It seems just plain wrong to wish for the death
of something, but here goes. We’re ready for the quick demise of some damaging AAC
myths. Mythology is defined, in part, as ‘an unproved or false collective
belief.’ Myths can make for great for entertainment but using them to guide
therapeutic practices? Not so much.
And so with the end of this year looming, we
wish for an end to the myth
that AAC impedes speech and language development.
Lloyd, a vocal advocate and guiding force in the early days of the AAC
field, was probably the first to delineate some of these myths. He has been
teaching and writing about these myths since the 1980’s. Other AAC leaders,
such as Sarah Blackstone,
have been calling for us to dispel these
myths since the 1990’s. Pat
Dowden’s fine AAC website refuted these
myths in the early 2000’s, yet these misperceptions prevail. Perhaps not so
widely, but there remains an undercurrent preventing many people with severe
speech and language difficulties from getting access to AAC tools and intervention.
Let 2012 be the year that we shout it from the
rooftops: AAC does not inhibit speech and language development.
We have the evidence, thanks to the tireless
efforts of many researchers. Since a hallmark
study in 2006, a number of meta-analyses
have been conducted to look at the relationship between AAC and speech-language
skills, and none have found evidence that AAC has a negative effect. The most
recent one that we’re aware of, due out in 2012, looked specifically at
aided AAC (SGDs, picture communication, PECS) in individuals with ASD. It found
that AAC has a positive impact on speech and language skills, social
interaction, and spelling abilities. Furthermore, it confirms earlier research
that AAC is associated with reductions in challenging behavior.
What we know from our clinical and educational
practice is being increasingly validated through empirical study. There are many
arrows in our quivers. Let’s use them to bust these myths, once and for all.