SP in Schools project 2017 Low Res V2

Complex communication needs and augmentative and alternative communication

Complex communication needs (CCN) is the term used to describe SLCN in association with cognitive, physical, perceptual, or sensory impairments. Students with CCN may have difficulties with understanding or using speech and language for communication, and may use different modes to add to, or as an alternative to their speech. Examples include using signs and gestures, a communication book or board with symbols, or a speech output device. These are called augmentative and alternative communication (AAC). CCN may lead to communication partners, including teachers, having reduced expectations, and providing reduced opportunities for communication participation and learning for students with CCN (Pennington & McConchie, 1999). Attempts to communicate may not be recognised or acknowledged. They may have fewer interactions and these may be shorter. Their needs may be anticipated and they may not be asked or expected to take their turn in interactions or within learning activities (Harris, 1982; Light, Collier, & Parnes, 1985). These reduced expectations and opportunities impact on opportunities for learning and using language. There is a broad scope of the desired outcomes of AAC interventions. The focus is not on teaching students to use symbols or devices, but to support them to share meaning and involvement in everyday life activities. Teachers may have trouble understanding how to integrate use of AAC - Augmentative and Alternative Communication into the learning environment. As well as working directly with the student to develop their communication skills, the speech pathologist plays an important role in supporting communication partners, both educators and other students, to understand how the student communicates, and the strategies to ensure that the student can participate in all activities at school, in the same way as other students. The Participation Model (Beukelman & Mirenda, 2014) provides a great framework to help identify goals for classroom participation, as well as the opportunity and skills based barriers which may need to be addressed to achieve these. Speech pathologists typically play an important role in

“The focus is not on teaching students

Definition of AAC An area of clinical and educational practice that provides communication strategies, techniques, and interventions for people with a range of communication limitations. The term “augmentative” in this context means supplemental or additional to speech. Augmentative techniques (e.g., gestures, facial expressions, and items of reference) are commonly used when communicating and interacting with others. The use of the term “alternative” acknowledges that there are some individuals whose speech is sufficiently impaired that they must rely completely on strategies, systems, and techniques which do not augment speech but are alternatives to speech (SPA, 2013). Purpose of AAC To enable the person to meet all of his/ her varied communication requirements as intelligibly, specifically, efficiently, independently and in as socially valued a manner as possible; and to understand others and to be understood (Porter, 2004). to use symbols or devices, but to support them to share meaning and involvement in everyday life activities.”


Speech Pathology Australia: Speech Pathology in Schools Project

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