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After a brain injury, some children may have significant problems with speech or language. These children may need extra help to communicate better and more effectively. A speech pathologist may be able to recommend a communication device to help with communication.
Augmentative communication means to add to or supplement a child's current ways of communicating. A child's communications include any type of speech, gestures, and/or writing abilities they may already have. There are several types of augmentative communication devices, ranging from very simple signs or gestures to high-tech electronic systems.
Some examples of augmentative communications systems are:
Different types of systems may be useful for your child, depending on the nature and severity of their communication problems. Communication problems often change from the early stages of recovery through to the final stages of recovery. Therefore, the type of communication system needed by your child may change.
Selecting the best communication system for a child involves a very thorough evaluation and assessment. The assessment is usually done by a speech pathologist. Sometimes other health professionals, including an occupational therapist, communication technologist or even an engineer, are also involved.
Several factors may influence the type of system chosen:
If a long term or high technology device is needed, your child may be referred to a specialist outside agency. This assessment may involve a team of professionals and may be done at the rehab centre, at home or at school. Specialist services generally provide assessment and trials of different symbol or electronic devices. They will then recommend the most suitable system for your child. These services do not provide ongoing therapy or follow up. There may also be a fee for these assessment/s.
All children and their families, teachers and/or carers will need some training. This ongoing training and therapy is usually provided by your local speech pathologist.
Developed by the RCH Paediatric Rehabilitation Service. Based on the Communication Aids fact sheet produced by the Brain Injury Service, the Children's Hospital at Westmead. First published November 2006. Updated September 2012.