Using a child’s AAC device to instruct them on AAC

“Augmented input” is when the clinician or communication partner uses the child’s AAC system to communicate with the child (aka: aided language stimulation, aided language modeling, aided AAC modeling… not perfect synonyms, but all meaning nearly the same thing).

So, what do we know about the impact of augmented input? This article reviews data from many studies to examine both receptive and expressive outcomes (from kids ages 2–25; wide variety of disorders and communication abilities). Findings indicate that, “…augmented input can improve single-word vocabulary skills and expression of multi-symbol utterances…”.

Additional important points from this study:

  1. The authors discuss how, though plenty of data show that augmented input supports expressive skill acquisition, we know very little about whether it supports comprehension, with some studies on receptive vocabulary but not receptive syntax. The authors state, “Remarkably, there is not yet evidence regarding the effect of augmented input on receptive syntax skills…” Overall, “… receptive skills are an overlooked outcome of AAC interventions…” (by both clinicians and researchers) and, “The uneven focus on output over input among AAC clinicians (Trudeau et al., 2014) means that children from any diagnostic population who use AAC are at risk for receptive grammar deficits (Binger & Light, 2008).”
  2. Not all versions of augmented input are identical. If you’re looking to the literature to replicate techniques, the two with the strongest evidence are: AAC modeling and Aided Language Modeling (ALM). These have “well-defined dosages”, too. For example, from AAC modeling studies, “… at least 30 models should be provided in a 15-min session (Binger & Light, 2007).” Also, ALM studies have shown that, “…when combining symbols or pointing to referents, there should be no more than a 2-s delay (Drager et al., 2006).”

Allen, A.A, Schlosser, R.W., Brock, K.L., Shane, H.C. (2017). The effectiveness of aided augmented input techniques for persons with developmental disabilities: a systematic review. Augmentative and Alternative Communication. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1080/07434618.2017.1338752