As SLPs we often work with emergent communicators. How we model with them needs to be tailored to their specific needs. Below I share more about what an emergent communicator is and my best tips for using AAC modelling with them. 

What is an Emergent Communicator

Emergent communicators can use the following modes of communication:

  • facial expressions, 
  • body language, 
  • gestures, 
  • vocalizations, and 
  • other non-symbolic modes of communication. For example: smiling, reaching for what they want, taking your hand to what they want. They make wants known indicated by reaching toward something, looking at it, and leg movements.

Introducing AAC to Emergent Communicators

My number one tip for introducing AAC to emergent communicators is to remember beginning communicators talk about what they want to talk about. Make sure what you are modelling is meaningful and hopefully fun to them. 

Once you are communicating about something they are interested in, then it’s important to model without expectation. Invite don’t demand that they take part in the activity. 

Being prepared as an SLP

As an SLP, it can feel intimidating navigating how to use a device and knowing what to do when using AAC. Particularly if it’s the first time you’ve worked with AAC or a particular device.

If this is you, then quickly get familiar with the device. Most devices are fairly straightforward to use once you’ve used them a few times. I’ve been sharing reviews of devices and apps on Instagram. You can find them in my Instagram feed

I recommend knowing a few basics and starting with core words like in, put, finished, more, want, like, go. Choose an activity that happens everyday like snack time, circle time, lining up time. That way you’ll get lots of practice every day. 

Remembering to keep it fun, simple, consistent and real.

Setting goals is a great way to help you do this. To help you set AAC goals, I’ve created the Ultimate AAC Goal Planning Blueprint which you can download for free here.

If you’d like to hear more about modelling with emergent communicators you can listen to my podcast interview on the Dabbling Speechie Podcast with Felice Clark.

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Modelling for emergent communicators