A Boy and His iPad—Part One
I have loved reading about SLPs' experiences with the iPad over the last year, and am enjoying the ADVANCE AAC and App review blogs. I am still a newbie when it comes to the iPad, and am looking forward to an iPad workshop and having one to use at school in the fall.
Over the last two weeks I have had the opportunity to meet 2 very different preschool aged boys who each had their own iPad. One little boy (We'll call him "A") and his mother met with me and a couple of other SLPs to see if we could put our heads together to come up with ways for him to start using the iPad, which was a gift from his grandparents. A was in a wheel chair, and had some motor involvement, which made it difficult for him to reach and activate the buttons on the app Tap to Talk. (I will talk more about the other boy, B in my next entry!)
As we spoke with his mom, A was very engaged in taking toys out of a bag, playing with them, and dropping them on the floor and waiting for one of us to pick them up! He clearly understood cause and effect! A tried to put toys together and roll a car but didn't engage in play beyond that (and of course this was NOT an evaluation, just an observation while talking to his mom.) When A was shown some fun musical and cause and effect apps he reached for the iPad, but seemed to be more interested in the toys in his bag. The SLP working with him has had some success using eye gaze, and also some pictures with switches when making a choice of a preferred vs a non preferred item.
A's mom wondered whether she should purchase Proloquo to Go, use the iPad for communication only and/or let him play with it. She also wanted to see if we knew of other apps which might be beneficial. After talking with her, and watching him, we suddenly realized that although A should be exposed to his mom modeling the iPad to label, comment it is okay if he's not ready to pick it up and use it for communication. There are some great apps which target some basic skills such as cause and effect, and we discovered this one with large buttons for answering yes/no questions (which could help target accuracy.) We also reminded ourselves that these are early days to use the iPad for communication, and more and more apps will be released in time, some which may be less expensive and more effective for this little guy.
For me, this meeting was a fabulous reminder that just because the iPad is fun and very cool, it is not immediately going to help all kids communicate. There are some children who need to work on pre-language skills, whose motor skills will not allow them to access the iPad and who need to work on positioning before anything else.
In my next post, I will talk about another little boy and HIS iPad!
PLEASE comment below or on the ADVANCE Facebook page about how you have used the iPad for AAC, and whether or not it has been successful. I would love to know if you have tips to share or know if any accessibility features for more motorically impaired individuals are in the works.