How Can I Use AAC in My Classroom?

Level 1: Expressive Language

Nobody would argue that having a system for our students to communicate is a bad thing. In the start of the school year, we hold that blessed AAC device firmly in two hands and fantasize about all of the amazing ways you will utilize this resource throughout the year. And then life gets in the way. All of sudden it’s January and you are knee deep in IEPs, staff meetings, parent phone calls, and emergency bathroom situations. That poor AAC device has a thin layer of dust on it. I get it. Incorporating an AAC device into your day can be tricky – especially for learners who are new to using it. It’s all on you.

Make using the AAC Device part of your daily routine.

Hands down that is the easiest and most realistic way of getting your student to use his AAC device. If it’s part of your routine – you won’t have to think about it. It will be second nature and something you do automatically. And during a hectic day where you can’t even remember your own name – you will need that.

Ways to Incorporate AAC Devices into your Routine:

  • Morning or Circle Time: Morning routines typically involve class greetings, calendar work, and some basic academics. This is the perfect time to work some communication in. Have your student say the date each day using his device. Ask him how the weather is and have him answer with the device. Anything you have your other answer verbally – have your student participate with the device. This is an easy and low maintenance way to ensure that your student has consistent practice.IMG_9350
  • Snack Time and Lunch Time: What is more motivating than food? Heck, if I know there is a big bowl of froyo waiting for me on – I will do pretty much anything. When motivation is high – it’s the perfect time to utilize communication systems. Your kids will want to use it. Also – it’s super functional. They can now take their device into the community or their home and request what they want. Unknown Screen-Shot-2014-06-16-at-3.47.49-PM
  • Play Time: Fun and engaging activities and cause/effect toys are perfect for getting your leaner to begin communication. If something is super awesome – they will want “more.” Even have a simple switch or button to say “go” or “more” is perfect for your students who are brand new to their communication system. They will want to see that car zoom around again or another groupof bubbles blown in their face



  • Direct Instruction/Academic Tasks: This is the time of day when you are focused on this child. You are ready to work on their specific IEP goals and your attention is all on them. Capitalize on this and squeeze that AAC device in there! Have the comment on what they are doing, request colors, categorize, answer questions, etc. all using their device. IMG_4126
    IMG_3700-764x1024  Farmer-Whos-in-the-tractor-AAC-2


Start small. Pick one of these areas to focus on. Once it gets easy and a regular part of your day – add in another center or activity. You don’t have to be perfect at it day 1 or even month 1. It will get there. The little steps will help make it easier on you and your students!



This post is part of the Cooking Up Communication Summer Series!

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The Autism Helper


  1. I love your ideas! Question, what product are you using on the last picture? (the one with the tractor)


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