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Communication systems, strategies, and tools that replace or supplement natural speech are known as augmentative alternative communication (AAC). AAC helps people meet basic needs and participate in the world around them. AAC includes, assistive technology, or the use of any equipment, tool, or strategy to improve functional daily living in individuals with disabilities or limitations. AAC can include no/low-tech, or high-tech speech-generating devices (SGDs).

How can Speech-Language Pathologists (SLPs) at Breakthrough Behavior help with AAC?

​Breakthrough Behavior SLPs can offer specialized AAC diagnostics, SGD trials, options for funding requests to obtain a dedicated SGD through insurance, device fitting/programming, and training.

Communicating without speech is difficult. People who do not speak are at a disadvantage in a speaking world. It can be confusing and frustrating when messages cannot be given effectively. But SLPs can assist those individuals with AAC needs by providing specialized clinical/educational services (diagnosis, assessment, planning, and treatment), advocacy, education, administration, and research. 

Benefits of AAC for individuals with autism include:

  • stronger friendships and deeper relationships

  • richer, more frequent social interactions

  • deeper social roles: family member, friend, professional, student

  • increased autonomy and decision-making power over their own life

  • increased independence

  • more respect from others

  • greater participation in their family lives and communities

  • improved information sharing with physicians

  • improved personal safety in a variety of care settings, such as hospitals or long-term facilities

  • more employment and volunteer opportunities

  • improved physical and mental health

How Do I Obtain a Speech Device?

  1. Contact us now to schedule your evaluation

  2. Work with us on receiving a referral from your child's doctor

  3. Talk to our team about funding options and insurance coverage for durable medical equipment (DME) and SGDs

  4. Complete the AAC evaluation with one of our specialized SLPs

  5. Finalize the SGD funding packet

  6. Receive your SGD

  7. Contact us for a follow-up appointment and let's start talking!

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AAC supports speech development. This has been documented in multiple research studies and in clinical practice, too. When provided with AAC, the vast majority of people say more words with their natural speech.


AAC builds language skills. With AAC, individuals aren’t limited to saying only what their mouths can produce. For example, it allows them to put endings on words to make plurals and past tense. It also helps them move from simple sentences (e.g., “I want cookie”) into more complex sentences (e.g., “I want a big cookie because I worked hard”).


There are no cognitive prerequisites to AAC use. AAC is used successfully with people who have significant intellectual disabilities. They need considerable support, but with good services and consistent implementation, these individuals can make considerable gains in their communication skills.


People learn AAC best when others use it to talk to them. In this way, it is similar to learning a foreign language. We’d all learn to speak a new language more easily if our teachers, therapists, friends and family spoke that language.


AAC helps build literacy skills. The language, sequencing and exposure to print on AAC systems is helpful for people who are or (could be) learning to read.


Some speaking people need AAC and use it when highly stressed. There are adults with autism who speak well, have college degrees, hold good jobs, and are raising families who have significant difficulty talking when they are tired, sick or stressed. AAC helps them during these times. They then go back to speaking normally when they feel better.


AAC can reduce the severity and frequency of challenging behavior. With appropriate intervention, research and clinical practice has demonstrated that AAC can be an effective substitute for things like hitting, grabbing, dropping to the floor, or throwing things.