Myth 1: AAC is a "last resort" in
The use of AAC interventions should not be contingent on failure to
develop speech skills or considered a last resort because AAC can
play many roles in early communication development. In fact, it is
critical that AAC be introduced before communication failure occurs.
This change means that AAC is not only for the older child who has
failed at speech development but also for a young child during the
period when he or she is just developing communication and language
skills, to prevent failure in communication and language development.
Myth 2: AAC hinders or stops further
This fear that many parents, and some practitioners, have is simply not
supported by the available empirical data. The literature actually
suggests just the opposite outcome. There are a modest number of
empirical studies that report improvement in speech skills after AAC
intervention experience. For very young children, the use of AAC does
not appear to hinder speech development (Cress, 2003). In fact, it may
enhance the development of spoken communication, which should be a
simultaneous goal for intervention.
Myth 3: Children must have a certain
set of skills to be able to benefit
In the past, young children with some degree of cognitive disability
were frequently excluded from AAC intervention because their assessed
levels of intelligence and their sensorimotor development were not
commensurate with cognitive/sensorimotor skills that had been linked to
early language development. While one may argue that some basic
cognitive skills are essential for language to develop, the exact
relationship between language and cognition have not been specified
clearly. Investigators have argued against excluding children from AAC
interventions based upon intellectual performance and/or prerequisite
sensorimotor skills. Given the overall impact language exerts on
cognitive development, a lack of expressive language skills may put an
individual at a distinct developmental disadvantage. Developing
language skills through AAC may be of critical importance if the
individual is to make functional cognitive gains as well.
Myth 4: Speech-generating AAC devices
are only for children with intact
Newer devices sometimes require little skill and can provide a place of
introduction to AAC for the young child. The AAC device is simply a
tool, a means to an end—language and communication skills—not the end
in itself. Having a voice at a young age can facilitate self-identity
as well as communication.
Myth 5: Children have to be a certain
age to be able to benefit from AAC.
Current research clearly
the efficacy of communication services and supports provided to
infants, toddlers, and preschoolers with a variety of severe
Myth 6: There is a representational
hierarchy of symbols from objects to
written words (traditional
This myth suggests that a child can only learn symbols in a
representational hierarchy. The hierarchy begins with real objects to
photographs, to line drawings, to more abstract representations, and
then to written English words (traditional orthorgraphy). evidence from
the literature on typical language development suggests that this myth
is not based on evidence about how young children learn. In fact,
during early phases of development, it may not matter if the child uses
abstract or iconic symbols because to the child they all function the
Romski, M., & Sevcik, R. (2005).
Augmentative communication and early intervention: myths and realities.
Infants & Young Children: An
Interdisciplinary Journal of Special Care Practices, 18(3), 174-185.