Treating Aphasia Through AAC Devices

Speech-language pathologists (SLPs) often recommend an AAC or speech-generating device to individuals with moderate to severe aphasia. Although the benefits of these devices are well established, individuals and caregivers often draw their own conclusions without consulting the SLP. For example, caregivers may mistakenly believe that an AAC device is the proverbial “end of the road” and that their loved one will never improve. However, research and clinical experience show just the opposite.  Here is a list of common myths about AAC communication devices and the reality of them.

Myth #1: Using an AAC Communication Device Will Prevent or Slow Natural Speech.

Reality: AAC-specific research shows using an AAC device does not stop or deter the progression or recovery of natural speech.  Recovery is an ongoing process, and active and purposeful engagement by both the person with aphasia and their caregiver is crucial. For many people with aphasia, a communication device is an important component in the ongoing rehabilitation process. The right device can be used to facilitate the use of verbal language and even help to restore a person’s verbal skills so that they can speak for themselves.

Myth #2: Using an AAC Communication Device Will Instantly Fix Everything.

Reality: AAC communication devices will not instantly help the person with aphasia regain their natural speech. Integrating a communication device into everyday life is a process that takes time, patience, practice, and support. But the work is well worth it. Once learned, a communication device can significantly change a person’s life by allowing them to communicate more freely and helping them to regain their relationships and independence.

Myth #3: As Long as I Understand Him or Her, We Don’t Need a Device.

Reality: Caregivers often believe that as long as they understand the person, there’s no need for him or her to have a communication device. But the reality is that other people may not understand what he or she is expressing. As a result, the person can become socially isolated and lose their sense of identity. Communication devices help people with aphasia to more effectively interact with others during everyday activities, like spending time with family, ordering at a restaurant, or visiting the doctor.  Even caregivers benefit by not having to communicate on the person’s behalf at all times.

Myth #4: AAC Devices Are Only for People Who Have Long Term Aphasia.

Reality: Research shows that the use of a communication device is more successful when it is introduced early in the recovery process.  It can aid in the recovery of speech as well as help the person with aphasia more accurately express their needs in their physical recovery. If a person can express exactly how they feel, both physically and emotionally, they can make progress down the road of recovery even faster.

Learn More About Speech-Generating Devices

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