A while back I wrote about my communication problems with our Autistic son Tom, and my intention of trying out a new method (or six). So for around a month now I have been using the Grace App on an iPod Touch with him and his three-year old sister Georgie.
What the app is (in my own words): Simply an electronic picture communication board or a sentence constructor. You’ll find lot’s more information about the App on the Grace App Blog – http://graceappforautismoniphone.blogspot.com/ You use the Grace App in the same way you would picture communication folders or boards, the child looks at the set of pictures and constructs a ‘sentence’ by tapping each picture they need and it appears on the sentence strip at the bottom of the screen.
And so far we’re loving it! Here’s why…
- My kids were able to use it first go.
- Very easy to use.
- Extra pictures can be easily added. This means you can expand the choices without having to print, laminate and velcro new pictures.
- You can use your own pictures for familiarity.
- I don’t have to cart a folder with me everywhere now, just the iPod touch in the back pocket. (Had considered an iPad, but a Touch is far more practical for size and use in our situation).
- Teachers & Caregivers I have shown so far, have been very enthusiastic about using the Grace App, because it is so simple. One of my sons aide’s is using it at school with my son already. Awesome.
- It is encouraging fine motor skill practice for my son.
I am really happy with the App, and to tell the truth a bit surprised that it went so well. Right now the App is priced at $45 Au, which is about middle of the range for these kind of Apps – the decent Apps can be quite pricey. I had intended to try the Go Talk or the Tap to Talk systems, but the overall cost of setting those up came to a couple of hundred dollars more than setting the Grace App up on a Touch, and that includes the price of the iPod. This is the only App set up for Communication pictures – to be used the way kids are have learnt to use them at their schools and support units, that I have found. Some come close and are very similar, but this looks the same because you can make it use the same pictures. This is the reason I think my kids took it so easily. This App does not ‘talk’ like other App’s, I have tried the talking voice Apps but my kids tended to play with them tapping pictures at random just to hear the voice speak. The only negative I can spot with the Grace App, and this is just for our use mind. Is the pictures need to be slightly larger for choice making, and I really would love there to be a sound (like a little click) that indicates that a picture has been chosen – my son seems to need to have an indicator he has pressed on the picture. And I’d love to be able to sort my added on pictures into the categories that already exist and remove some pictures that I may not need, but I hear this is coming in the next App update – looking forward to that, and we are already saving for a second Touch unit so both kids can have their own. I strongly encourage parents of non-verbal children who use communication pictures to check out the Grace App on iTunes. PS: I haven’t been paid for this blog post nor asked to do it by the App creators – see now you know I’m serious 🙂