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Archive for the ‘Software’ Category

A useful link provided by Eric Saliers of Speech-Language Pathology Sharing.

He also writes about the iPad. I was really excited when I saw this new device from Apple as I can see it has potential to become a really useful communication aid for Archie. Both through AAC programs such as Proloquo2go and through typing. There’s also Alexicom Tech; an internet based AAC system. It apparently works offline as well.

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I’ve just come across MouseTrial. It’s computer software that aims to increase vocabulary. Can be used for fun or as part of an ABA program.

We’re not running any sort of program at the moment, but my son has a slight (understatement) obsession with various household objects and would probably really enjoy this. I think it’s something that should be at the right levels as well. I’ll try him tonight. English accents too which is a bonus for those of us in England. It costs $29 or $10 for individuals modules and you can play online or via a CD. You can try it for free.

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Sorry I can’t really review The Center for AAC and Autism yet as I haven’t had a chance to look at it. I’ve glanced long enough to get very excited about how interesting it looks. I remain very interested in how AAC can be used to help those who remain non-verbal and feel it’s something we haven’t really yet got to grips with using as well as we should be yet.

My son is pretty flexible in the way he communicates these days, he’ll use photos, pictures on the wall, dragging, reference objects, PECS, the few signs he has, anything really. He recently produced his first word combination that just about represented a sentence.  Non verbal of course, but there to be encouraged. Recently a lot of people have commented on how much he is trying to communicate and I feel we should be doing more to help him.

I was reminded of this yesterday. Yesterday was a Thursday. On Thursdays my Dad usually comes in and makes buckwheat pancakes for all the kids. This is a longstanding tradition dating from the time when number 1 son didn’t eat anything. However, Grandad had things to do yesterday so didn’t come in and I started to cook a big family meal of  spag bol instead. A few years ago this would have been met my much screaming I guess. But instead number 1 son appeared next to me with a pancakes PECS symbol in his had. He then pointed at the pan I was using. I don’t think he really wanted pancakes; he actually prefers spag bol these days, he wasn’t using his PECS symbol to request. He was telling me that I’d mixed up my days and it was pancake day. I just explained that no, Grandad wasn’t coming in today and he was quite happy. No complaint, accepted the explanation and off he went.

Edited to add: I’ve had a look in further detail at the website now. They use an approach called LAMP – Language Aquisition Through Motor Planning – this interests me a lot as it takes into account of the motor issues that  I believe many children with severe autism have. Something that many people forget or underestimate. Unfortunately it looks a little difficult to access training from the UK. I will try and contact the center though to find out. They also use an AAC device that looks absolutely fantastic, but it is thousands of dollars. It’s probably a fair cost given the limited market and costs in designing the device, but it just makes it unaffordable for most.  They do give advice on funding sources (for those in the US), and there are UK funders available (weirdly social service can be a resource for this sort of thing) but I personally would be concerned about spending that much on a device -even with funding-  without knowing in advance whether it was going to work for us.

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Hiyah.net. Full marks for this one. Developed by the  ex-special needs teacher Mum of 2 autistic boys (one with severe and one with moderate autism) she has developed a series of computer games which can be operated using only the space bar. They are designed for children with limited language and are free, with no advertising on the site. There may be some Mac compatibility issues (there seems to be with mine), but hey ho I’m still impressed.

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pocket

Wow, was my first thought when seeing this. Proloquo2Go is one of the most exciting products I have seen for a long time. An affordable and portable AAC system. All you need is an iPod Touch or iPhone and you’re well away. iPod Touch’s start from a very reasonable £150 -reasonable for an AAC device anyway. You then take a trip to iTunes and download the Proloquo2Go application which currently is available for an introductory price of £84.99 (soon to be rising to £114.99). Hey presto your iPod Touch or iPhone is a pretty powerful AAC device.

I downloaded it today onto my rather ancient iPod Touch. The new generation iTouch comes with inbuilt speakers, but the older models need an external speaker, I managed to find an old, basic portable speaker lying around at home  so have been using that. When Archie came home from school I showed him the application. He picked it up pretty much straight away and was soon asking for “I want apple”.

I’ll spend the next few days customising it so that it’s easier for Archie to find the symbols he commonly uses and I’ll also have a go at adding some photos of familiar items. This sort of versatility is usually only found on devices costing thousands. AssistiveWare who developed the Proloquo2Go application are dedicated to making powerful AAC devices affordable. They say (probably correctly) this can only be achieved by developing software for a consumer, rather than specialist device. Exciting times ahead.

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This looks good, if pricey. In fact it looks really good. I spotted it a year or so ago but thought that it needed Boardmaker software (which would make it really, really expensive) to run, but it doesn’t. You can take any picture, or set of words, anything you want, put it in the plastic pocket, then record directly onto the plastic pocket. The child (or adult) can then press the plastic pocket in order to initiate the recording. 

So it could be a mini VOCA, or you could use it as an educational toy to teach something like sentence construction, or even as something fun. Archie loves photographs at the moment. With this I could put a photograph into the plastic pocket, of granny and granddad say, then get them to record something. So when Archie pressed the picture of granny he would hear granny talking for example. The possibilities are endless and I have been dreaming about them whilst watching the product video guide. You may need to register to view that training video. 

I haven’t bought it yet. I’m saving up. It’s available in the UK from Inclusive Technology, currently priced at an eye watering £499 plus VAT, although I suspect this may be VAT exempt if purchased for the use of a disabled person. 

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Archie’s watching Thomas and refusing to go to bed until the end, so just time for a quick review tonight. If you’ve been in the special needs game for a while you’ll almost certainly have come across this company, if not they need to be added to your favourites list on your web browser.

 Inclusive Technology provide hardware and software for all kinds of special needs. From specialist keyboards to simple software. They are extremely helpful and very knowledgeable. If you have any sort of IT need start here. Delivery has always been quick, communication good and many of their products are VAT free if being bought for someone with a disability.

I’ll review the various bits of software and hardware I’vbe bought from them another day.  

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