Augmentative and Alternative Communication Program

The Augmentative Communication Program at Stanford Medicine Children’s Health provides comprehensive AAC evaluations and short-term treatment for children and young adults who have conditions that make it difficult to use spoken language.

If your child has difficulty with communication, he or she can use augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) to express himself or herself more easily and to support language development. There are many forms of AAC. Some AAC users express themselves through body-based forms of communication, such as gestures or body movements. Other forms of AAC include pictures, low-tech communication books, apps, and high-tech speech-generating devices. Most AAC users rely on different communication strategies at different times.

Our goals:

  • Providing individualized assessments for patients with complex communication needs to identify appropriate communication tools and strategies.
  • Improving language development for children with receptive-expressive language delays by providing early access to AAC support.
  • Providing your child and family with opportunities to explore a range of AAC supports and technology, allowing you to make informed decisions before purchasing or requesting funding for equipment.
  • Training your family to support AAC use at home.
  • Providing documentation needed for funding AAC equipment.
  • Developing a plan and home program to help your child build communication skills.

Does my child need an AAC evaluation?

An AAC evaluation may be needed if your child has a severe communication disorder, is nonverbal, or has a progressive condition that affects speech. We serve children and young adults with a range of conditions that include:

What to expect

Please arrive 15 minutes early for your AAC evaluation to allow time to check in at the reception desk. AAC evaluations last between one and two hours, and they typically involve trials with different types of AAC strategies or devices. Your child’s speech-language pathologist guides the evaluation and may ask questions about your child’s vision, hearing, mobility, language, attention, and memory skills.

In some cases, an occupational therapist will also be present during the evaluation to evaluate your child’s mobility, positioning needs, and physical access to the AAC system. Your child’s occupational therapist will ask questions about your child’s positioning during the day and existing medical equipment. It is helpful if you can provide the make and model of any mobility equipment, such as wheelchairs or activity chairs, that your child uses. 

At the end of the evaluation, your child’s therapist(s) will provide initial recommendations for communication strategies or devices to use with your child. If a speech-generating device is being recommended, it is common that the speech-language pathologist will recommend trying out the device at home for four weeks before seeking funding for the device. The speech-language pathologist can provide you with information about borrowing a speech-generating device through a vendor and will assist you with seeking funding for a speech-generating device if needed.

If possible, please bring the following to your AAC evaluation appointment:

  • A copy of the most recent Individualized Education Program.
  • Any outside vision or hearing assessments.
  • Copies of any prior AAC evaluations.
  • Your child’s current AAC system (if any).
  • Your child’s glasses or hearing aids (if any).
  • Any adaptive equipment your child uses for mobility (e.g., a wheelchair).

Referral process

If you are interested in having an AAC evaluation at Stanford Children’s Health, please have your child’s physician write a referral to Speech-Language Pathology for the following CPT codes:

  • 92605, Evaluation for prescription of non-speech-generating augmentative and alternative communication device.
  • 92607, Evaluation for prescription for speech-generating augmentative and alternative communication device, face-to-face with the patient; first hour.
  • 92608, Evaluation for prescription for speech-generating augmentative and alternative communication device, face-to-face with the patient; each additional 30 minutes (list separately in addition to code for primary procedure).
  • 92523 Evaluation of speech sound production (e.g., articulation, phonological process, apraxia, dysarthria); with evaluation of language comprehension and expression (e.g., receptive and expressive language).

If your child uses a wheelchair or is unable to use his or her hands to point, an occupational therapy (OT) referral may also be needed. If requesting an OT evaluation, the referral should state, “OT referral to evaluate positioning, mounting and access needs for use of an AAC system. Schedule with SLP for AAC evaluation.”

Your child’s primary care provider can fax the referral to (650) 736-3406.

AAC resources