Let’s Talk AAC Blog: Stories and Strategies for Success

PRC consultants and other AAC Professionals share stories of strategies and success.

Summertime....A Time for Fun

Posted May 6, 2015 in Stories and Strategies for Success

By Tracy Custer, M.Ed, SLP, Regional Consultant, PRC

Tracy Custer

The school year is quickly winding down and the summer months are soon here. One thing I know for sure is that the summer gives us the ability to rest, relax and engage in some of those activities that we never have time for during the school year. It also is the time for us to involve ourselves with things that we really enjoy.

camp sign

Some of my favorite experiences in life happened at summer camps. As a child I went to church camp, Girl Scout camp, and some sports camps. All of them allowed for lots of fun, but also allowed me to make lifelong friendships. Attending camps during the summer is also a wonderful experience for individuals using augmentative and alternative communication. (AAC) Building new friendships, going swimming, canoeing, attending the camp dance and participating in the activities around the camp fire all are great places for lots of communication to occur.

It provides individuals the ability to use their devices in fun and motivating activities. It is an environment where children and adults using AAC can come together with other peers and really see the benefits of communicating with a device. It is also a wonderful place for professionals to network and see the real possibilities of using core language in many different environments. There is nothing like practicing the vocabulary that has been worked on during the school year in a relaxed and fun setting. Using core vocabulary that will generalize to lots of activities is always both the preference and the goal. That certainly will eliminate programming lots of “camp” vocabulary that will never be used again. Words like “I, like, this, let, me, do, it, more, good, fun, yuck, hot, cold, you, help, fun, look” are all excellent words to practice in different activities throughout various camp activities. Currently PRC is putting a list together of various camps around the United States.

Please help us compile a list by adding your favorite AAC camp.

Also there is a nice list on Pinterest that has been started so I would encourage you to go and search out a place that can make for a memorable summer.


Not all individuals using AAC will have the opportunity to go to camp, but most of them will get to attend some kind of summer experience even if it is within the boundaries of the school district. These opportunities are to help prevent any regression and continue to build those emergent skills. Even though “summer school” may not offer that exact camp experience, I would encourage you to plan activities that will really allow your students to have fun by building their confidence, independence and most of all practicing the core vocabulary that will build language for a lifetime.

Just a few reminders when teaching core vocabulary:

  • Make learning fun!!! Teaching new words must be done in a motivating activity that allows for natural consequences to occur. The “drill and kill” of learning vocabulary never works.
  • Always set up opportunites that will allow a core word to be used- do your best to stay away from having the response be “yes” and “no” or a noun.
  • Always model the word and then generalize the word into multiple environments.
  • Accept mis-hits- this is the best way to learn new vocabulary; “Any word works” so just have fun with it and respond to what is said
  • Remember it is not about mastery- it is about learning a word and getting to practice it many times until it becomes part of their repetoire
  • Remember we all learn language by learning words first. Once we have lots of single words we will naturally start to put those words together. We must remember we don’t create sentences until we have lots of words in our vocabulary.
  • Most of all make communication fun and memorable this summer!!


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