I was recently asked over Twitter to share my experiences with AAC. My most recent experiences are as a full time AAC user (damn operation anaesthetic going wrong) but before that i had been using AAC when i was unabe to speak for about 10 years!
I sometimes hear of situation where AAC is denied to someone on the assumption that this is better for the user long term as it will "promote" speech.
I think this is well meaning, but utimately it does not stand up to analysis. In my experience, this approach can do more damage than good.
The basic premise is along the lines that if someone has difficulty with speech, but giving them alternatives they will "try" less with speech and that less speech is a bad thing.
I’d say thats kinda the wrong way around. For me having the AAC means i am under less pressue, less pressure means less anxiety and thus i am less overloaded and more able to speak.
In short, having access to AAC and the ability to use it when needed, helps to reduce the pressure and stress related to communication which in turn means i am better able to speak.
If i was denied AAC my speech would get worse not better.
Here’s an anology. Lets pretend that speech is Fruit and AAC is bread. We can agree that generally speaking fruit is prefferable to bread.
To apply the same logic as above:
The person cannot eat fruit due to being alergic. So rather than provide bread, the person is starved because "fruit is better". See what i mean.
In my view and experience the focus should not be speech but communication. Provide the tools needed for communication and speech will follow as the user is ready.