Aided Modelling for AAC

  • 7 September 2018
  • Beth Laurenson

Aided Modelling for children who use Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC)

Aided modelling is an essential part of teaching a child to communicate using AAC systems. Aided modelling is when we as adults model talking to our child during everyday activities and routines, using the child’s device. When practicing aided modelling, we still talk verbally to the child, but combine our speech with their aided language. This might mean pointing to pictures or signing as you talk.

Check out a simple summary video here!

Why is this so important? 

We can’t expect a child to communicate using picture symbols or signs if we do not feed in language in the same format. This is like speaking to a child in French, and expecting them to reply in English! Much research has indicated that this strategy is effective in increasing children’s vocabulary, grammar, and sentence length (Binger, Maguire-Marshall, & Kent-Walsh, 2011; Binger, & Light 2007; Dada, & Alant 2009). 

How do I do it?

The strategy is simple on paper – when you talk to your child, use their communication device (or signs), along with your speech. However, it is easy to take a look at your child’s communication device or set of signs to learn and feel overwhelmed. There are so many symbols, where do I start?! It is easiest to set small goals first and work your way up. You might like to start by modelling single symbols while you talk (rather than the whole sentence), or focus on modelling only a few core words a week as you get a feel for the device/signs. Your Speech-Language Therapist can support you with this. Over time you will build more confidence as you become more familiar with your child’s device. 


Binger, C., Maguire-Marshall, M., & Kent-Walsh, J. (2011). Using aided AAC models, recasts, and contrastive targets to teach grammatical morphemes to children who use AAC. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 54(1), 160-176.
Binger, C., & Light, J. (2007). The effect of aided AAC modeling on the expression of multi-symbol messages by preschoolers who use AAC. Augmentative and Alternative Communication, 23(1), 30-43.
Dada, S., & Alant, E. (2009). The effect of aided language stimulation on vocabulary acquisition in children with little or no functional speech. American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, 18(1), 50-64.


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