Child characteristics

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Child characteristics


The child’s chronological age. These findings suggest the age of the child or young person is often used as a frame to consider both existing and expected future progress.

Assumed abilities

Where assumptions have been made about the child’s level of functioning.

Child’s preference

This characteristic refers to the child’s views regarding options of communication system or way of communicating.

Cognitive skills

Information about the child’s general cognitive skills including attention, memory, focus, learning style, and insight. The child’s perceived cognitive abilities shaped the views of what communication supports should be offered and when. Findings suggest the need to consider different aspects of cognition.

Communication ability

This considers the view of the child’s level of communication ability, both aided and unaided. Findings suggest that communication ability needs to be described across different contexts and related to differing people’s views of the child.


This refers to any medical or speech and language diagnosis for the child or young person. The child’s diagnoses filters expectations and choices for some members of the team about access to services, system selection, access methods and even vocabulary organization.

Expectations and aspirations

This describes the child’s future journey with AAC. It includes predicted needs, and goals for AAC, hopes, and expectations. Findings suggest that the child’s expected future pathway shaped decisions for the current recommendation. 

Linguistic level

This described the child or young person’s existing level of language, literacy and graphic symbol knowledge. Findings suggest that often insufficient detail is provided at the time of a communication aid assessment to accurately describe the child’s current receptive and expressive language abilities.

Motor abilities and operational competence

This section includes consideration of physical skills, mobility, and speech intelligibility. Findings suggest challenges related to children’s motor and operational abilities influence the communication aid recommendation process.

Personality and temperament

This includes references to the child’s personality, temperament and includes motivation and frustration. Findings suggest that a child’s personality and temperament were considered during the communication aid recommendation process, with the potential to have both a positive and negative influence.

Progress and communication opportunities

Simply having a communication aid can open up new communication opportunities as other people’s perceptions of the child with the communication aid change. The findings suggest for many children a lengthy process of trialling a communication aid should be part of the recommendation process. This process allows time for the skills needed to use a communication aid to develop. It also offers opportunities to use the aid in real interactions which supports informed recommendations based on sufficient practice and learning opportunities. These opportunities can be used to better understand each child’s learning trajectories.

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