I thought an update was overdue about my Tom and his use of the iPad as a communication device. As some of you would be aware Thomas is autistic and is on the spectrum as severe, he is non verbal – which means he cannot or won’t talk to us. He uses communication pictures to indicate his needs to us. The usual format for communication pictures is a folder full of small two-inch square laminated pictures, attached to the inner pages of the folder with velcro. The child chooses a picture and sticks it to a sentence strip on the front of the folder to indicate their needs. As you can imagine as a child gets older their needs get higher, as do their communication needs so more and more pictures are needed. This eventually becomes hard to accommodate, and there will come a time when you may not have the communication picture a child wants in the folder. This will most likely result in stress for the child and probably a meltdown to follow. This was my big problem.
Enter the Grace App. The Grace App is a communication application that looks and acts just like a communication folder, with one huge difference – capacity to hold more pictures than a folder. I can fit every picture my son needs into this one app. Thomas has been using the App for sometime now and his response to it has been excellent, we are so happy with it. He has now started bringing us the iPad or iPod Touch to indicate his needs rather than a communication folder. The other great thing about the App is we always have a means of communication on us wherever we go, we have it on our iPhones, the iPad and Tom also takes an iPod Touch to school now with the App on it – no more forgotten folders, no more eaten/chewed communication pictures. You can also add you own pictures to the App so you have consistency, your child can see the same communication pictures at school and home, and you can use whatever type picture suits your childs needs.
I can’t begin to tell you how happy I am, that Tom’s new school has taken onboard the idea of using a tablet device to communicate. On his first day of being able to take his iPod Touch to school, they report no meltdowns, awesomeness. 🙂
Now the thing about these devices is that they are obviously fragile. So you need to get your hands a decent kid proof case. We use the M-Edge case for the iPad, you can read the post I wrote about it here. And there are literally millions of iPod Touch cases out there, we are using one like this at the moment, slipped inside a handmade lanyard style case we got from Etsy. Yes I know this is a link heavy post, but this is a subject I am rather passionate about. My goal is to get more services in Australia aware of how these devices can be utilised, with children and adults who have communication needs. Parents of children with Autism have access to some grants and can use these funds to get these devices. Unfortunately the process of getting approval for such a device is hard, when the professionals who sign off on the money know very little about how these devices can be implemented. Australia needs to catch up to the rest of the world on this.
And now with the release of a new and lighter iPad2 (which incidentally I can’t wait to get my hands on, yes I know I know), things are looking to become more and more portable. I am so happy with how my children have taken to using the iPad for communication and learning. My two Autistic toddlers have been using the iPad with Apps teaching them the alphabet and phonics etc, and their progress into talking this past months has really jumped, they’ll be showing me how to do things next!
If anyone would like to chat to me about this further I’d be happy to, just contact me via the about me tab up the top or leave a comment. Oh and I have not been paid nor received any product in return for this post. 🙂