AAC Awareness Month October 2022: Promoting Friendships in AAC Intervention


Today, I share a presentation I made for AAC Awareness Month at the Centre for AAC in South Africa. I discuss ways in which we can deepen our understanding of different types of friendships. As a result, we can promote friendships in AAC intervention as an integrated part of daily activities.

A Challenge in AAC intervention

One of the biggest challenges that AAC interventionists face today relates to the sustainability of our efforts. We work to teach children to recognize and use symbols on communication boards or high-tech devices. However, we often must acknowledge that these interactions remain superficial. Consequently, interactions become routinized and stilted as students practice what they have learned. Because these messages do not really reflect how students feel, these interactions can become stumbling blocks in AAC users’ attempts to make friends.

How Do Friendships Develop?

Friendships develop through the experience of being with others. It is not just about understanding what the other is saying. Friendship requires emotional resonance with another. This ability to feel connected to another provides the basis for the development of affinity between two people. Ultimately, therefore, it is the experience of being with another that enhances the development of friendships.

Presentation on Promoting Friendships in AAC Intervention

The presentation below discusses the concept of friendship and outlines different types/levels of friendship linked to the process of meaning-making in interactions. Self–other awareness, empathetic listening, and social skills training as well as their pitfalls are discussed as a backdrop to promoting social closeness between children.

Final Take-home Message…

We need to dedicate time and energy to enhance friendship development between users of AAC and their peers. Making sure children have friends is an important investment in their academic and socio-emotional well-being.

Any comments or questions? Please let me know.

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