What is AAC?

Augmentative and alternative communication is essentially the use of non-speech forms of communication to either supplement or replace  spoken communication.  It includes the use of high-tech tools (e.g., iPads with communication software on it, dedicated devices), low-tech tools (e.g., a picture book, topic displays, visual schedules, first/then displays) and no-tech solutions (e.g., manual signs).  While there are a range of tools, a skilled and knowledgeable SLP should complete a feature matching assessment to ensure that the tool(s) selected are appropriate for each individual learner. 

Will my child stop speaking if he/she uses AAC?

That is a very common concern; however, both anecdotal evidence – and far more importantly – scientific research has illustrated the opposite effect: AAC often helps improve spoken language abilities! AAC helps build the language foundations that often help bolster spoken language abilities.

Telehealth!? I still haven’t recovered from 2020 – why are you only offering telehealth!? 

Look – when the pandemic started and my practice was brand new, I didn’t even try to make telehealth work! I put my practce on hold and figured, this is not the right population for telehealth – I’ll ride this wave and wait for in-person to resume. Six months later, when I still wasn’t ready for in-person, I started telehealth.  Not only was I amazed at how effective it was, but my families were, too! Much like how not all speech pathologists are the same, not everyone does telehealth the same.  I do it well.  Very well.  I have made tons of customized, highly engaging activities for my kiddos to keep them engaged while learning.  I also have saved families from having to schlep to an office, in afterschool/rushhour traffic. I have found that generalization of skills has also increased as I’m supporting families and teams in the home, as well.  Finally, for all of the families for whom I’m providing primarily training and programming services, I’ve saved the hours of their lives, as well. I went from being a huge naysayer to an officeless fervent believer.  If you don’t like traffic/commuting and/or bringing your child to novel environments, but you do want to help your child, let’s put 2020 behind us and give it another shot!

My child was just diagnosed with autism. Should I go buy my child an iPad with the communication application I just heard about?

No!   Just like not all phones or computers are right for every single person, all communication applications are not right for every person either.  Further, it may be the case that a dynamic display device (e.g., an iPad, a dedicated device) may not even be appropriate for your child.  It is important to have a knowledgeable SLP determine suitable options using a feature matching process to identify an AAC system to best support your child’s individual needs.  

Do you work with dedicated devices?

We are trained in a wide variety of dedicated and integrated devices.  Our AAC evaluations, however, will focus on commercially available products because, unless you have Mass Health, dedicated devices would cost you more than  commercially available products, in addition to months of delay and a big headache.  Additionally, where the majority of patients seen here do not have physical challenges accessing the device, the dedicated devices that have robust alternative access features are often not required.

Do you accept insurance?

YES! Abramson AAC now accepts Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS)!  While additional insurances are not accepted, a Superbill may be provided upon request.  You can use that Superbill to request out-of-network reimbursement from your insurance provider.

Why should we come to see you when we can just go through insurance to get a device funded?

It’s not quite that easy! Most centers accepting insurance have a 6-8 month wait list.  Then, if a “dedicated device” (i.e., one funded by insurance) is determined to be appropriate, you have a ~6-9 week window of filling out paperwork and waiting before a trial starts.  Then the trial starts and if a device is determined to be appropriate, a report must be written and submitted to insurance, etc.  If you do not have Mass Health as a secondary, you would be responsible for paying 20% of the cost anyway – which often runs around $1,000.  So rather than waiting nearly a year to get started, I can get you up and running in no time! 

We live out of state.  Can you help?

Possibly! While geography should never be a barrier to communication, SLPs must be licensed in both the state where they are and the one in which in which their client is.  Please reach out regarding your out of state needs.

I want more…what should I do?

Let us know what else you would like to see offered! Break-and-take workshops, on-site lectures or in-services, parent trainings, assistance setting up a home or school in the Boston area or far beyond… just ask!