Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC)

AAC stands for 'Augmentative and Alternative Communication'. This means any system other than a person's speech that is used for communicating such as signs, symbols and devices.


What are the different types of AAC? 

Signing and Gestures 

Objects of Reference

Paper based systems - (photographs, symbols, writing, drawing)  

Electronic systems 


Our top tips:

Getting started with AAC

AAC - Frequently asked questions


Core Words

Core words are the words which make up most of what we often say. When children are learning to talk, these are the words which are the most useful to teach your child as they can be used really meaningfully across lots of different situations.  For children who are beginning to use an AAC system (e.g. signs/symbols) these are the words which are helpful to teach your child first. Learning these words will help your child communicate for lots of different reasons. Some of the most common core words are: more, stop, go, help, you, mine, no.  

Take a look at the handouts below for ideas around how to teach your child these words within your everyday activities. Remember you can use the strategy of Match + 1 with your child using their AAC too. 

Core words with Makaton signs

Core word - more

Core word - finish

Core word - go


For further advice on how to create a supportive environment for children who use alternative communication systems, please see our page 'Communication Friendly Environment'. 


Useful links:

The ACE centre website contains lots of fantastic symbol boards which you can download for free to try with your child at home.