Alternative and Augmentative Communication (AAC) at Fairfield School
At Fairfield school we believe everyone has a right to a voice, to be listened to and have the right to be part of the community, in the way that works best for them, and for their communication to be as important as everyone else’s.
What is AAC?
The term AAC (alternative and augmentative communication) is used to describe the different methods that can be used to help our pupils communicate with others. These methods can be used as an alternative to speech or to supplement it.
What do we use?
We use a “Total Communication” approach at Fairfield this is about finding and using the right combination of communication methods for each person.
Children are encouraged to use vocalisations, speech, gestures, facial expression, body language and other forms of natural communication.
It is also recognised that for children to develop their understanding and expressive skills it is necessary to use more structured systems.
Developing a communication system can be a long and complex process, lots of training and practice is needed for all the people involved. We use lots of different systems at Fairfield School
Objects of Reference – an object is closely associated with and comes to represent an activity, a person or event. These objects give the person information about what is going to happen. Some pupils will use the actual objects for an activity for example a cup to represent a drink and some pupils will use miniature representations for example a handle of a cup to represent a drink.
We use objects of reference to make stories more relevant and interesting and use sounds, smells and tactile sensory experiences too.
Symbol systems– these are pictures with words written underneath and the ones we use are called PCS symbols (Picture Communication Symbols) symbols are used to aid understanding. The symbols can be presented in various ways including charts, boards, and communication books and on individual cards.
We also use symbols as part of as Picture Exchange Communication system (PECS) the pictures are given to another person in exchange for an item for example a picture of a biscuit is exchanged for an actual biscuit.
They can also be used on high tech communication device and we have students use them on devices called Grid Pads and IPads.
Signing systems – Makaton is a language program using signs and symbols to help our pupils communicate. It is designed to support spoken language and the signs are used with speech in spoken word order.
Low Tech communication systems – some of our pupils have communication books, these are paper based books which have symbols in for the pupil to use to make choices and communicate their needs.
We also use single message devices for example BIGmacks which is a simple speech communication aid that can be used to record sounds or messages for the pupil to press to hear.
High tech communication systems– alongside a low tech communication system some pupils have a high tech communication aid for example a Grid Pad with the Grid 3 communication software. These are sophisticate devices that have dynamic page sets that can be personalised for each individual pupil.
However our pupils communicate all systems are highly valued, respected and everyone has a voice and something to contribute.