There have been many ideas, thoughts and plans churning around in my head for some months now as to a better option for Mac for his limited Augmented Communication options. I make no secret of the fact I hate paying the prices on some of these devices and I am resentful of the non-profit organisations who represent us and who don’t fight for better, cheaper products. I also dislike the Australian model of assistance where Speech Therapists believe you have to prove you can drive a formula one car before they let you sit for a learners permit when it comes to AAC devices. Funny isn’t it. I have yet to meet a neurotypical child who was ‘gagged’ from saying their ‘bub-bubs and gurgles’ until they could speak properly.
Having looked at quite a few devices I have found one of the better options out there for Mac would be the M3 made by Dynavox – but at around the $7K mark it is still exorbitantly priced – no matter how good it is. Mac would still need a head switch but it would certainly help his peers communicate more easily and readily with him.
So the idea I have been kicking around is to modify a touch screen MP3 player like the iPhone or iTouch type products. On the iTouch I could then have all the different Audio Files with Album Art stored on there for the different uses. It would mean we could retain greetings, numbers, letters, news, farewells and so on. It would allow (with a voice recording application) for us not to miss many of the opportunities presenting themselves at school for Mac to relisten to such as singing, music, kids reading to him etc. The more I have looked into it more I am finding it probably is the way of the future for us.
A new AAC application for the iPhone has just been released http://www.proloquo2go.com This is a great application to strive towards for Mac.
In the meantime I need to put some serious thoughts into how I could modify something to help add a head switch into the iTouch or iPhone application (eek!).
But, what is making me all the more determined is the huge number of appropriate applications already available through iTunes that would be really suitable for Mac. For example, there is a letter tracing app, where Mac’s finger can be traced around the letter shape – no holding a pencil, no wrangling him into a ridiculous position, no “kid wearing and adult suit” just to trace a letter. The iTouch could be placed in the right position for him… left or right handed side… and he can be shown the letters with little effort.
Other programs I like already available as iPhone or iTouch applications include memory matching, voice recording, alphabet flash cards with animation, jokes, farts (he’s a boy and he is five…), story books.
I will let you know how it transpires… particularly around the head switching or switch adaption opportunities.
btw… the cost of a “One Step Communicator with levels” in Australia is the same price as an 8gig iTouch. It gets harder and harder to justify supporting the “disability model of access and AAC”.