I am not a Speech Pathologist, I am a mum first.

I get asked all the time if I am a Speech Pathologist. I am not, I am a mum, who backed up every day oral speech with pictures. Opening up a world of language and interaction for my then non-verbal son.

A term used for this type of therapy is Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC). AAC is described as alternative communication method other than oral speech.

At first, I was sceptical, concerned that this method would hinder natural speech development and of course, there was the overwhelming task of developing the pictures.

Did I have the time for such a big task? Well, the answer is no, I did not have the time, but I made the time.

Was it the best thing I ever did? By far, the answer is yes.

Why? It is simple, pictures are a concrete form of communication, they allow for a quicker processing time. Pictures are non-transient, in some cases, verbal speech gets lost and needs to be repeated several times, over and over before it is understood.

I am a visual thinker, not a language based thinker, my brain is like google images. – Temple Grandin

Read more on Temple Grandin

We concentrated on using visual communication strategies combined with using keywords only, modelling and lots of body and facial expression.

Some other forms of AAC used to supplement speech are:

• Keyword sign
• Body, facial expressions
• Visual Communication Strategies – pictures, symbols
• Electronic Communication Aids

Who will benefit from using AAC to supplement speech:

• People with Autism (ASD), Aspergers
• People with Down Syndrome
• People with auditory processing difficulties
• People with language and learning developmental disabilities
• People with ADD/ADHD
• People with Dementia
• People with English as a second language
• Toddlers beginning to speak

Our goal was to build receptive language (understanding), then work on the expressive language. Opposed to hindering oral speech, using pictures did the exact opposite. They fast tracked the development of oral communication and opened a world of opportunities.

More on our story

Till next time


Alison Mooney

I am a mother first, Blogger and Founder of See-n-Speak Communication Picture Exchange resources for people with a Disability. Sharing our resources and knowledge successfully using picture exchange as a form of communication with our child.

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