The best way to teach and interact with an individual to communicate using Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) is to show them how to do it through modelling and mapping meaning onto their actions and behaviours.
Modelling is when you point to the words on the AAC system as you speak. This is an awesome way to show AAC users what it looks like to communicate with their AAC system in real life interactions. At first modelling can feel tricky to learn but just like a new keyboard, with practice it becomes easier and more natural. Frequent and accurate modelling increases the chances that the AAC user will learn to use their AAC system to express themselves.
Mapping meaning is also important when interacting with AAC users. This means we should consider every action, behaviour, gesture, word, or vocalisation as a form of communication. By doing this, we can start to add or ‘map’ meaning onto what they may be trying to say, even if we are unsure or do not understand how it is relevant to the interaction.
You can see in this short video how the communication partner is modelling words as she is talking. She is also trying to ‘map’ meaning onto the person’s behaviours and actions. For example, when she throws the blocks, when she walks away from the table, and when she uses words but is difficult to understand.