28 Oct 2021

Speech therapy for children living with disability

Xavier provides speech therapy to support children with disabilities that impact their ability to communicate. By working with one of our speech therapists we can help improve your child’s ability to:

  • Communicate their thoughts, needs and wants
  • Understand others
  • Ask and answer questions
  • Socialise with others
  • Make new friends
  • Follow instructions
  • Learn

There is more to communication than just talking, that’s where Augmentative and Alternative Communication comes in.

What is Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC)?

AAC refers to communication which combines hand gestures, eye movements, technology, and pointing at symbols to deliver meaning. We all regularly use these tools when we communicate, and Xavier helps support children living with disabilities that impact speech throughout Brisbane and the greater Brisbane area.

How will AAC support my child?

Utilising augmentative and alternative communication techniques supports the development of your child’s language skills, in turn increasing their participation in social interactions and their confidence in daily activities.

Xavier’s speech pathologists may recommend taking an AAC approach when a child struggles with speech development or does not verbally communicate at all. This kind of support provides your child with lifelong skills to successfully manage such disabilities.

AAC techniques can include combinations of the following:

  • Sign language – This can be either formal or informal signing with the hands. Learning an existing form of sign language is beneficial in communicating with others as well as developing fine motor skills, however a series of unique gestures understood between parent and child can help foster family communication and relationships.
  • Images and pictures – Having a chart, communication board, or even a photo album on hand which your child can point at to visually represent their thoughts.
  • Object symbols – This is similar to images and pictures, but instead of a chart your child chooses pieces of an object or a smaller version to represent the thing they are referring to.
  • Speech generating devices – Devices which speak a recorded message when used by your child. It can be as simple as pressing a button.
  • Writing and spelling – Writing messages down or using an alphabet board to spell out ideas.
  • Physical communication skills – This can refer to hand gestures such as pointing, mime and acting out ideas, facial expressions, and body language just to name a few.

Different AAC types

There are two main types of AAC: unaided and aided. Unaided AAC is the use of natural communication, finding ways to present an idea using your body without the assistance of external aid or devices. Examples of unaided AAC include:

  • Eye contact
  • Facial expressions
  • Body language
  • Movements
  • Hand gestures, such as pointing
  • Sign language

Aided AAC refers to external, technologically assisted forms of communications which your child can use to express their thoughts. Examples of aided AAC include:

  • High technology systems, such as iPads or other tablets, and speech generating devices.
  • Low technology systems, such as objects, pictures, images, photos, drawing, or writing.

Why might your child need a combination of AAC types?

We all use a combination of physical, verbal, and technological systems to communicate. Often chosen subconsciously, the decision how to communicate depends on a wide variety of factors such as the relationship between speaker and listener, the task or activity at hand, the physical distance between communicators, coded meanings, and even simply the emotions behind what is being said. 

This is just as true for children leaving with disabilities that impact their communication. They will have ideas to express and contexts in which to communicate. Therefore, a single AAC system may not meet your child’s needs in every possible situation they encounter.

Fortunately, Xavier’s speech pathologists are not confined to a single form of AAC. We can help with aided or unaided communication, with written communication, the use of gestures or objects. Whichever way your child finds best to express themselves and their ideas, our team can help them find it and support them in their speech development. 

Support your child’s speech development with AAC

Parental support and involvement with your child’s AAC therapy is important for strengthening their ongoing speech development. There are plenty of ways you can assist your child, here are just a few:

Vocabulary choices – Parents are the best people to help your child select the most effective words, pictures, and objects for their AAC vocabulary, as you know what most interests them and motivates them to communicate.

Consistent evaluation – AAC techniques should change to match your child’s needs as they develop and grow. As a parent, you’ll be the first to spot and address these changes.

Regular communication – For AAC therapy to be effective, it needs to happen as regularly as possible. By utilising these techniques in the home, your child will be applying them constantly and therefore building the positive habits they need to utilise AAC as best they can.

Xavier Locations

Xavier can provide your child with AAC speech therapy from one of the clinic locations listed below. We also have speech therapists who are able to work with you and your child from the familiarity of you own home.

  • Wooloowin
  • Ipswich
  • North Lakes
  • Scarborough

View our community clinics page

Find out more

Our team of Speech Pathologists are here to support your child to develop their language skills. Simply call 1800 XAVIER or email for further information.