Looking for Some Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) Modeling Motivation?

How many times have you heard that using aided language input is a key strategy to teach the augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) learners in your life? If you follow AAC blogs and groups, participate in AAC professional development, or read AAC articles, the answer is probably “a lot.”

We ran an AAC modeling implementation intention “experiment” the first two weeks of May for Better Hearing and Speech Month (#BHSM). For more details, check out this link.  As part of the “Make Room for AAC Modeling ‘Experiment,” each day for the fourteen day challenge, we shared a #modelingmotivation on the Speak for Yourself Facebook page.  For those of you who weren’t able to participate in “real time,” I thought it might be helpful to have some modeling motivation any time you want it! SO here is the information that was shared over the two week “experiment.”


Today’s motivation is the Jane Korsten quote that many of you may have already seen. (I’m attaching the graphic that Rachael Langley created.)

If you’re reading this quote for the first time, many people (especially parents) say they feel overwhelmed…Like they’ve already lost years of language exposure for their child.

But instead, let it motivate you to start increasing their exposure to an expressive language system now. Your children have been listening. They hear language all day, every day. They know the words.

Based on Jane’s numbers, if you have a six year old, he has heard 17,520 hours of spoken language. That time hasn’t been wasted. He’s been listening.

Using aided language input on an AAC system makes expressive language accessible. It provides a way for someone using AAC to participate in the conversation happening around them.

Show them how it’s done…and start today!

Day 2

If you missed yesterday in the Make Room for AAC Modeling “Experiment,” start today! I’ve left a few days between the end of the experiment and the survey to allow for a back up plan. 😉

Today’s #ModelingMotivation is a post I wrote more than 3 years ago. It gives a detailed explanation about how to model one more word than your child/student is using independently.

You don’t have to be perfect, and it doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Have fun and enjoy the time talking with your child!

“One of the more common, and important, Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) implementation strategies is Aided Language Input or modeling.  It would be overwhelming to use your child’s/client’s device to model EVERY word you are saying verbally…for you and the child!  Here’s the good news, you can successfully use Aided Language Input without overwhelming anyone!”

Day 3

How is everyone doing?

My time spent with students is generally already carved out for aided language input, but yesterday, I knew the class was going on a walk during the time I would be there. It’s not a walk around the school. It’s a walk through the town to a store. There are traffic lights, crosswalks, dogs, cars, and other people. There’s a lot going on and it’s usually a difficult time to model.

In the spirit of this challenge, I planned to do it anyway. Everyone else was talking as we walked down the street. The student’s 1:1 aide is excellent so the student’s safety was covered.

The “place” I planned to model was when we stopped. So I modeled things like “waiting,” “red light,” “go now,” “need stop,” “walk school.” The student vocalized and watched the cars and lights changing.  She didn’t seem to care about the modeling, but she also didn’t tell me to stop (which she does if she wants me to stop:).

She never used the device herself as we were walking, but she didn’t clear the message window either (which she does pretty vigilantly).

Occasionally, as she was walking she’d slide her hand down to the device hanging at her side. Without looking at it, she’d touch the message window, causing the device to speak the modeled words.

Something important to remember about AAC modeling is that you’re not always going to get immediate results. She didn’t use any of the words I modeled yesterday independently. BUT she seemed to enjoy walking and talking.

Using aided language input lays the groundwork that communication is a positive experience, and you can use AAC anywhere. Take the pressure off of yourself and the AAC learner. Know that when you use aided language input, you’re not only teaching words. You’re teaching them that you want to hear their voice…everywhere.

Day 4

Today’s #modelingmotivation is a throwback post from PrAACtical AAC. 

“Everyone can do it. This is not a strategy reserved for highly trained professionals. Some of the best implementers I’ve ever seen of this strategy were paraprofessionals and family members. Even peers can get in on the action. Learning from friends? Yes, please!”

Day 5

If you’ve been getting “stuck,” today’s #modelingmotivation might help you problem solve your aided language stimulation approach. This is a quick 2 page hand out from Assistive Technology Australia.

If you’re having a difficult time modeling or feel like you’re in a rut, consider changing something in one of the areas they mention. The more you do it, the easier it gets!

Day 6

Today, I’m sharing some phrases you can model. Today.

This post contains lists of two, three, and four word core word utterances that you can pretty easily apply at some point throughout every day. This is our most often pinned post on Pinterest. I hope it gives you the #modelingmotivation you need today!

Day 7

We’re halfway through the 2 week plan to carve out the time and place to model AAC for the people in your life who are using.

For those of you who are motivated by evidence-based research, here is a research article.

“The most important clinical implication of this study is that a 3-week intervention program in aided language stimulation was sufficient to facilitate the comprehension of at least 24 vocabulary items in 4 children with LNFS (little or no functional speech).”

Day 8

As we begin the second week, today’s #modelingmotivation is a post by Kate Ahern about the importance of language rich immersion in AAC.

“Even if they were adults with full receptive language, a lifetime of experience in the world and average cognitive abilities AND they spent ALL 30 hours a week at school fully engaged in AAC learning (including during transitions, meals and hygiene activities) it would take approximately six months to get to basic communication mastery.”

Day 9

Today’s #modelingmotivation is a research article looking at a naturalistic approach and modeling. 

Here are some of the key takeaways from the article (in case you don’t have time to look at the full study).

The third one is my favorite…even if the child doesn’t use the SGD, YOUR use of it can result in language gains!

* “using an SGD within an effective naturalistic developmental behavioral intervention may facilitate longer and more frequent reciprocal communication interactions, leading to gains in verbal and nonlinguistic communication skills” (p. 11) in 5-8 year-old children with autism.

* In the SGD group, significant differences were seen in spontaneous communicative utterances and initiating joint attention.

* “…the gains made by children… could be explained by the therapist modeling SGD use, with or without child SGD use” (p. 12).

Day 10

This article has a lot of great information for #modelingmotivation!

“The attitudes, beliefs and knowledge of the student’s communication partners are pivotal in the success story of any kind of Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC).”

Day 11

Today’s #modelingmotivation is a post that has a couple of videos of me using aided language input. Sometimes it helps to actually see it happening (and see the things I do imperfectly:).

This post also talks about the layers of modeling and how students sometimes need a lot of exposure before they decide to reach out and touch the device.

Feel free to link your favorite AAC modeling videos in the comments (it doesn’t have to be on the Speak for Yourself app).

Day 12

Here are some new ideas, as we’re winding down to the end of this 2 week challenge/experiment.

So, for today’s #modelingmotivation, this is an older aided language stimulation information sheet. It has some great suggestions and some more in-depth details about variation in modeling approaches.

If you’re feeling like your modeling has become a little stagnant, check it out!

Day 13

Today’s #modelingmotivation is this video by Christopher Bugaj that explains modeling and gives some good examples of phrases to model.

It’s also easy to understand if you’re trying to explain why aided language input is important to peers, siblings, and people who may not be familiar with AAC.

Day 14

For today’s #modelingmotivation this is a great summary handout that explains aided language input, gives some examples of how you can model, and cites research.

We made it! Today is the final day of the two week challenge/”experiment” about modeling implementation intentions!

Thanks to all of you who have participated and shared your experiences! Stay tuned for the results!

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