YAACK: Augmentative Communication Resource Guide for Young Kids

Home Page for YaacK, A Resource Guide for AAC Connecting Young Kids



Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) Connecting Young Kids (YAACK) Home Page

What is YAACK?

Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) Connecting Young Kids (YAACK) is a website that covers issues related to AAC and young children. Its purpose is to provide information and guidance to families, teachers, speech/language pathologists and anyone else who is involved with a child with special communication needs. It is intended to be easy to understand and practical, and to cover a wide range of topics dealing with AAC and AAC-related issues of children at various ages and stages of communication ability, and with different strengths, disabilities and learning characteristics.

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YAACK is based on the premise that the purpose of AAC is to assist the child in attaining the quality of life that approaches the level of satisfaction and meaningfulness that would have been possible if the child did not have a communication disability. Therefore, the child's ability to communicate when, where and what is desired is the goal; AAC is just the means. YAACK emphasizes the individuality of each child, and stresses the fact that there is no single solution or set of procedures that will work for every child. Success depends on really getting to know and understand the child, and then developing and implementing a communication program that takes into account his or her unique characteristics.


How is YAACK organized?

YAACK is composed of three main sections. (See Table of Contents.) The first, How to get started gives background on AAC, lists specific organizations that provide support and assistance to children with AAC needs and their families, and offers suggestions on how to create and maintain an effective AAC team.

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The second section, Choosing an AAC system covers the AAC assessment, describes characteristics of and issues relating to the different AAC systems and devices that are in use today, and includes information on how to obtain a device.

The third section, Teaching offers both general tips as well as specific methods and techniques that have proven successful in teaching AAC and AAC-related skills to infants, toddlers and young children with different communication needs.

At the top of each section are links to the table of contents and to the other topics under the same subject heading. These links are arranged in hierarchical (also presentational) order, and designated by file folder icons. They appear like this. (The following are examples and not actual links.)

Table of Contents for YaacK: AAC Connecting Young Kids
Teaching
Advancing communicative competence
Conversational skills
Initiating interactions

It is, therefore, possible to navigate to earlier sections within the same subject heading. At the bottom of each page are links back to the top of the page, to Home, and to the next topic or subject.


Who am I?

My name is Ruth Ballinger, and this website constitutes my final project in fulfillment of the requirements of a Master's degree in Special Education. I am interested in communication as it pertains to children with severe disabilities for two reasons. The first is that communication is fundamental to virtually every aspect of life, from academics to independent living to personal friendships and family. Learning to communicate effectively has a dramatic impact on the life of any child with a severe disability.

Help me—and everyone who reads this site—by mailing your suggestions, criticisms and personal experiences to Ruth Ballinger at yaack@iname.com

Secondly, there are so many unknowns regarding the teaching of infants, toddlers and young children how to understand others and to express themselves. Unlike adults who suddenly find themselves unable to communicate due to accident or illness, young children often have never had the experience of communicating in an effective manner. How they experience communication, what it means to them, and the manner in which they begin to understand how it works and what it can do for them is fascinating and mysterious.

My hope is that YAACK will impart at least some understanding, assistance and support to individuals who are close to a child with special communication needs. I intend to update YAACK on an ongoing basis with information and resources gathered from a wide variety of sources, including the expertise and experience of readers of this site. I fully anticipate that YAACK will continue to grow and improve, and that, over time, many children with communication challenges, and their families, friends and teachers, will be able to benefit from its contents.

As a final note, I would like to state that I am in no way affiliated with any company or commercial product, nor do I receive any outside support. I have also avoided directly mentioning or linking to specific companies or products on this website unless there were compelling reasons to do otherwise. Instead, I have provided connections to several sites that do offer information about and links to commercial sites. (See Specific Devices and Products.)


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