Augmentative Communication Services for Children and Youth

Augmentative Communication Services (ACS) focuses on helping children and youth who face challenges in communicating through speech and/or writing. At ACS, we offer assessment and treatment services for various communication needs, always striving to improve the communication abilities of our clients.

Our services are designed to address two primary communication needs:

Face to Face Communication:

  • Individuals who are non-verbal or have difficulty being understood when speaking.
  • Those who require alternative or augmentative means of communication.

Writing Aids:

  • Individuals with physical disabilities affecting their written communication skills.
  • Children under 6 years old who show potential for literacy development but require alternative methods for writing.

Our approach is not solely technology-based. We are dedicated to improving communication in all its forms, employing various strategies to achieve this goal.

Our Approach

Through a team-based approach, families and children/youth are supported through the knowledge and expertise of:

  • speech-language pathologists,
  • occupational therapists,
  • communicative disorder assistants,
  • technologists (rehabilitation engineer) and/or
  • special education liaison teacher(s).

The Seating and Mobility service may also be involved if communication devices are to be combined with mobility equipment.

Assessment and Treatment

A team approach is essential for the successful implementation of Augmentative Communication (AAC). Our team at ACS provides:

  • Assessment: We evaluate your child’s communication needs, and if they can benefit from speech and/or writing aids.
  • Recommendations: We recommend appropriate speech and writing aids.
  • Training and Consultation: We train and consult with caregivers, communication coaches, and community partners, such as schools.

We also offer home-based services to ensure families receive adequate support at home before extending our assistance to other environments, such as daycare or school.

In addition to direct services, we provide consultative services, empowering clients and primary care providers to incorporate new communication aids into everyday life effectively.

What ACS Services Involve

Communication can take many forms, especially for children and youth who struggle with verbal communication. Our team explores various solutions, including eye blink or eye gaze technology, modified computers, or iPads with special touchscreen capabilities.

As an Expanded Level Clinic under the Assistive Devices Program (ADP) of the Ontario Ministry of Health and Ministry of Long-Term Care, we can prescribe a wide range of technology to support both face-to-face and written communication.

Our services are available at our Waterloo Site and, when suitable, in your child’s home, school, or community.

Milestones to Indicate the Need for Referral

Referrals to Augmentative Communication Services are typically made when a child or youth:

  • Struggles with face-to-face communication and requires alternative means.
  • Demonstrates a physical disability affecting written communication skills.
  • Is under 6 years old and shows potential for literacy development but needs alternative writing methods.

All referrals are reviewed by our team for eligibility, and the referring clinician and family will be notified of the outcome.

For clients under 18 years old or until they have completed high school, parents can re-refer at any time if needed. Please complete the Re-Referral form, available on our website.

For adult ACS Clinics, contact ADP for a list of current adult clinics in your area.

New Referrals

Face-to-Face Communication Referral Form

Written Referral Form

Re –Referrals

Clients may be re-referred to Augmentative Communication Services when they have been previously assessed and discharged by ACS. Parents may re-refer any time up to age 18 or high school exit.

Face-to-Face Communication Re-referral Form

Written Re-referral Form

Referrals and Re-refferals can be faxed to 519-886-7292.

We offer consultation appointments with our Speech-Language Pathologists and Occupational Therapists upon request. Community SLPs and OTs are also welcome to schedule consultations with us to learn more about our services.

To book an appointment, please contact our Client Support Assistant at 519-886-8886 or 1-888-372-2259 ext. 2222 or via email at