How can children who use AAC participate in storybook reading?

Child with disabilities listening to a bookWe’ve described the rich interactions that take place when children who are typically developing participate in storybook reading activities.

But what happens in storybook reading activities with children who have difficulty with speech? What happens with children who are not able to rely on their speech to communicate because of a disability such as autism spectrum disorder, cerebral palsy, or Down syndrome? Many of these children require augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) to support their communication including signs, gestures, picture communication boards, speech generating devices, or mobile technology with AAC apps.

How do we provide these children with the same opportunities to

  • Choose a favorite book
  • Learn new vocabulary
  • Talk about the story
  • Ask questions
  • Answer questions
  • Retell the story in their own words

We want children with complex communication needs to have opportunities to enjoy participating in story reading activities, and to develop their language, communication, and emergent literacy skills just like their peers.


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