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Communication Continued...Comparing AAC Devices
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AAC Device Environmental Comparison - Where can I use it?
The first chart compares the environmental appropriateness of the AAC devices we have discussed thus far.  As you can see from the chart, no single system can be used everywhere, and since you won't want to miss any spontaneous opportunity for communication, it is important to keep environmentally appropriate systems available.
Functionality - What are it's features?  What will it do?
The second chart compares different AAC device functionality.  Notice how varied the two charts are.  You can see from this comparison, that depending on the function , different AAC devices may be required to support communication for that situation. 
AAC Device Longevity - Usable Life Expectancy - Planned obsolescence
I have prepared this information with a focus on supporting students communication and teaching language, with the ultimate goal being primary verbal and written communication - all of the standard forms. But to ultimately not need AAC, therefore planning AAC obsolescence.  

However, should this not be the case, increased complexity and sophistication are likely to be a requirement as the child matures and advances.  Keeping this in mind, the only system that will become obsolete early on would be the PECS system.  Each of the other systems can be customized and programmed to fit the growing needs of the child.  For continuous communication support, the child will ultimately migrate toward preferred methods.
Important Note to Parents, Teachers and Support People:
Do Not take it upon yourself to discard or put away previously used communication aides and systems, even if you think the child has advanced beyond their use.  The communication systems should be considered the sole property of the child, and their use or nonuse, storage and placement should be at the direction of the child.  I made the mistake of doing this until I heard the opinion of a person who relied on AAC completely.  She complained adamantly and described how disconcerting and unsettling it was to be forced to adapt to new methods of communication because someone else thought it was superior to what she had been using.  I immediately retrieved  and returned every bit of communication material we had to my son, whose reaction showed me how important it all was to him.  Shame on me.