The Mighty Logo

4 Misconceptions I Face as an Autistic Adult Who Uses AAC

There are a lot of misconceptions about AAC and I want to clear some of them up. But first let me explain what AAC is. AAC is Augmentative and Alternative Communication. It is primarily used for people who are non-verbal or have trouble expressing themselves. It is an app or device where you either choose pictures or type words you want to say and then the app speaks it for you.

Some misconceptions surrounding AAC include:

  1. It’s only for those who are nonverbal. I hear a lot that it’s only for those who are nonverbal or ask why I use it since I’m not completely nonverbal. Anyone who is sometimes nonverbal, has trouble expressing themselves, etc. can benefit from AAC. It’s amazing being able to have a voice when I wouldn’t have had one in that situation before I got my app.
  2. It’s only for a certain age. It may be best to start out younger, but that doesn’t always happen. I have only been using my app for a few months at the age of 22, and it has been life-changing. I am able to tell my mom more than I have before. When I was younger I didn’t have the ability to tell my mom when I was in pain because I didn’t have the ability to express it. We’re now starting to get answers to health issues I’ve had my whole life because I have a way to share my thoughts with people like doctors and my mom. Having this new voice is life-changing.
  3. It discourages you from speaking. Actually it can help people like me to be able to become more verbal over time by increasing our self-expression skills. I’m more verbal now than before I got AAC because I’ve had practice expressing myself in different ways. I still need my app, but being a tiny bit more verbal is a great thing.
  4. It’s too inconvenient. I’m not going to disagree that it can be inconvenient. But that inconvenience is worth it when I can tell my mom something to avoid a meltdown or share something with her that I wouldn’t be able to without it. Sometimes it’s difficult to take my iPad with me everywhere, but at least I’m ready in case I need it. Having AAC is inconvenient sometimes, but so worth it.

Using AAC has been life-saving to me. For so much of my life I couldn’t communicate a lot of the time. People thought that since I’m verbal I could talk and when I couldn’t, I was just shy. Using AAC, I’m finally able to say what I need to say. It helps me in so many aspects of my life; I’m able to speak in situations where I couldn’t before.

Image provided by contributor.

Originally published: March 6, 2018
Want more of The Mighty?
You can find even more stories on our Home page. There, you’ll also find thoughts and questions by our community.
Take Me Home