Gestures/Signs: an arm or body movement with specific meaning that could be formal (like American Sign Language) or informal (a gesture that only your child uses or was modified by your family). Eye gaze, pointing and head nodding would all be considered separate gestures.
Sounds: noises that your child makes with his/her voice like squealing or babbling. Sounds are non-specific vocalizations that can be part of a child’s communication, but you typically have to interpret what he/she means based on what is happening in the moment. For example, your child could be saying ‘ah’ and pointing at his/her toy and you interpret that to mean he/she wants your attention.
Words or word approximations: noises with a specific meaning(s). These can be standard words like “mama” that other people can understand, or word approximations that are part of a word like “ba” meaning “bubbles”. Names for people would be considered words or word approximations.
Augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) devices: anything that your child uses to assist in his/her communication. The device could be high tech (like an application on an iPad or a Dynavox) or low tech (like picture boards). When we say symbols, we mean words, pictures or numbers on your child’s device that he/she intentionally selects to communicate something to you.