Skip links

FIREFLY Augmentative and Alternative Communication Clinic

Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) is a set of tools and strategies that supplement or replace a child/youth’s spoken and written communication in everyday life. The AAC Clinic works to identify, recommend, and assist in securing funding for tools that support and/or supplement communication for children/youth who might be:

  • Nonspeaking
  • Have limited spoken communication
  • Have severe speech errors, making it difficult for others to understand them
  • Physically unable to produce written communication that is functional for their day-to-day needs and desires

The AAC Clinic provides training to children/youth, their caregivers, families, educators, and communication partners to assist in implementation and ensure optimal use of the recommended system.

What to expect:

Depending on your child’s needs, a Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP) and/or Occupational Therapist (OT) will meet you and your child to explore communication aid needs and options. Your child will complete an assessment with the SLP/OT to determine the equipment that will best meet those needs. Once the equipment is received, the SLP/OT will ensure it is properly programmed and will provide training on how to use the equipment to all necessary communication partners. The Clinic will also assist in securing funding to purchase any recommended equipment.

NOTE: Initial follow-up visits will occur through the Clinic and then will transition to the community SLP and/or OT.

What Services Does the Clinic Offer?

  • Assessment and communication aid recommendation based on your child’s communication needs
  • Reassessment of current communication aids based on a significant change in communication needs or natural deterioration of equipment
  • Securing funding for equipment through the Assistive Devices Program (ADP) and other public funding sources, where applicable. (Note: Clinic ADP authorization is in progress and may not be yet available).
  • Equipment programming
  • Training for communication partners and clients

NOTE: Ongoing implementation and monitoring of the client’s communication needs will be provided by the community SLP and/or OT.

How to make a referral: Referrals can be made through FIREFLY Centralized Intake.   

Eligibility criteria for the program:

  • Child/youth and/or guardian is interested in discussing Augmentative and Alternative communication options

AND one of the following three options:

  • Child/youth is three years or older and is non-speaking/non-verbal or has extremely limited verbal output
  • Child/youth is 4 years or older and is very difficult to understand (only an SLP can make a referral to the SLP clinic based on this concern)
  • Child/youth has difficulty using a regular computer system for written communication due to physical difficulties and would benefit from an alternative written output system

The Clinic is available to children birth to 18 years of age (or 21 years if still attending school) who live in Northwestern Ontario.

All referrals to the Clinic are reviewed by the Clinic team to determine appropriateness.  Clients not accepted will be provided with more suitable service options.

Travel may be required.

Links and Resources

Thames Valley Children’s Centre – e-Learning Modules

FIREFLY Resources – see “Modelling with Core Words Activities”

Presentation: ‘Using AAC at Home and in the Classroom: Ideas for Making it Fun!’ from the FIREFLY Virtual Conference – Watch here