What is it about?

Individuals with disabilities, including communication disabilities, have higher prevalence rates of mental illness. Psychotherapy can support mental health and address the impacts of mental illness, but it relies heavily on communication. Communicating via augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) results in unique alterations to the communication exchange between communication partners. These alterations may place individuals who use AAC at a disadvantage when accessing mental health services, including psychotherapy. Research is needed to understand the impacts of AAC on psychotherapy and to develop accommodations and supports for individuals who use AAC.

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Why is it important?

Mental health is foundational to overall health, and everyone has the right to achieve their highest possible level of health. There may be barriers for individuals who use AAC when trying to access mental health services, however. This work highlights some of the ways psychotherapy may be impacted by the use of AAC, and offers suggestions for future research aimed at developing accommodations and supports for individuals who use AAC.

Perspectives

I hope this article raises awareness of the need for better access to mental health supports for patients who use AAC. I have had an interest in mental health for several years. After I learned about AAC in graduate school, I started thinking about access to mental health services for patients who use AAC. This is an area that needs much more attention in both research and clinical practice, and I hope that I am able to bring this issue to light.

Adrianna Noyes
The Pennsylvania State University

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Supporting Access to Mental Health Services for Patients Who Use Augmentative and Alternative Communication: A Proposed Framework and Suggestions for Future Directions, American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, September 2022, American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), DOI: 10.1044/2022_ajslp-22-00089.
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