Monday, March 15, 2010

Now you see him, now you don't

It’s been cool to see families in the blogosphere reporting on their kids’ trials of different communication software that runs on an iPod.

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!


Wow, that is awesome! We've been wondering what might be a good app for my grandson, Ethan. He became fascinated with my daughter's itouch and we realized it is so much more manageable than the dynovox. But we haven't purchased any specific apps yet. Thanks for sharing!

I had to laugh, that's so cool he knew how to delete it. I'm scared of technology and constantly worried I may delete something from our ipod.

Often I'm secretly proud and delighted when Dimitri does something "naughty", as it shows just how much he knows.

I'm impressed with how functional the proloquo2go can be with expanding WHAT we can communicate ABOUT - Ben being able to talk about his interests (Star Wars - cool!) is important.

Can't wait for the results of the research project.

Hi Truth -- I would definitely take a look at the communication apps for the iPod and iPhone. There are a number of them now.

Emma -- I thought Ben's deleting of the software was somewhat funny until I had it reinstalled and realized last night that the last version we'd backed up was from weeks ago, and that I had hours and hours of customization to bring it back to where it was! :( AHHHHHHH! Keep us posted on how Dimmitri is doing with his iPod app. Cheers!

It always amazes me how quickly children, today, learn all this technology. It sounds like Ben has things under control. Perhaps, you could show him how to customize the application! ;)

Louise, it's wonderful that Ben has such a great functional use of the Proloquo2Go app. I especially like how he connects with the media culture, like Star Wars so he can "talk" about what interests him!

So, are you going for the iPad anytime soon? ;)

We are excited that P2G will be compatible with the iPad when it comes out next month. Eric has a dynavox right now, but it weighs more than his wheelchair, so can't be mounted effectively/safely for him. And he's really just now starting to become excited about using it again (lost that skill after his stroke last May), so we want him to always have easy access to a device. the iPod is too small for him, but we think the iPad will be perfect.
Glad to hear ben is enjoying P2G. And we'll have to keep an eye on making sure it doesn't "go away" on the iPad! We have had to go through the hours and hours of customization with the dynavox as well, as it crashes often and has had to be sent back to be completely replaced twice now. the last time, our backup wasn't up-to-date, so we had to re-do our hours and hours as well. Fun!

Hi Lloyd and Lianna -- I'm looking forward to seeing Lloyd's/Eric's experience with the iPad. I still have hours of work to go to recustomize Ben's software since he deleted it :( I'm also having trouble with uploading photos to the iPod so I can pull them into the proloquo. I'll keep you posted!

Lloyd -- I'm amazed, but not surprised, that Eric's dynavox is heavier than his wheelchair! Let me know when you get the iPad. How is Eric doing at home?