AT for communication
Assistive Technology for Communication
This isn’t my area of expertise. I have used most of the programs once or twice. Here are the big things that I know:
- Most of these programs are meant for kids with Autism. And everyone wants to make money off Autism—so the programs are pricey. Try to get someone else—school district, insurance, whoever to pay for them!
- Talk with your Speech and Language Pathologist. This is their wheelhouse and they can tell you how to set up the programs and where to start.
How they work:
Basically, these programs are electronic versions of old fashioned communication boards (like PECS). You set how many pictures a kid sees at once, what the pictures look like, and what they do.
For a lower/younger student, they might only see two pictures—one of orange juice and one of milk. When they click the orange juice picture you give them orange juice. When they click the milk picture, they get milk. A lot of programs start with those basics—letting the kids choose a drink/snack/game from two or three choices.
As students improve, they get more choices to choose from and beginning sentences are introduced. They might click on an “I want” button and go to a page with a snack picture, a drink picture, and a game picture. When they click on the “snack” picture, they go to a page with a bunch of snacks on it and they pick the snack they want.
The programs can get even more complex—reading back sentences and allowing students to carry on conversations with menus nested in menus in menus.
Speech and language pathologists can help you figure out how complex to make the programs to start. Some kids can handle the slightly creepy stick figure drawings the programs come with and others need photos of the actual objects/foods/people.
If you are a parent, get to know the programs. They are an AWESOME tool for you to use at home. For teachers—if you kids has one of these make sure you know how to use and use it—for lots of students with limited communication these programs give them a voice.
One of my students uses his iPad differently. He takes photos and videos of things at home that when we ask what he likes or did he can look at the picture clues to job his memory and give him an idea of what to say. Really the communication possibilities of technology are pretty endless!
The main one that I have seen is TouchChat. There are others that parents and teachers have shown me but I am blanking on their names and will put them up when I remember!