Modelling without Expectation is one key strategy when your child is using Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC).

Modelling without Expectation

Modelling without Expectation is one key strategy when your child is using Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC).

Before we dig into modelling without expectation, it’s important to understand that it may take some time for your child to use their AAC system. This is perfectly alright because, let’s remember… a child using spoken language needs spoken language input, and how long does it take before we expect a child using spoken language to speak? Approximately one year, and that’s with constant spoken language models.

Therefore, a child using aided language will likely need some time with aided language models before they start using it independently. If we can consistently model aided language without expectation authentically, this will support aided language development.

It may be difficult at first to ensure AAC is being used in various naturalistic settings; however, as AAC is integrated more and is viewed as your child’s voice, it will become easier and easier to use naturally.

Now, back to modelling without expectation, why is it important?

It allows us to model aided language input in a way that:

  • Respects the autonomy of your child.
  • Is meaningful to your child.
  • And is natural and unforced.

How do you model without expectation?

  • Bring your child’s device to their level;
  • Model vocabulary related to what is happening at an appropriate level for your child (e.g., word or phrase). This can be done by pointing to the words if on a low-tech device or touching the vocabulary icons if on a high-tech device and explaining how you are accessing this.
  • Do not expect a particular response from your child.
  • Focus on statements about what is happening in their day-to-day life rather than asking questions.
*We’d also like to note that although your child may not be showing eye contact or appear to be directly watching you model on their AAC, they are still listening to what you have to say. For example, your child may be showing autistic joint attention. Based on research, many autistic individuals find it difficult to focus on simultaneous spoken language and other visual input.


  • Porter, G. (2004) Young children developing language using AAC. AGOSCI National Tour, Australia
  • From AAC Coach Presentation in Learn Play Thrive
  • Meaningful Speech Instagram Post- Attention and AAC
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