If better communication skills are on your list of New Year’s resolutions for your adult clients with speech and language disorders, begin by carefully considering some short-term goals needed to achieve “communication competence.”
The goal of communication—whether via AAC, verbal, written, hand-drawn or gestured modalities—is to connect with others.
To meet the goal of communication competence while using an AAC device, there are typically four areas of skills to address: operational, linguistic, social, and strategic competencies. The goals that you set surrounding these competencies should be targeted in concert and should be SMART: Specific (and personal to the client), Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely.
First, let’s take a look at the communication competencies and what relates to each as they pertain to AAC devices.
- Powering the device on/off
- Adjusting the volume
- Accessing the information on the screen; visual field scanning, direct selection, etc.
- Developing proficiency in using the system efficiently
- Understanding and using the language of the device, whether it contains symbolic or concrete icons, and/or written words
- Using the device for a variety of communication functions: greeting, requesting, commenting, disagreeing, protesting, sharing information, reciting stories/songs/prayers, etc.
- Using vernacular that is commonly expressed at home, with family, with friends, and at school/work
- Combining words into phrases/sentences
- Engaging in discourse: greeting, replying, turn-taking, introducing and maintaining a topic, changing a topic, ending a conversation, etc.
- Connecting thru expression of wants and needs, information, questions, comments, protests, feelings, etc.
- Repairing communication breakdown
- Using the most effective communication method and vocabulary for the context of the situation
- Using compensatory strategies within the AAC system for effective communication
Now, let’s review some examples of AAC-related goals for developing each communication competency in order to have an effective connection.
- Patient will increase communication effectiveness by adjusting the volume of the AAC device so that it is audible to the listener in quiet or in a noisier situation, independently, in 80% of opportunities.
- Patient will increase communication effectiveness by selecting an icon from a category page to respond to a multiple-choice question, independently, with 90% accuracy.
- Patient will reduce medical risks by communicating medical information and physical symptoms with 80% accuracy.
- Patient will reduce safety risks by requesting help to meet personal needs in 4 out of 5 opportunities.
- Patient will participate in a conversation regarding a thematic activity/hobby, using a word or pre-programmed phrase with 80% accuracy.
- Patient will reduce social isolation risks by using common social messages for greeting, introduction, and turn-taking in 4 out of 5 opportunities.
- Patient will use the AAC device to engage in conversation via phone, with a friend/family member three times in one week.
- Patient will use the AAC device to comment, ask questions, or provide opinions on a topic in 4 out of 5 opportunities.
- Patient will increase communication effectiveness by clarifying information with 80% accuracy.
- Patient will use text-to-speech, white board, or direct icon selection to relay information or respond to a question with 80% accuracy.
If you have any questions or would like more information about developing AAC goals from communication competencies, a Lingraphica SLP Clinical Consultant is readily available to assist with writing ‘SMART’ AAC goals for your clients who could benefit from trialing a Lingraphica AAC device. Click here to begin a new device trial.
**Information for the blog post adapted from "Setting Goals for AAC," Independent Living Centre WA