Navigate Life Texas: Resources for kids with disabilities and special needs

Navigate Life Texas: Resources for kids with disabilities and special needs

Software Apps Provide a “Cool” Way to Communicate

12/20/2016 | Published by: Family to Family Network

Avery’s parents are long-time fans of alternative augmentative communication (AAC). This is a communication method or device that helps people communicate when they are unable to speak or be understood on their own.

“Avery was diagnosed with autism before the age of two,” explains her mom Debbie. “When it was clear that her language was delayed, we immediately jumped on augmentative communication. When Avery was four, she began using top-of-the-line Dynavox products.”

According to her mom, AAC opened doors for Avery both socially and academically. Using a communication device, Avery’s teachers were able to assign her speaking parts in grade-level programs. She added to class discussions about the theme of the week. She called out spelling words to the class. She presented her group’s poetry project. And she made her student council campaign speech in 5th grade - and got elected!

Today, Avery’s iPod Touch has become her communication device of choice. She prefers using the iPod Touch because it is small and easy to use.

“As Avery has good fine motor skills, the smaller size works well for her,” Debbie notes. “But there are lots of other types of devices available with larger screens, assistive touch, etc.”

Avery uses a communications app (Proloquo2Go) that she downloaded from the iTunes store. Debbie says this is just one of many AAC apps available. Not to mention all the great apps for learning and independence!

She advises parents to work with a licensed speech language pathologist (SLP) to find the best match for their child’s AAC needs. The SLP will make recommendations based on an AAC assessment. Then they will work with the child to get the most out of their device and app.

Also, there are many great resources for families to search the range of AAC options available. A good place to start is at Bridging Apps. They have app lists, selection services, workshops, and many other resources. They also have open lab days where you can go in and try the equipment. Labs are available in Houston, The Woodlands, and Stafford. 

The Texas Technology Access Program can lend you a device or app if you want to try something before you buy. Contact them at 1-800-828-7839 or visit their website  People must be working with an SLP to be considered for a 30-day loan.

Debbie says Avery never goes anywhere without her AAC device. It gives her confidence to be able to communicate her needs. “Like most teenagers, Avery is always attached to her mobile device. She looks cool, feels cool and communicates cool!”

Find more information about AAC on this website. 

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