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How to Choose an AAC Speech Device for Your Child

aac speech device. The infographic shows different types of AAC.

As a parent, you have a lot of decisions to make. If you’re the parent of a child who is not speaking, choosing the right communication support is at the top of that list. With so many AAC speech devices to choose from, how do you know which one is the best fit? Here are a few things to consider on your quest to find the best AAC speech device for your child’s needs and goals.

Try Goally’s AAC Speech Device for Your Family

Goally’s AAC app is an excellent option for many families. It’s easy to set up and has an expert-informed design. With our easy-to-use web portal, you can customize your talker in under 10 minutes. Designed by a Speech-Language Pathologist with 20 years of experience, our AAC is trusted by clinicians and parents everywhere. Goally also has word games, customizable visual schedules, checklists, reminders, and more! Try Goally today and let us know how it goes in the comments below!

Best Parent-Approved AAC App:

A close-up image of an adult demonstrating a speech sound, featured on the best tablet for kids by Goally for AAC learning

Goally comes with an easy-to-use, fully customizable AAC device to help kids communicate. If you’re on a waitlist, this is the fastest way to get your child access to an AAC Talker and start communicating!

Partner with an AAC Professional

As you explore AAC options, consider three factors: language, access, and personal preferences. You’ll need to find an AAC solution that provides enough language to support what your child wants to say now, and what they need to learn as they grow. You’ll also need to consider your child’s vision and physical skills (AKA “access”) to help you decide how to display language on an AAC device. Many children are able to access words on an AAC speech therapy device by simply touching the screen. Others may need support to use their fingers to communicate or may need alternative ways to get to their words. For example, they may need to use accessibility switches or eye gaze. A speech therapist, special educator, or another professional with an AAC certification is an important resource as you search.

AAC professionals undergo training to observe your child. They know how to ask the right questions to help you make the best AAC choice among the overwhelming sea of options. This professional can guide you and your family as you work to integrate an AAC system into your lives. They can help by providing support and strategies at each step of the journey.

aac speech device. a boy is using an aac speech device to communicate with a person.
Read more: How Do I Teach My Child to Use an AAC Talker?

Choose an AAC Option With Core Words

Finding an AAC system that has the right language for your child’s needs is the most important factor. In this context, the term language refers not only to the language that you speak at home. It also refers to the types and number of words that are available to use on your communication device. AAC apps tend to offer lots of options, but choose an option with core vocabulary. Core words are those that all of us use to say most of what we want to say throughout the day. There are about 500 core words in total that are “at the core” of everyday communication.

This small set of functional words allows kids to communicate quickly in lots of different situations. This makes core vocabulary a powerful starting point for emerging AAC communicators. Luckily, many AAC devices offer you the ability to add personal words that are important to your family, so you can build on your child’s foundation. You’ll want to make sure that your AAC speech device of choice has individual words available – not just stock phrases or sentences. This is because these are the building blocks of creating novel sentences to express a range of ideas. Of course, sometimes we need to communicate quickly or we need to say something, in the same way, each time. (e.g, Hi! ! What’s your name?). Having a way to add some quick social and safety phrases to the system is also a good feature to look for.

Read more: What is Speech Therapy?

Try a Few AAC Devices Before You Decide

Along with understanding your child’s needs, the needs of your family have a big impact on AAC success. You’ll never know how an AAC speech therapy device fits into your family if you don’t give it a try. Many AAC manufacturers provide a way for families to take their products for a spin. More and more AAC app developers are also offering options that allow families to try AAC programs at home before they make a forever choice. You might consider comparing at least two options during your AAC test drive, keeping the following questions in mind as you explore the fit of each:

  • Does this system have all the words I want my child to have access to?
  • Is it easy enough for me and others in my family to add new words when we need to?
  • Can I see myself using this tool each day to provide a model of how my child can use it?
  • Does the tool physically fit into our daily life size, physical features, battery life, etc…?
  • Does my child seem to like this tool? If not, why might this be?
  • Do I like this tool? If not, why might this be?

Choose an AAC Talker to Fit Your Family

You’ll want to use a trial AAC system across your daily activities, including when you’re at home, at school, and out and about. This widespread try-out helps you and your AAC team discover needs and issues that you might not have discussed at the start of your AAC search. After all, it’s hard to anticipate all the things, all of the time, right? As you try each tool on for size, focus on exploring the ins and outs of the software on your own. Explore the words, where to find them, and how to add new ones. When you and your child are trying the AAC device out together, keep it fun and low pressure. Use the tool to model words for your child, and observe how they respond.

aac speech device. a girl uses a aac speech device to communicate.
Read more: What Are the Types of AAC?

Choosing the Right AAC Speech Device: Your Family’s Communication Companion

When it comes to selecting an AAC speech therapy device for your child, it’s essential to find a tool that not only meets their needs but also aligns with your preferences and values as a family. Consider it a tiebreaker when you come across a robust AAC tool that resonates with you right from the start.

However, if you don’t feel an immediate connection with a particular AAC device, don’t hesitate to reach out to your AAC support team. They can help you explore alternative options that may better suit your family’s unique requirements. Perhaps there’s a different tool that aligns more closely with your needs or additional coaching that can assist you in integrating the device seamlessly into your everyday parenting and teaching.

A close-up image of an adult demonstrating a speech sound, featured on the best tablet for kids by Goally for AAC learning

Goally | Apps that Teach Kids AAC & Core Words

Is your child facing challenges in expressing themselves or communicating effectively? Goally has one of the best language language learning apps for kids to support their journey in building essential communication skills!

Goally's AAC Talker app and Word Lab app displayed on 2 Goallys. There's text that reads "Teach AAC and Core Words."

The Word Lab and AAC Talker apps provide a simple, engaging platform for your child to learn core words and become a functional communicator right from the start. Customize the experience with a voice that suits them, and watch as their confidence grows in expressing their thoughts and needs!

Remember, selecting an AAC speech therapy device is just the beginning of a communication journey that takes time and dedication. While finding the right tool is an important step, it’s equally crucial to approach the process with patience and persistence. With your family’s new AAC sidekick and a commitment to fostering communication skills, you’re on the path to unlocking greater success in your child’s communication development.

This post was originally published on 09/20/2022. It was updated on 10/20/2023.

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