Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Adventures in Augmentative and Alternative Communication

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Say what?  A non-verbal child can talk? 
Yes, a child that is considered non-verbal is able to communicate using advancements of modern technology. 

We've been working with Noah on a variety of Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) devices.  These range from switches, to Ipad communication apps, to his Tobii Eye Gaze.   We have decided that Noah has made great progress with his Tobii Eye Gaze device that he's ready to transition into sentence building.  A big step as this will allow him to communicate just like you or I do by using the eight parts of speech — verbs, nouns, pronouns, adverbs, adjectives, prepositions, conjunctions and interjections. 

We will be working on transitioning Noah slowly not to disrupt the skills he has already acquired.  He is proficient in picking appropriate answers on his eye gaze when asked, but it doesn't allow him the option of telling us what is on his mind, it simply demonstrates to us his high level of understanding and comprehension.   I have a feeling Noah is really going to like the new verbal freedom we're about to introduce.  He's eager to absorb new things, and is very possessive over his talking device.  So much so if we mess up a feature while programming it - he gets extremely upset until we are able to correct it for him.

We've also been playing around with a really new fun gadget called the Airturn BT-105, a device produced by a man named Lester Karplus, and a distributor and vendor RJ Cooper.  This gadget is also commonly referred to as the Ipad Switch Interface or Bluetooth Switch Interface. 

The two most popular websites for purchase are as follows:
**Note that you must make sure that you purchase from a therapy site for proper programming.  Purchases through Amazon or other website will not guarantee that they will be app specific and work with your Ipad and accounts for the difference in pricing **

This amazing little device allows you to plug in one or two switches to allow for both communication and play on the Ipad.   For the first time both Luke and Noah were able to play a game together using switches on the Ipad.  Together they took turns playing bumper cars.  One of Noah's favorites.  Many of the most popular switch games can be found at Inclusive Technology. They range around $3.00 for most apps and a couple featured are free.
Noah & Luke playing Bumper Cars together
There are also great educational switch programs called ChooseIt.  These are geared towards academic learning and come with a considerable price tag of around $60 per app.  We hope to acquire those apps eventually for Noah, when we are financially able to do so.  I think they would be a great benefit to him.  And fantastic list of switch compatible apps can be found here.

I still have hopes and dreams that we'll still be able to one day have access to Magic Carpet by Sensory Guru which would allow both children to play games with the feature of a very elaborate sensory mat.   Technology is giving my children a way to actively participate with each other.  It's like the same feeling the Upsee gave us - a way to participate together as a family.  There is no other feeling like it. 


Noah's Miracle by Stacy Warden is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.