AAC – A Book Review

Also known as Adventures with Plural Publishing

A while ago, I was contacted by Plural Publishing wondering if I’d be interested in expanding my “reviews” from just apps and articles to books. Always up for an adventure, I agreed. Amazingly, book reviews take much longer than article reviews and/or app reviews (although, to be fair – some of the delay was because I wasn’t sure how I wanted to set things up and there was an unfortunate delay in blogging this year due to family health issues. But we’re back on track now).

So…without further ado… My first book review!

Titleloncke book: Augmentative and Alternative Communication, Models and Applications for Educators, Speech-Language Pathologists, Psychologists, Caregivers, and Users.

Author: Filip Loncke

Publisher: Plural Publishing, © 2014. ISBN13: 978-1-59756-498-4

Bare bones information: Pages: 233; Chapters: 13

The book starts with a basic introduction of the general layout of the book. It’s fairly easy to read and seems to flow coherently.

I really like how the book flows between chapters. Many AAC books seem to be a bit choppy and abrupt. This one does not seem quite so abrupt (or I’ve gotten a lot more forgiving in my experiences). I really liked that each chapter has its own sources referenced. Now I don’t have to wonder if I have the RIGHT article.

Chapter 1: Intro to AAC. A basic explanation of what AAC is from low tech to high tech. The chapter discusses theory, assumptions, symbol choices, and access.

Chapter 2: Access and Message Management.I really like that this chapter discusses the rate of communication as well as the steps in which it happens (and how the two tie together). The chapter discusses the need for physical access as well as mental access which I don’t remember seeing explained well before. Not just the mental access of “do I want a device” but the mental access of how to access the lexicon within the device. This chapter also deals with symbols and how to choose appropriate symbols.

Chapter 3: Nontech, Low-Tech, High-Tech, and Mobile Computing. It’s kind of self-explanatory…but in this world where it seems everyone’s pat answer is an iPad and Proloquo2go, it’s refreshing to see and understand WHY we need to carefully consider all options. I really like this quote:

“In order to be able to fully appreciate, apply, and integrate (new as well as more traditional) technology into a person’s functioning, it is important to judge where in the communication process the device or the solution is to be situated: Is it essentially a word finding (and expression) device? Is it a conversation device? Does it emulate multimodal processing?”

Chapter 4: The use of symbols. This chapter talks about symbols – why, what, where, and how (essentially). My take away point? “Symbolic value rests only in the mind of the user, the picture, or manual sign has no symbolic meaning unless the user knows or recognizes the meaning.”  (uhm..yeah. It’s only a symbol when it has MEANING…without meaning it’s simply a random gesture.)

Chapter 5: Vocabulary and AAC. A short and sweet chapter. Basically, it talks about vocabulary and the limitations occasionally experienced.

Chapter 6: AAC Intervention at the Prelinguistic Level. I really liked the layout of this chapter. It discusses exactly what joint attention is, why it’s important, separates unintentional from intentional behaviors, and discusses cause-effect.

Chapter 7: Language Intervention and AAC. Basically, how to encourage language growth and why it’s important.

Chapter 8: AAC and Intervention with Acquired Communication Disorders. Pretty cut and dried. There are some great graphics for understanding how different disorders can affect speech. This chapter also lightly touches on many of these acquired disorders (e.g., ALS, Brainstem dysfunction, TBI, etc.).

Chapter 9: AAC and Literacy Development. This was an interesting bit about should we use orthographics with AAC? Do orthographics really help with literacy?

Chapter 10: AAC and Natural Speech. This was an … odd chapter. It is interesting, but one that requires a bit of reflection. It touches on signing, bilingualism, and speech generating devices.

Chapter 11: AAC and Assessment. Basically this chapter covers the WHY of doing assessment BEFORE and DURING AAC intervention. We cannot adequately provide AAC intervention before we have assessed to determine what the needs of the client are (note: not the wants of the therapist or finance officer).

Chapter 12: AAC and the Community. Pretty self explanatory. How can we help AAC be understood in the community? Do we want devices to be taken out? What are the risks of abuse?

Chapter 13: The AAC Experience. Discusses AAC use and how a non-AAC user cannot fully understand the experience. It also discusses some slight troubleshooting tips…More importantly, it focuses on some of the daily challenges (like using a phone) that many of us may not consider when it comes to AAC use.

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Take away…This book seems to be a fairly easy read. It follows a logical course and is easy to understand. I think it is a great INTRODUCTION to AAC. I don’t know that an experienced AAC user would find it all that beneficial, expect as a possible reminder…BUT, it would be a great beginning book for a Communication Disorders class (in my opinion…please remember, I’ve never taught that class, only attended one). I like the flow, I LOVE the references at the end of each chapter, and I like how each chapter is organized. Another thing I like, is that it includes the use of Sign Language as an alternative. Many books seem to forget that possibility. I do not believe this book is thorough enough to be the SOLE book in an SLPs repertoire, but I do believe it would be appropriate for someone wanting to learn more or an undergraduate class.

Disclaimer: Plural Publishing provided me with a copy of this book in order to provide the review. The comments and opinions of the book are mine alone.

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3 thoughts on “AAC – A Book Review

  1. Mary – what are your thoughts on this book as a resource for parents or other professionals? I’m wondering if this might be a useful book to add to my library to lend out/recommend as new families begin the AAC journey or when teaming with other professionals…

    • Hmm. Great question Cassandra. I feel it is written with the SLP or other professional student in mind; however, if the parents are involved and willing to learn, I’d say it’s good for that.

      It flows well, it’s easy to understand, and it explains WHY we need to consider all of these elements, which is all great information for anyone on this journey (parents, caregivers, etc.).

      I like how it’s separated enough that if it’s someone with an acquired disorder they don’t need to wade through prelinguistic concepts, and vice-versa. It would also be good for those that are looking at expanding from a non-tech device to tech.

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