What is Aided Language Stimulation?

Aided language stimulation (also known as language modelling) is a common therapy technique used by speech pathologists to teach language to children who require any form of augmentative and alternative communication (AAC). AAC includes any form of communication additional to verbal speech such as key words signs, single visuals, communication books and electronic communication devices.

How to Use Aided Language Stimulation

This technique is when the communication partner points to (models) a symbol on the child’s communication system, while saying this word. Through repeatedly modelling different symbols on the communication system, the child begins to understand the meaning of these symbols and eventually use these symbols themselves to communicate. One example may be when playing cars with your child, model and say the word “stop” when the car is stopped, and then model and say “go” when you drive the car.

Benefits of Aided Language Stimulation

Aided language stimulation is an evidence-based strategy to teach the use of any form of aided language. It has been proven to be the most effective strategy for a child to develop an understanding of how their communication system can be used in natural communication environments. This technique has been shown to improve many different areas of communication including turn taking, vocabulary development, grammar and increasing the length of sentences.  

Tips

The following tips should be considered when implementing aided language stimulation:

  • Access – Always make sure your child has access to their communication system. Ensure that the device is charged, turned on, out of your child’s bag, and within arm’s length wherever they go. 
  • Model without expectation – When your child is first learning to use their communication system, they need to be repeatedly shown how to use it. This means modelling and saying words on their communication system, without the expectation that they will immediately start using the communication system themselves. It can be frustrating if your child is not yet expressively using their communication system, but this just means they need more time to be shown how to use it. This is like learning verbal language, first we must understand what a word means before we will use it correctly in context.
  • Wait – Model a word on your child’s communication system and then wait to see if they will take a turn in the interaction. If your child takes a turn by saying a word or using a gesture, respond and then see if they reply again.
  • Learn the language – Make sure you take the time to learn where different words are in your child’s communication system. Start by learning just a few words that you use often with your child. When you become more confident with using the communication system, learn where new words are and start modelling these words more often.
  • Respond – When interacting with a child learning to use their communication system, ensure that you respond to any attempt at communication. This can include a vocalisation, gesture, or eye contact. For example, if your child looks at a ball, you can say “You are looking at the ball. Do you want the ball?” At this time, you would also point to the symbol “ball” in their communication system.

Speech pathologists at Happy Dots are experienced in using Aided Language Stimulation with many different forms of augmentative and alternative communication (AAC). Please call 4959 8920 to inquire about our speech pathology services.

References

Beech, J. (2023). Aided Language Stimulation – Top Tips for Communication Partners. Liberator. https://liberator.net.au/news/aided-language-stimulation-top-tips-for-communication-partners.html

Braithwaite, S. Aided Language Stimulation. AssistiveWare. https://www.assistiveware.com/learn-aac/aided-language-stimulation.

Sennott, S. C., Light, J. C., McNaughton, D. (2016). AAC Modelling Intervention Research Review. Research and Practice for Persons with Severe Disabilities, 41(2), 101-115. 

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