Empowering non-speaking children: the power of AAC Core Boards


Communication is the essence of human interaction, allowing us to express thoughts, feelings, wants and needs. For non-speaking children and their families finding an avenue to communicate effectively can be a really challenging journey.

Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) offers a solution: with AAC Core Boards as a powerful ally and tool to empower and express more than requests: ideas, comments, surprise and delight, as well as saying no to something! Very important!

“AAC is a set of tools and strategies that an individual uses to solve every day communicative challenges. Communication can take many forms such as: speech, a shared glance, text, gestures, facial expressions, touch, sign language, symbols, pictures, and speech-generating devices” (RCSLT, 2023) to name just some.

AAC Core Boards are a powerful tool to empower non-speakers to express ideas. In this blog, we’ll explore the significance of AAC Core Boards and how they can unlock the world of communication for non-speaking children.

Let’s discover and understand AAC Core Boards

Firstly, let’s look at what a Core Board looks like…

AAC Coreboards
Credit: Saltillo Word Power

Why not have a go and download your own copy (and other boards) for free on the Saltillo Word Power website.

AAC Core Boards are a specific type of AAC system that employs a grid-style board. This grid contains a set of core vocabulary words or symbols, which serve as a foundation for all communicative functions (e.g., initiating, greeting, requesting, negating, commenting, asking a question, and expressing surprise).

These boards incorporate high-frequency (most used) and versatile words. They enable us to construct sentences, express emotions, and take part in conversations, fostering a sense of independence and autonomy. By enabling communication, we also remove some of the frustration (from not being able to communicate) which contributes/or often leads to behavioural difficulties.

Building literacy skills

AAC Core Boards are not only tools for immediate communication. They also play a pivotal role in language and literacy development. By using these boards, non-verbal children engage with words and symbols. It reinforces their understanding of language structure and grammar.

As they consistently play with and then use their boards, they naturally absorb language patterns, laying the foundation for improved literacy skills. This immersive learning experience paves the way for future language acquisition and communication growth.

Customisation for individual needs

Every child is unique, and their communication needs can vary significantly. AAC Core Boards are designed with this diversity in mind, allowing for customisation to suit individual preferences and abilities. The boards can be adapted to include specific vocabulary relevant to a child’s daily life, interests, and activities. This personalisation ensures that the AAC Core Board is a true reflection of your child’s personality and needs, making communication more motivating, engaging and effective.

Collaboration between AAC Core Boards and Speech Therapy

AAC Core Boards are an excellent tool but we need to know one important aspect: they only work well when used regularly by the child’s family and key people in the first place.

The board needs to be used and modelled by adults consistently and regularly across environments. This is so our children know what to expect, take an interest and begin to use the boards themselves. Modelling the use of AAC Core boards is vital. Think how long it typically takes for a child to learn their first word. Around a year! During that time the adults talk constantly to their child without hesitation or expectation! The same goes for introducing this new way of communicating.

Collaborating with your child’s Speech and Language Therapist (SLT) ensures that your child receives the right guidance in using the AAC system. SLTs can assess your child’s communication abilities, recommend appropriate boards and provide guidance on how to best put them in place, so that your child can reach their communicative potential.

For non-speaking children, AAC Core Boards are more than just tools. They are bridges to a world of communication, connection, and empowerment. These boards harness the power of visual communication, foster language development, social interaction, and personal expression. They can be tailored to individual needs with the support of skilled professionals. AAC Core Boards offer a beacon of hope, helping to break through communication barriers and thrive in a world that is waiting to hear your child’s voice.

For answers to your questions and to explore the most effective support for your child, feel free to contact us.

Find a speech and language therapist for your child in London. Are you concerned about your child’s speech, feeding or communication skills and don’t know where to turn? Please contact me and we can discuss how I can help you or visit my services page.


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