eye tracking is a technology that makes it possible for computers to know exactly where the user is looking and make a selection. When eye tracking is combined with speech generating devices, communication opportunities are enabled for people of all needs.

Click here to see our eye tracking devices.   

Scanning is the ability to use a switch used by a variety of body parts based on the individual’s physical needs. The buttons on the device screen highlight from left to right. When an individual wants to select a button, they simply hit their switch when the button of their choice is highlighted.  



We compiled a list of some of the most frequently asked questions when it comes to AAC.  

Where do I begin?

This simple Screening Questionnaire  can help you find out if an individual would benefit from AAC.A Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP) should perform a formal evaluation to determine if an AAC device is appropriate. The evaluation will assess and compare different devices to determine which one will allow you to achieve the highest level of communication success. Most school districts and private speech and language clinics either employ SLPs or can refer you to a qualified SLP in your area. The Tobii Dynavox consultant in your area can help you take the first step!

Click here to find out about your local consultant to discuss the possibility of getting a device.  

Can AAC help support positive behavior?

Behavior is a form of communication. A person’s behavior typically reflects their feelings toward a situation. People with communication difficulties often feel frustration in settings where they are unable to express themselves. Therefore, being able to effectively communicate with AAC can only enhance positive behavior. AAC offers individuals a way to express their feelings, needs, and desires as well as connect with others which can positively impact behavior.

Sometimes additional supports are needed to encourage positive communication. Visual supports such as visual schedules and communication boards are likely to decrease challenging behaviors in children (Johnston, Nelson, & Palazolo, 2003). These researchers used an AAC intervention with preschoolers. They found that with the use of symbols, children not only decreased their off-task behaviors, but also they also showed significant increases in initiating play.

Click here to watch and learn more about positive behavior supports.                               

How can I help?

You can help by creating a positive communication environment.  You can do this in the following ways:

Modeling is also  good way to encourage use of an AAC system. In order to learn how to use a communication aid it must be consistently demonstrated to them in the manner in which we expect them to use it. We do this with typically developing children through speech. We model speech every day when we talk; we need to model AAC use as well. To model using AAC, speak while simultaneously pressing the buttons on the AAC device to provide them with multimodal means of learning language.

For more information about communication partner skills and conversing with someone using AAC, download our free Pathways app to help!

Click here for more information about Pathways.  

Click here for more information on communicating with someone using AAC.  

How will I pay for a device?

The possibilities and process for getting your device differs from country to country. Depending on where you live, different organizations or agencies may pay for your device. In the US, Medicare, Medicaid, insurance or the department of Veterans Affairs may fund your device. In other countries, like Sweden, your municipality may pay for the device.

For more information, please visit your country specific website or contact a reseller near you who will be able to assist you with the process and necessary paperwork.

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