AAC Dilemma: 6 Steps to Enhance Speech in Toddlers with Developmental Delays

Does use of AAC hinder speech and language development in toddlers?

AAC Dilemma: 6 Steps to Enhance Speech in Toddlers with Developmental Delays

Step 1: Understand the Debate: AAC vs Traditional Speech Intervention

First, it's important to know the dilemma we're addressing here. The study was conducted to ascertain whether Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) intervention, specifically using speech-generating devices (SGDs), delays or impairs speech development in comparison to traditional spoken language intervention.

Step 2: The Power of AAC

Let's address the big reveal upfront: AAC intervention doesn't hinder speech development. In fact, the study found that it resulted in significantly more spoken target vocabulary words than traditional intervention. That's right, folks. AAC isn't an enemy but a potential ally in our quest to enhance speech outcomes!

Step 3: Predicting Spoken Vocabulary

The study also found that baseline receptive and expressive language skills could significantly predict the number of spoken target vocabulary words produced post-intervention. We, as therapists, can use these baseline factors as our guiding light, helping us with intervention planning and outcome prediction.

Step 4: Embrace Speech Sound Errors

An interesting finding was that as the number of words produced increased, so did the number of speech sound errors. This does not necessarily indicate a negative outcome but could be part of the developmental process. As speech therapists and educators, it's vital to remember that progress isn't always linear.

Step 5: Boosting Vocabulary

The findings support the idea that AAC interventions using SGDs can help increase overall vocabulary size in children experiencing severe developmental delays. This means we could potentially have a powerful tool to help our little ones express themselves better.

Step 6: Parents as Partners

One of the greatest takeaways from the study was the key role parents can play as implementers of language interventions. This is a great reminder for us to involve and empower parents, providing them with the tools and understanding to use AAC techniques at home.


The findings of this study have great potential to revolutionize our approaches towards language intervention in children with developmental delays. Not only can we more confidently dispel the myth that AAC may hinder speech development, but we also have a clear indication that involving parents in our intervention strategies can be beneficial.

So, let's keep pushing the boundaries, breaking the myths, and finding new ways to enhance the communication skills of our young ones. After all, their voices are the future!

Thank you for joining us on this exploration. Stay tuned for more exciting insights and remember, each small step we take can make a world of difference for our little ones. Until next time, happy speech and language adventuring!


Walters, C., Sevcik, R. A., & Romski, M. A. (2021). Spoken Vocabulary Outcomes of Toddlers With Developmental Delay After Parent-Implemented Augmented Language Intervention. American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, 30, 1023–1037. https://doi.org/10.1044/2020_AJSLP-20-00093