What is it about?

The rollercoaster adventures of parenting three kids, dealing with disability and mental health - and discussing disability discrimination and how to tackle it.

Wednesday, 9 June 2010


Don't we live in interesting times with regards to technology for kids with special needs?

Little BooBoo still struggles with speech. She knows what she wants, she knows how to say it, but the words just don't come out in a way that people can understand properly. This creates frustration and leads people to assume that she doesn't understand them. They then talk to me about her, and all of that frustrates her even more.

She goes to speech therapy twice a week, and the girl is working really hard. She's getting there with the "s" and "f" sounds. In fact, she going so well with her speech that the therapists are starting to think that maybe she has a physiological problem in terms of air flow management, and we have made a tentative booking with a specialist at the Cleft Palate clinic at the children's hospital - but that's another story.

We have been discussing that the time may have come to try some technology to help the BooBoo Girl along in her attempts to communicate with the world.

Meanwhile, I have been gratefully plugged in to the collective brains of the CPecialparents.

The things those parents know, you wouldn't believe it. And there are some serious experts on augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) devices.

I had heard a bit about a great app for the iPod Touch called Proloquo2Go. Unlike many AACs, which can cost a few thousand collard, you can download it for just over $230. It's a deceptively simple program where you touch a series of pictures to make a sentence and then the computer speaks it. You get audio feedback when you touch the picture so even non-readers can use it.

There are a number of categories and there is quite a complex set of words, concepts and phrases in the program. Being digital, you can move things around, you can delete and add new words and categories, and you can add your own photographs. For example, you can take a picture of family members or a child's favorite toys and add them to the program.

As we had a small iPod Touch in the house, we decided to give it a try. And it worked a treat. BooBoo got the idea very quickly and very much liked to use it. She was even inspired to copy the computer voice and try out some new words. The only disadvantage was that the speaker in the iPod is not too great, so to really make it work, we bought a small external speaker, which was a bit fiddly to carry around and set up. And it has to be said, that the buttons on the iPod are a bit small. While she can manage, we knew it could be easier.

I was eyeing his new iPad. I soooo want one, it looks like such a wonderful thingy.

I know it's not quite a laptop, but in tandem with a desktop, it seems to me the perfect solution. Small, light and versatile. And I can confirm it's all that.

I am typing this on an iPad. Not mine, mind you, BooBoo's.

BooBoo's Opa Pieter loves technology, and of course he has an iPad. When we saw him on Sunday, the girl got to have a play with it, and Opa was most interested to see how quickly she was off and running with the thing. He mentioned that the Proloquo2Go would be so much easier for her to use on an iPad. I agreed wholeheartedly - but added that my finances simply did not stretch to one and the conversation moved on.

That evening, I'm doing some tidying up in the laundry (what is it with that place, I seem to do that regularly, and yet it always ends up in a mess).

And suddenly there stood Opa Pieter with an iPad in his hands!

You should have seen the sparks in that girl's eyes when he gave it to her!


Anonymous said...

How exciting and what a beautiful gift! Is there any better gift you could give to someone than the gift of speech?

We're loving our iPad too. I don't think it, along with P2go is perfect, but they are a pretty darn good combination. I'm going to write my review of all I have learnt about ours in the next few days (as soon as I have time to not be typing one handed while feeding my bub).

Glee said...

Big Grin on my face - Go Boo :)))) Of course Grandpa is gonna buy one!!

Diane Mulligan said...

Just touching base Heike - it's Diane from Sussex. I don't do facebook, too many wierdos stalking amputees for my liking.
You can email me: decmulligan@yahoo.com and I'll give you all the gossip!

OhWheely . . said...

Go Opa! Excellent post.

Big brother, Little sister. said...

Oh Heike that is just so beautiful I could cry, oh I am !
Cannot wait to hear more about Boo's IPAD journey. ox