Modeling is also known as Aided Language Input or Aided Language Stimulation. It is a research-based strategy to help build a strong foundation for AAC use and language learning. In aided language input, when partners (parents, teachers, and therapists) talk with people who use AAC, the partners also use the same AAC system to communicate. This helps teach AAC by example in real-life interactions.
All AAC learners need to see what it looks like to communicate using their AAC systems in real conversations. The idea is to use the AAC learner's system, or another similar AAC system, when you talk with the AAC learner.
You don't need to model every single word you say, using the exact correct grammar, especially to start with. This would likely be overwhelming to all concerned. Instead, model one step above the AAC learner's current skill level. So if the AAC learner is not yet using the system to communicate in single words, model at the single word level. For example, if you're leaving the classroom to go to the cafeteria, you can verbally say "It's time to go to the cafeteria" and press the "go" button on the AAC system when you say the word "go". Once the AAC learner is at the one word level, you can step up your game add a word when you model. So if you're leaving the house to go to see grandmother, you can verbally say "Let's go see Granny" and press "go" and "Granny" while you're speaking these words.
Aided Language Stimulation explained:
Like anything, the more you model, the easier it will be. So focus on modelling those key words and don't think that you always need to model a grammatically complete sentence! Learn more about this in our Do's and Don'ts of AAC: Do focus on key words when modeling, don't think you need to always model grammatically complete sentences.
The best way that we can support our AAC user is the use the AAC system to talk yourself. If someone spoke French, you would try to speak to them in French! For children learning to use AAC, AAC is their language, so you should talk to them using AAC! Read more in our Do's and Don'ts of AAC: Do use the AAC system to talk yourself, Don't expect the AAC user to communicate without you modeling how.
- Motivate, Model and Move Out of the Way - This PowerPoint slideshow, aimed at parents and caregivers, explains why and how aided language works in the home.
- PrAACtical Resources: Video Examples of Aided Language Input - A collection of videos including therapists, educators, and families using Aided Language Input
- PrAACtical AAC: Why We Love Aided Language Input - This article links to 4 research articles demonstrating the benefits of Aided Language Input.
- Why We Do Aided Language Stimulation - And You Should Too! - This guest blog, written by Mary-Louise Bertram, clearly explains why modeling is so important for those beginning to use AAC.