For the last month, my son Ben has been using Proloquo2Go, which combines categories of words, picture symbols and photos, text-to-speech voices as well as a keyboard and a 7,000 word default vocabulary.
When you click on the iPod’s “app” screen, the owl pictured above appears alongside photos, iTunes and everything else you’d expect on an iPod.
Ben is part of a research project at Bloorview to see if Proloquo2Go increases his ability to communicate and meets his needs for a lightweight system he can carry.
The iPod itself is a perfect device for Ben – light, easy to manipulate with his small and weak fingers, and a platform he was already familiar with.
Some benefits we’ve seen are: he has photos of all his classmates in the device and suddenly we have a sense of how close he is to the other students and who he likes; he can make comments, which is how I learned he thinks I’m “cool;” he can easily ask for foods, drinks and activities he likes; he has access to a large vocabulary that includes exotic animals he loves; and we’ve been able to upload all of his Star Wars characters and their odd names, which we never had signs for.
When Ben woke during the middle of the night upset because he couldn’t find one of his characters, he could tell me it was “Hem Dazon” who was lost and we knew who to look for.
We still have a lot to learn with the Proloquo2Go, and need to work on making sentence construction easier. But we’re happy with the results: in addition to showing us he can read more than we thought, it’s enabled Ben’s personality to shine through.
Which brings me to last night. He brought me the iPod to show me that the Proloquo owl icon no longer appeared on the list of “apps.” It had vanished. I went into what my husband calls my “straight-to-panic” mode, and Ben signed that he had made the icon “go away.” When I asked if he deleted it, he nodded his head vigorously. Then he impishly signed “sorry.”
So today I have to get the researchers at Bloorview to reinstall Proloquo. I'm not pleased that Ben deleted it, and he better not do it again. But there's a part of me that's happy that he's so adept at using the iPod that he knew how. The kid has spunk!