Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The iPad Bandwagon

As we talk with various professionals (educators and therapists, primarily) in Dean's life, the glaring issue right now is expressive speech.

There are two types of speech: expressive and receptive. Receptive is what you understand - and Dean's receptive speech is excellent. He understands almost everything we say. Then there's expressive speech, what you can produce to communicate with others.

Dean's nonverbal communication is great. Through gestures, facial expressions, pointing, demonstrating, and signing, he really gets his point across, especially the more time you spend with him. He might not really talk, but MAN does Dean communicate.

So obviously we're working on *verbal* expressive speech. In the last year of speech therapy, Dean has made little progress in this area. He gained a bunch of words at one point and then... they disappeared. No clue where they went. Some have disappeared and come back (like the word "again," and even then you might not recognize what he's saying if you're not used to hearing it), but most have just flat out gone away. This combined with a variety of other indicators leads us toward a possible diagnosis of childhood apraxia of speech. This is not uncommon to PWS, but it is a separate diagnosis. We'll see. Dean's still technically too young to know for sure, but all signs point to yes. When we go to Florida in a few weeks, we're going to meet with Dr. Miller's SLP and see what her opinion is about all this as well.

Recently, Emmett started talking more and now has the words: milk, mama, ball, book, hi, Elmo, and occasionally dada. That's way more words than Dean has. :( When this discrepancy hit me the other day, it was such a gut-punch. I was so.very.sad. YES, happy for Emmett, PLEASE. But just so badly wanting to hear my Deano's voice. His heart is so sweet (though he is very much a 2-year-old in his behavior :)), so I know his voice must be, too.

I won't get into the entire thing, but AAC (augmentative and alternative communication) devices are often used to let someone with limited expressive speech communicate more clearly. These devices can be VERY costly, but, if you haven't heard, there's another device that has stuck their toe in the water: the iPad.

Google "iPad and special needs" and you'll get a zillion links to websites about this topic. And from what I gather, part of Steve Jobs' hope for iPads and other Apple products was to help people with disabilities. I know many people rail against technology and how it has isolated so many people, but there are many for whom it has opened doors.

So we're likely going to jump on the iPad bandwagon at some point in the near future. I can think of other things I'd love to spend $500 or $600 on, but oh well. :) If the iPad 3 is really coming out in March like they're saying it will, we'll likely wait until then and hope that the iPad 2 prices drop a bit. They use iPads in Dean's classroom for all sorts of activities and I love how it taps into so much that little kids can do. For sure, I will keep you posted!


Candice said...

We got Graham and I-POD Touch loaded with ProLoQuo2Go. The software has worked wonders for many Ch18 kiddos, actually encouraging them to speak. We're still in the early stages.

renee brogan said...

We just got an iPad for Jacob but haven't purchased the software yet. He also uses an augmentative communication device at school. let me just say, these kids take to this technology remarkably well and their desire to communicate is a is a huge incentive for them. Good luck, I'll let you know how Jake makes out with the prologue app.

Kimberly Bureau said...

Check with your speech therapist ours has made the recommendation for an ipad or other assistive technology and after they do their eval the state will cover it, at least that's how Arizona is.

Kevin said...

I was quite late talking, but you would have to ask others how late that was. Time and some speech therapy in second year of fourth grade made it much better. For some reason, I used to say something and then immediately repeat it in a quiet whisper. I think that I lacked confidence and had to make sure that I said something correctly.

Kim said...

Ali-the Ipad has been amazing for Mallory's language development. Let me know if you want any recommendations for apps that are great for receptive and expressive language. It is so motivating for little kids and it definitely helped her to really "get it". We got an IPad in October and that is the same month I really saw her language skills finally take off.

Ali Foley Shenk said...

Hey Kim,
Good to hear! I would love recommendations for apps!
Very exciting.
Ali :)

Kim said...

Well my favorite one for comprehension is called "Word Slapps". You said that is not really an issue for Dean right now but it is also good for just naming pictures. It will be your voice saying "touch apple" or whatever other picture out of a group of 2 or more pictures and then he touches it and it spins around and disappears if he is right. You can do it with any picture or with family members pictures, etc. Another good one for just basic requesting is called "Peekaboo barn", an animal is hiding in the barn and the barn doors don't open until you touch it and you can make Dean say "open, close, cow, duck" whatever before you let him open it. Another one for following directions is called "fun with directions". Again-more for receptive language but still great for learning. Another is "whats monkey thinking?" and you have to just name pictures that are in the monkey's head. Start with those :)

Ali Foley Shenk said...

Thanks, Kim!