“But my child speaks some words. Why would I even want to even consider augmentative communication?”
That’s a hard question, and it’s a very individualized question at the same time that it’s a group question. The decision to start augmentative communication should come from a conversation between you, your speech pathologist, and your assistive technology team. It should be a conversation about how your child or how your student is developing language and what that means for their overall language, literacy, and cognitive development.
Language is at the center of development, and speech is one way that we express that language. At the end of the day, for me, the most important part of the conversation is about developing language. When speech is difficult, for whatever reason — reasons we know and reasons we may not know — but when that speech is difficult and results in there being a significant delay in that expression of language, that is the perfect time to consider augmentative communication.
There is nothing about augmentative communication that stops verbal language from developing. It provides a mode of communication that is more accessible.
So, a couple of important points:
One, Symbol-It is not an augmentative communication system. Symbol-It is a way for me, as a caregiver, as a communication partner, to be able to speak in symbols so that I support that language development through symbols. The selection of an augmentative communication system — a speech-generating device — is an individualized decision based on the features and characteristics that the symbol speaker needs. That’s decided in the assessment. But Symbol-It can be an important tool that allows you and I to begin speaking in symbols and support that language development as soon as we realize that verbal language is not developing as it should. Symbol-It provides a way to make what we’re saying show up in picture symbols in real time.