It can be frustrating for people when a speech or language disorder prevents them from easily communicating with others. The disorder may be so severe the patient may need augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) devices and methods to help them communicate. Gundersen Lutheran Speech Language Pathology has specialists trained in AAC to provide the best options for patients.
AAC helps people whose ability to communicate is severely impaired by illness, injury, stroke or aging. People with little or no understandable speech have trouble adequately expressing intentions, thoughts or feelings. They often rely on family, friends and providers to communicate for them. This can cause low self-esteem and make the person appear incompetent.
People who may benefit from AAC include children and adults with:
- Congenital disorders such as cerebral palsy, cognitive disability and autism.
- Acquired disorders including head injury and stroke.
- Progressive neurological diseases such as Lou Gehrig's disease, multiple sclerosis or Parkinson's disease.
- Temporary conditions such as tracheostomy.
A comprehensive evaluation of speech, language, cognition and motor skills is used to find the best system for a person’s communication needs. They get the opportunity to try various AAC devices in advance to determine the best one for them.
Devices may be basic or more hi-tech. They include:
- Picture and/or word communication boards or books
- Voice output devices.
- Devices with language-based picture codes.
- Dynamic display systems which display messages on a touch-activated screen.
- Keyboard that translates typed messages into synthesized speech.
For more information about augmentative and alternative communication or to schedule an appointment, call Gundersen Lutheran Neurosciences at (608) 775-6777 or (800) 362-9567, ext. 6777.