1) Teach parent to communicate with a child using inexpensive programs (apps) that can be put on the ipod touch, the
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 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
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.