How to have a conversation with an AAC user

A BIG part of communication revolves around sharing ideas, making comments, and enjoyment! Requesting is only a small part of communication, but many AAC users get stuck at this stage. Conversational turn-taking should be worked on at the same time as requesting. Here are four tips for encouraging conversational turn-taking with an AAC user: 

•      Wait time: get comfortable with waiting. AAC is not as fast as speech and requires the communication partner practice patience.

•      Understand the AAC user’s pre-communication signals. Every AAC user’s pre-communication signals are different. It is essential for parents, teachers, SLPS, and other frequent communication partners to know the user’s signals. Common pre-communication signals are gesturing toward the device, glancing at the device, and picking the device up.

• Don’t ask a question while the AAC user is already creating a response. Give the AAC user time to respond to the first comment or question and then follow-up with your question. This is important because sometimes the AAC user does not have time to communicate their original thoughts, but they end up just responding to the question. 

•      Stop talking when the AAC user activates their utterance. No one likes to be interrupted, including AAC users.

Following the tips above will reduce the AAC user’s frustration and encourage them to communicate more often.