What is Modelling or Aided Language Input(ALI)?

Modelling is also known as Aided Language Input (ALI) or Aided Language Stimulation (ALS). It is a strategy where all the communication partners (parents, teachers, and therapists) are encouraged to speak to the child using the same AAC app /device in the same manner that they expect the child to useBy using the same AAC system themselves, to communicate with the child, it helps the child to observe the use of AAC by the partners and learn to imitate the same. 

Research has proved that modelling is one of the most effective strategies for facilitating communication for a child with complex communication needs.  

Watch this brief video to understand more about Aided Language Input : (2.5 min video)

Video Courtesy: Internet : Christofer Bugaj, AT LCPSAT

Remember: A typically developing child hears 4000 words a day for 365 days in a year before they utter their first word. Similarly a child with AAC needs, needs to hear the same word spoken to them using AAC at least 50-150 times before they are able to start using it themselves. So modelling the same set of words through the day is critical to the child's learning.

Every day is filled with plenty of communication opportunities for the child. A typically developing child is exposed to around 30 million words in the first 3 years of life and learns language by repeated exposure to various sounds, morphemes, words and sentence structures, before they are able to generate language on their own. It is no different for children using speech devices; they need to see the device being used and see repeated use of language before they are able to generate it on their own. This can only happen if the entire team surrounding the child are motivated to make consistent use of the same AAC app to the child under all environments - be it at home, school, class, with friends etc. Besides, the use of the AAC device by the adults surrounding them, would allow them to perceive it to be an accepted mode of communication. 

We encourage the use of ALI using Avaz by all communication partners - family members, peers, siblings, friends, to model language on the device to increase their exposure to receptive language, besides being motivated by interacting with different people.

Courtesy: Internet - How to model AAC - Worcestershire Speech and Language therapy

Why is Modelling important for teaching AAC

While a typically developing child people grow up listening to a lot of language spoken by all members of the family, right from birth, until the child learns to start talking maybe around 12-18 months. The people around continue to talk to the child, regardless of the child's ability to speak, and without expecting a response from the child. 

However, a child with complex communication needs does NOT receive the same amount of language stimulation as a neuro-typical child. Moreover, this child is also "expected" to start using AAC within a few weeks or months! 

A child learns a language by hearing thousands of repetitions of every word / syllable / phoneme. A child requires receptive language repeated thousands of times and these are stored in memory they before they are able to develop the oro-motor skills to be able to speak these words aloud. However for children with complex communication needs, the receptive language is far from this requirement, and they may in fact need more models than a neuro-typical child receives. 

Here is a famous quote from Jane Korsten, to drive home the importance of Modelling AAC: 

 "By 18 months, babies have hears 4,380 hours of spoken language and we don't expect them to be fluent yet". However, if AAC learners only see symbols modelled twice a week for 30 minutes, it will take them 84 years to have the same exposure to aided language as an 18 month old has to spoken language

Just as a teacher would speak French to teach French, or speak Sign Language to teach Sign language, so also it is extremely important to speak AAC to teach AAC to the child. 

Just as handing over a piano or any musical instrument to a child does give the child the ability to start playing it on their own, so also with AAC - a child cannot learn to start using AAC unless they are taught how to use an AAC system. No amount of repeated "modelling" will ever be too much to help them learn to use AAC. 

Benefits of modelling

This is a strategy that is too powerful to ignore. Here is why..

  1. Motivates the child to use it for communication, when they observe their communication partner using it.
  2. Helps the child learn faster to communicate.
  3. Helps teach the child to use it during real life interactions.
  4. Helps the child see AAC as an acceptable form of communication and interaction.
  5. The child gets that much more exposure to receptive language.
  6. Helps adult (parents and teachers) get familiar with the AAC so that it becomes easier to customize or trouble shoot.
  7. Expands our sphere of influence, to get the entire team that supports the child to also start using AAC

Related articles:

Avaz FAQ:

    How do I do modeling ?

    Tips for modelling

    Modelling strategies


   What is modelling?

    How to model?

    Tips for Modelling

Reference: Source: internet

Read more about Why ALI is a pivotal skill for communication intervention - from PrAACticalAAC.org