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Parallel Talk: 6 Effective Techniques for AAC Users

Communication is at the core of human connection. Consequently, finding effective language stimulation strategies is vital for children with language delays or challenges. Self-talk and Parallel Talk are two powerful techniques that help in language development. In this blog, let us explore Parallel Talk. We discuss how it can be implemented to empower AAC users to reach their full potential. Plus, find some top techniques and tips to effectively achieve this.

Let’s Talk Techniques

Self-talk and Parallel Talk are particularly effective in early childhood and for children with language delays or challenges.  Learn how to use Self-talk and Parallel Talk Here

Parallel talk is when a caregiver / adult narrates and describes a child’s actions or experiences in real time.  For instance, if a child is playing with a toy car, the adult might say “You’re pushing the car forward, and now making it go backward!”. The purpose of doing this is to provide rich language input to the child. This in turn encourages language development. 

How Can Parallel Talk be Used with AAC Users

This can be a highly beneficial technique for supporting language development and communication in AAC (Augmentative and Alternative Communication) users. AAC users may rely on devices, symbols, or other methods to communicate – parallel talk can enhance their language comprehension and expression. 

Here’s how this method can be used effectively with AAC users:

1. Describing AAC Interactions

During AAC Interactions, the communication partner (parent, caregiver, or educator) can use parallel talk to describe the user’s actions. For example, if the AAC user selects a symbol or word on their device, the communication partner can say “You chose ‘play’, great choice!”. This not only validates their choice but also encourages them to explore and communicate more confidently.

2. Narrating Daily Activities

Throughout the day, the communication partner can describe the AAC user’s activities. For instance, during meal times, one can say, “You’re eating your favorite pasta, delicious!”. Here, the word ”delicious” may be a new word for the AAC user or a reinforcement of their existing vocabulary. This promotes language comprehension and expands the user’s vocabulary. 

3. Engaging with AAC

When using AAC, the communication partner can incorporate parallel talk to describe the app’s activities or characters. For example, when the user is on their AAC device, the communication partner can say “You tapped on the ‘dog’ symbol, and now you’re telling me you want to play with the dog.” This helps the user better understand the purpose of the symbols or words they are selecting on their AAC device.

4. Interactive Storytelling

Engage the AAC user with interactive storytelling. As the story unfolds, use parallel talk to describe characters, events, and emotions. This encourages active participation in the narrative.

5. Virtual Play Sessions

Virtual games or activities provide yet another fantastic opportunity for parallel talk. You can use it to describe the actions the AAC user is taking, in real time. Say the AAC user is involved in a virtual coloring activity. The communication partner can say “You picked the red color, and now you’re coloring the picture. Beautiful!” The user can express preferences, and engage in meaningful interactions, promoting functional communication skills.

6. Language-Rich Activities

We can use parallel talk during activities such as arts and crafts, outdoor explorations, or playtime. For instance, if the AAC user picks up a flower, the communication partner can say “You found a colorful flower! Look at its petals, and notice how sweet it smells”. This helps the user associate words with experiences, making language more meaningful and relevant.

Communication and Connection

Enhanced vocabulary and improved language comprehension are just some of the benefits of parallel talk. As communication partners implement this way of speaking during various activities, AAC users are more likely to apply language skills to various contexts, improving their overall communication. The power of parallel talk forges a stronger bond between communication partners and AAC users. This is turn fosters a deep sense of understanding, empathy, and companionship in every interaction ❤️

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