Success in life can be directly related to the ability to communicate. Full interpersonal communication substantially enhances an individual's potential for education, employment, and independence. Therefore, it is imperative that the goal of augmentative and alternative communication (ACC) use be the most effective interactive communication possible. For more than three decades now, the field known as augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) has addressed the communication needs of individuals who cannot consistently rely on speech for functional communication. Changes that result from aphasia are sudden, unexpected, and unwanted. Adjustment is difficult for the person with aphasia. It also presents a great challenge to the family. There may be tension among family members and feelings of frustration and helplessness. The condition may seem hopeless. They may feel neglected and may find it difficult to have a family dependent on it. The American Speech and Hearing Association defines AAC as an area of clinical practice that attempts to compensate (either temporarily or permanently) for the impairment and disability patterns of individuals with severe expressive communication disorders (i.e., the severely speech-language and writing impaired). AAC incorporates the individual's full communication abilities and may include any existing speech or vocalizations, gestures, manual signs, and aided communication. AAC is truly multimodal, permitting individuals to use every mode possible to communicate. An AAC system is an integrated group of four components used by an individual to enhance communication. These four components are symbols, aids, techniques and/or strategies. Most people who rely on AAC can benefit from the ongoing services of speech-language pathologists and other professionals. Evidence-based practice using observational methods, baseline data collection, language activity monitoring, and automated performance measurement tools yields the most effective results. Today's growth in rehabilitation services and distance learning are opening up new venues for intervention. When people who rely on AAC have the benefit of a methodical and scientific process in the selection and application of an AAC system, they also have the highest potential for personal achievement. Those who encounter difficulty communicating via speech cross the life span from the young child to the older adult.


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