Thursday, November 11, 2010

iSupports for Children with Autism: Photo-Sort and iCommunicate

My first goals for helping parents start to use the iphone, the ipod touch or the ipad to support their child with communication are:

1) Teach parent to communicate with a child using inexpensive programs (apps) that can be put on the ipod touch, the iphone, and/or the ipad.  Many parents have purchased one of these devices because they already use photos or picture symbols with a child and want to keep all those hundreds of pictures in one handy place.  For those parents, I teach the parent one way to organize photos or pictures symbols so that it is easy to find a picture  or a group of pictures and use them.  For some parents, this is a new idea and then we talk a lot about why it is helpful for a parent to do this. This is Parent to Child Communication.

2) Teach a child to  communicate in new ways on the device--usually by touching photos that will say words when touched.  For children who are nonverbal or restricted in the way they use language to communicate, giving the child an easy way to say new things is a powerful support to communication learning.  This is Child to Parent (or others) Communication.

Lately, I have been using two apps most often, Photo-Sort and iCommunicate.  I teach the parent how these apps work and then we start solving communication problems and teaching new communication skills with whichever app is more appropriate.  I suggest this one/two approach for anyone reading this.  First, get these apps and learn how they work by going to the developer websites or playing around with the app--or getting a teenager to show you.  Then, take one communication problem or goal at a time and work on it with your child.

I love these devices because they allow a child to have good communication supports in all environments.  With nothing but these two apps, you can do more to help your child cope with communication limitations and more to help your child develop new communication skills with a few minutes of work than parents were able to accomplish with hours of work in the past.

Photo-Sort Video

Photo-Sort is an app that allows you to quickly select photos from the photo albums that you have stored on your device and show your child a few of these photos at a time.  For example, I might have a photo of every kind of food that my child likes on my iphone or ipod touch or ipad because I want to use these photos to help my child participate in grocery shopping.  I don't want to use all the pictures on any particular shopping trip, I just want to use the pictures of items we are going to buy today.  Photo-Sort allows me to select just the photos that I want for that days shopping trip.  After we are done shopping that day, I delete the whole folder and make another one the next time we shop.  It takes only minutes to create a visual support that is perfect.  You can see how to use a visual shopping list with a child in this video.  This is Parent to Child Communication.

iCommunicate Video

iCommunicate allows you to do the same thing only add sounds--including sound effects, words, phrases, or whole sentences. This way the child can touch the photo and say something--which is Child to Parent (or others) Communication.  I love iCommunicate because this app (and some other similar apps) make it possible for a child with autism to have wonderful voice output communication device for hundreds of dollars rather than thousands of dollars.  There are so many ways this app can be used that the only limitation is the imagination of the parent or whoever is creating communication boards for the child.

Here is one example of how iCommunicate could be used. Suppose you are trying to help a child participate in choosing items to put on the shopping list while still at home. You might be trying to help a child learn how to use language to plan.  In this case, the child needs to be able to communicate his or her ideas to the parent.  This would be a good time to use iCommunicate because with this program, the child can suggest ideas about what to buy at the store even if he or she does not yet have the verbal skills to using language this way.

Watch for more ideas on how to use iCommunicate in upcoming blog posts.  I have been collecting video clips with lots of kids using this program successfully and I can't wait to show them to you. 

1 comment:

Jordan said...

This is very helpful! I didn't know about Photo-Sort but just added it to my iPad. And I definitely appreciate the video on iCommunicate, which I had but hadn't spent enough time exploring. I've been working hard to learn Proloquo2go, as 3 of my clients are now using it as their AAC system, and I love that! Thanks for posting about your work with these apps, I look forward to reading more.