Yay, your kiddo has their new speech generating (SGD) augmentative alternative
communication (AAC) device! This can be an exciting and overwhelming milestone all in one. Have you ever gotten a new gadget and been super excited, you wanted to learn all about it and learn all the bells and whistles? Well, this is exactly how your kiddo might be feeling about their new device! They need time to explore all the features, all the buttons and words and all the pictures on their new device. This may look like they aren’t using it functionally or they might be stimming on words/pictures but they really are just exploring. This is a necessary part of learning
their new AAC device in order for them to learn their new communication system. Just like when we learn language for the first time, we explore new words and phrases through babbling and changing word combinations. What does that word mean? How do we make that word? Kiddos need to learn the process of finding the buttons/words, where they are stored and what those particular words mean.
Few things to keep in mind...
As your child explores their new device, it is important to let them have access to their device throughout the day, in different environments and at all times. We have access to our words at all times and this should be the same for your child and their device. When they are in the beginning stages of learning their device, it may feel disruptive or loud or non functional. However, remember that this is new and very exciting for them. Just like when a child learns to talk for the first time, they may talk excessively to themselves or to others. We would never silence a vocal child so we should never silence a child who uses a device either.
Pay attention to buttons/words they activate frequently. Which page/topic do they spend a lot of their time on? Do they have a pattern for which buttons/words they push? Which button/word do they end on? When do they use their device the most? Are they engaging with others and who while they use their device? All these observations can help you better understand how your child is learning and using their device throughout the day.
It is important that you, as their caregiver, are familiar with the device as well. When your child is not engaging with the device, maybe they are asleep, take some time to explore the different pages, words and features on the device. You are going to be a very integral part in helping your child use their new communication system efficiently and effectively.
Take note of which buttons/words are not pertinent for your child to have on their device or which buttons/words and a must have. This is important to ensure the device is personalized to your child and their individual communication needs.
As always, your speech-language pathologist will help guide you through this new and exciting time. So keep them in the loop with all your questions, concerns and exciting new things about your child and their new device!
Zangari, C. (2015, January 30). Stimming or learning? considerations for kids who repeat themselves with AAC. PrAACtical AAC. Retrieved March 17, 2022, from
Maxwell, F. (2018, May). Resources. Tip of the Month – May 2018: Stimming and AAC. Retrieved March 17, 2022, from