Should this be a controversial topic I don't think so. The opinion is that if you provide other avenues to communicate then the child will resist the opportunity to communicate, basically stating that augmentative communication is a hindrance not a tool. Surprisingly I have heard this opinion on more than one occasion and it has caused issues with trying to help my son navigate his non verbal world.
My question is, should it be ok for children to be locked in silence without any form of communication. Should it be ok for them to spend all day at school completely silent unable to express themselves their ideas or their needs and wants. This should not be a situation that exists however sadly it does. This is the dilemna of any parent of a child who has issues with their communication regardless if they are Selectively Mute or not.
What are the consequences of these attitudes? From my point of view, the issue with lack of communication is an acceptable place for them to express themselves. Being non verbal I would imagine would be extremely stressful and anxiety provoking. We want children and for that matter clients of ours to be independant and self empowered, self directing and motivating. How can they do this in a world that can't hear what they need and what they want to say.
The second issue is that if a child does not get the opportunity to communicate when they can and if they want to it causes secondary effects, first of all if a child has a speech delay in any form not being able to talk and hear feedback and have people talk back to them, delays their development. There is a lot of stress and pressure put on parents to get their child to work on their speech, but this issue is happening. Secondly which is also important is we act surprised when our children behave in a non acceptable manner, for example at school in the shopping centre. Yet they are frustrated because they can't communicate. They are screaming in their heads trying to say something and we are there with NO idea.
Now don't get me wrong I don't think for a second that a child should use AAC without any verbal attempts at communication that is not correct. But I don't believe for a second that it inhibits their speech development. Please have a read of this document on the scale of communicate and how we progress to verbal communication I think this clearly shows how we can move through to verbal communication.