Question: My son is 4.5 years old and nonverbal. We have purchased an iPad mini for him but his “team” is having trouble getting on the same page regarding what to use. The SLP suggested to do CORE32 words on laminated paper. The county AAC “expert” says a GoTalk 32 stand alone device is best. His BCBA believes he will be more successful with an app based AAC and favors Touch Chat. Other parents I have talked with highly recommend Proloquo2Go. After months of back and forth I think I ready to take the reins and make the final decision. Here’s what I am thinking- Proloquo2Go at home and at ABA. CORE32 and GoTalk 32 at school with his SLP. What I am wondering is will the two different systems make it more difficult for him? Am I making this too complicated?

AAoM Response provided by Monica Puente Tabilia, M.A., CCC-SLP, Speech-Language Pathologist and Assistive Technology Consultant for AAoM

Thank you for your question regarding your son and an Augmentative Alternative Communication (AAC) device for him. This choice is an important one, and a highly personal one. The first thing I would recommend, is to have a complete, individual assessment for the appropriate AAC device or system for your son. A thorough assessment by a certified Speech Language Pathologist who specializes in AAC will assess the following areas, which will lead to a recommendation appropriate for your son’s individual abilities and needs:

  1. Hearing and Vision
  2. Motor Abilities
  3. Cognitive and Academic Skills
  4. Speech and Language Skills
  5. Oropharyngeal Structures and Functions for Speech Production
  6. Features Matching Assessment
  7. Environmental Considerations and Caregiver Values

Based on the analysis of the above, a speech generating device or AAC system recommendation will be made, and recommendations for implementing the device/system across all environments will be created.  It is important that the device/system and implementation are consistent across environments.   It is not appropriate to force the child to change their mode of communication each time they transition throughout their day, and doing so would likely cause a great deal of frustration and/or confusion for the child.  

Thank you for your thoughtful question!


Who evaluates individuals for AAC devices/systems?
A Speech Language Pathologist who has experience in assessment of AAC systems is the most qualified professional to assess an individual with complex communication needs for an AAC device or system.  

What is the best AAC device?
There is not one system or device that fits all individuals or one particular “group” of individuals.  People with complex communication needs should always be evaluated one-on-one and have individualized recommendations.  

How do I know what AAC device to choose?
If you have not already done so, request an AAC assessment either through a qualified individual at the school, or privately through a hospital system or private practice.  The evaluating clinician should be able to provide detailed information about the above assessment areas and their rationale for the recommendations both verbally and in a written report for your review.  Given this information, make the best decision you can for you child and make sure all professionals across his environments honor and support the implementation of the chosen device/system.  It may be helpful to have inter-disciplinary meetings or trainings in order for staff and professionals to implement your child’s device/system in the most effective manner.  

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