Among the many changes that the AAC field has experienced in the last decade is the notion that core vocabulary is (or should be) an integral part of any AAC system. We grew to understand the limitations of AAC supports that consist primarily of nouns and descriptors, realizing that those kinds of communication displays restricted our clients to requesting and labeling. Our field realized the inadequacy of providing only prestored messages (e.g., limited the client’s ability to communicate anything novel, not flexible enough to meet most communication needs, etc.). In essence, we realized that without core vocabulary, we were imposing a ceiling on language development.
Although there is logic to the idea that "if it aint broke don't fix it" how do you know it "aint broke" when your child can't tell you or show you? There is no reason to wait until she is frustrated by the limited AAC. Certainly there is no question that there are things Ainsley would like to express that she couldn't with her previous vocabulary and that will only increase over time because the old vocab had a limited number of words and phrases. Although we could expand it again, as we have in the past, that would just delay the inevitable and still leave her with a limited AAC without working on sentence building skills. I think the real the question is can she learn to use a more sophisticated system. I say YES! I know it will take time and work but she is capable. The reason to do it now is that lately she has shown a real increase in her desire to communicate. This is a mindset shift. It is not just that she is much more interested in her AAC but also that she is asking questions using body language and signs as well as trying to comment about what she sees going on around her, using the limited means she has. In other words she WANTS TO COMMUNICATE. She is eager and ready to learn and that is why I'm working so hard to try to give her a means to do so. The video below explains and shows the reasons we selected the new vocabulary and why we are taking on the huge task of customizing it.