Course Introduction

We know that the AAC world is full of deeply entrenched myths, common practices without strong evidence bases, controversial methods, and disagreements between professionals with different beliefs, backgrounds, and theoretical orientations. In this course, we’ve put together some of the best, recent, clinically-relevant research to help you work through some of that thorny tangle. Whether you’re an AAC specialist, a newbie, or somewhere in between, the newest research is your friend. It can fill in the gaps in your knowledge, make you reconsider an aspect of your current practice, or help a parent, coworker, or administrator understand your methods. 

We start off with a set of reviews that look broadly at principles behind intervention with children who use AAC. The papers discussed here are mostly systematic reviews or meta-analyses that compile all the recent, relevant, quality research on a topic to look for overlapping findings and areas of consensus. Topics include aided language input (AKA modeling, ALgS, and an assortment of other names), increasing communicative functions “beyond requesting” in children with autism who use AAC, and interventions that incorporate AAC and Functional Communication Training to replace unwanted behavior with more formal communication. Some of these articles are great “back pocket” papers that may be useful for you in the future. We see a lot of clinicians seeking published evidence behind their practices—you know what you’re doing is good practice, but just don’t have the citations to hand. These are the types of articles you’re looking for!

Next, we’ve included a few reviews that look specifically at assessment-related issues. Have you considered evaluating narrative abilities with your AAC users? Thought about how you could collect a valid language sample through the data-collection feature in many devices? Used dynamic assessment to help you evaluate syntactic ability? If not yet—get ready! 

The final group of reviews look at issues related to system selection and design, including vocabulary selection, the possible role for visual scene displays with older emergent communicators, and more. This isn’t a comprehensive guide to feature matching, and it won’t tell you what system is “best,” but it can help inform your mental pro/con list when you’re in the process.

Something you won’t read a lot about here? Interventions in the form of communication partner training, where the SLP works directly with peers or adults to help them support the AAC learner in their everyday environments. But why?—you say—That sounds like great stuff! It totally is. So great that we made a whole Part Two of this course devotedly just to that idea. Head on over there if you’re interested in a deeper dive.  

Learning Outcomes & Details

As a result of this course, participants will be able to:

  1. Describe the evidence for modeling AAC.

  2. Describe options for supporting narrative language skills in school-age AAC users.

  3. Describe assessment and intervention strategies for preschool AAC users.

Course Type: Text; Web or downloadable PDF

Time: This is an hour course.

ASHA CEUs: This course is offered for .1 ASHA CEUs (Intermediate level, Professional area)

Course Completion Requirements: Read the full course, then take a quiz at the end. Must pass with a score of 80% or better (two attempts allowed).

Questions? See our frequently asked questions.


Course edited and compiled by:

Meredith Harold, PhD, CCC-SLP is owner of The Informed SLP and faculty at Rockhurst University. Financial Disclosure— receives salary from The Informed SLP and Rockhurst University. Nonfinancial Disclosure— Vice President of Speech–Language Pathology for the Kansas Speech–Language–Hearing Association Board; Board member of the American Speech–Language–Hearing Association Committee on Clinical Research, Implementation Science, and Evidence-Based Practice.

Karen Evans, MA, CCC-SLP is a speech–language pathologist at Intermediate District 287, and employee of The Informed SLP. Financial Disclosure— receives salary from Intermediate District 287 and The Informed SLP. Nonfinancial Disclosure— None.

Full research and writing team bios can be found here. The Informed SLP’s researchers and writers are prohibited from having any financial or nonfinancial conflicts of interest related to the content they research and report on.

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This course is offered for .1 ASHA CEUs (Intermediate level, Professional area).