Augmentative & Alternative Communication (AAC) Systems


To develop the knowledge and skills that are required to design, assess and teach children with autism to use AAC systems to communicate. These systems include Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS), tablet-based communication tools, speech generation devices, and evidence-based communication apps.


I selected AAC systems as one of my areas of focus, as I have worked with a number of children with autism and have witnessed their need for assistive technology as an alternative communication with their surroundings. As I progressed in my studies and became proficient in the field, I have learned that AAC communication systems can be very beneficial in every aspect of life, and that using such devices helps children with autism communicate their desires, needs, interests and preferences independently and effectively. I have since combined a variety of AAC systems with other strategies, thus experiencing success in my intervention goals.

Here comes the sun

Here Comes the Sun is a great example of an alternative way of communication. Although it is unlike any of the conventional AAC systems, it is a song that communicates through its music and lyrics a whole rainbow of emotions, hopes, and longings of the human experience. This song reminds us that there are many and varied ways to communicate and interact with others, and that each person can find their own unique way of doing so.

How AAC systems impact my practice

Through the process of developing my skills in designing and implementing AAC systems for children with autism who require the use of alternative ways to communicate, I gained knowledge about the many types of AAC systems, devices and strategies that can be used to help, support or replace natural speech. I learned that the AAC mode being used by a child may change depending on the context, preference or skill level, and that choosing an aided AAC system requires careful consideration of the individual’s strengths and needs. Following my in-depth study on the topic, I can now use in my practice the Exchange Communication System (PECS) for people without functional speech, using an application on an iPad and computer or tablet devices that can be adapted based on preferences, and a speech generating device (SGD), that can be used for producing verbal speech output.


EPSE 549 | Seminar in Autism

Case Study for Problem-Based Learning – Augmentative and Alternative Communication systems

I chose the presentation on a case study as an artifact, because it addresses my area of focus ‘AAC Systems’, as part of my interest and ongoing journey to explore the benefits of assistive technology as an alternative communication system among children with autism. This presentation gave me the opportunity to share the positive results of the AAC system, and to present such system as an effective tool in working with children with autism.


I selected PECS as an artifact, because I use this system of picture exchange with one of my clients to improve their functional speech. This system has successfully been implemented to support their communication challenges. My client learned to exchange single pictures for items or activities he really wanted, and to generalize this new skill by using it in different settings, with different people and in different distances. After phase 1 and 2, my client moved to phase 3, choosing from two or more pictures in the array to request their favourite things, desires and needs. The next step would be to build sentences with attributes and language expansion.

Song/Instrument Choice Boards

I selected this song/instrument choice board as an artifact, as non-verbal learners can use such boards to communicate what song/instrument they want by exchanging the selected icon. This visual board was designed for my work as a music instructor in groups with early learners with autism, where each learner got the opportunity to request for their favourite song and/or instrument. These choice boards allow learners to make choices on their own, and develop better eye contact, while promoting speech, providing opportunities to interact with another person.