In general, most children hear approximately 1,200 words per hour, and they learn language by listening to the words they hear every day. It’s difficult to imagine how many times a typical one-year-old hears a word like ‘more’ before learning to say it. Children develop language and speech by hearing sounds, morphemes, words, and sentence structures repeatedly, and these repetitions sometimes happen 10,000 times before children are able to generate them on their own.
Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) users need that same type of exposure to their AAC language systems before we should expect them to ‘speak’ AAC. If a child is using an AAC device, then his or her parents or caregivers also need to work continuously to model how the AAC works, so the child is immersed in the language. Over time, children will be more likely to observe and mimic what they’ve learned. The more you use the AAC, the sooner your child’s language skills will improve.