Monday, May 23, 2011

The world of AAC: Dynavoxes and other Communication Devices

One decision families are faced with in their journey is that of Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC). AAC includes all forms of communication (other than oral speech) that are used to express thoughts, needs, wants, and ideas. On the electronic side of things there are a few devices out there for consideration, most notably the Dynavox.

Please know that we are not that well versed in many of these devices to make much comment about it at all. We do not have one in our house. If you are considering a Dynavox and an iPad - I would say there is no clear winner generally, it is dependent on circumstance. Here are some thoughts that can help in guiding you through some important questions to ask if making this choice:

1) Exposure before you purchase: Have the child try the technology first. You may find someone with an iPad - but finding the specific software communication package may also be a challenge. If you live in the Syracuse area, please contact me if you would like to try an iPad. Dynavox has a rental program: For more information, click here.
2) Durability: Consider that Dynavox has been around a lot longer than the iPad - the hardware has a proven track record of durability and responsiveness. However, in the years time that iPad has been out - there have been few complaints, but it still does not have the history to give a definite conclusion. Consider that tgere are few complaints, and there is a manufacturer that makes something called an Otterbox that is a very strong case to support the iPad.

3) Technical Support: Dynavox will be able to provide specific assistance about a lot of the facets of their device. This device was designed very specifically to be used as a communications device. The iPad is a generically designed device - so they cannot guide you on the software apps you may purchase. We have no working knowledge of how a company such as Proloquo2Go can provide the same service. However, in our basic interactions with the software companies that write apps for the iPad, they appear to be open to feedback and suggestions, so likely will be there for tech support.

4) Cost: The Dynavox is significantly more expensive than the iPad. However, it may be easier to get assistance in funding one. (Medicaid or insurance funding)

5) Experience: Consider the team that will be supporting your child. Are they well versed in the use of a particular device? Expertise could make a world of difference. Continued use of either device is strongly dependent on the support their team and family offer on using it.

6) Purpose: Is the purpose of the device to be AAC only? Are you interested in other applications that go beyond AAC?

7) Child's Strengths and Needs: Consider how your child would like to work with the device. Some ASD kids often find the concept of communication device an aversive in general since it is a skill that is so difficult for them. Would having a device that has games and other applications cause the child a distraction in using it as an AAC? Or would it help to motivate him in using the device for many needs and interests?

Some other links to check out when looking at other families make this decision:

We look forward to our members commenting on their experiences. Good luck!

Friday, May 20, 2011


If you, as an individual or an organization, are interested in a presentation, please contact us. E-mail Us! We have been contacted by a few organizations to do presentations this fall.

I had told a few people that there would be a presentation at EFR this summer -- we were just informed that they have decided not to do any workshops for the summer. Sorry for the inconvenience! If we find there is a demand for a presentation prior to the fall, we will try to find a suitable organization that would be willing to host us for the presentation

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Capacitive Stylus

We just picked up a capacitive stylus for the iPad. The intent is to help with hand writing skills. The particular stylus we picked up is the BoxWave Capacitive iPad Stylus (purchased from for $15). It is about the size of a pen and has a rubber tip that provides some resistance against the iPad's smooth glass surface. It definitely works as advertised. I'll update this post once we see how well it works for the kids.

Update: My six year old has taken to this device without any problems. With a bit of well targeted practice, I think it will help immensely with her handwriting skills. My four year old also has no problem using the device, but I don't think he's made the connection as to why it may be useful.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Congratulations to this Month's Winner!

Congratulation to Elise J. who was this month's winner in the FREE app drawing. Elise received Mobile Education's Story Builder. Tell your friends to join us either here or on our facebook group for their chance to win an app!

From their website: "Story Builder is designed to help children accomplish the following goals: 1) Improve paragraph formation; 2) Improve integration of ideas; and 3) Improve higher level abstractions by inference. Extensive use of audio clips promotes improved auditory processing for special needs children with autism spectrum disorders or sensory processing disorders. Story Builder offers a rich and fun environment for improving the ability to create a narrative."

Friday, May 13, 2011

Temporary Free App: Alphabet Skills

From the developer:
A beautifully designed Alphabet ABC learning app for kids and their parents! Kids learn their ABCs and animal together. Kids love it for its fun, parents love it for its clean design and attention to detail.

Macworld review 4 out of 5 Mice!!

“Packed full of wonderful design, humor and learning this is by far the best ABC app on the iTunes App store to date. -


Sunday, May 1, 2011

Monthly Drawing for a Free App

Please Join our Facebook Group or Follow this Blog. Those who sign in and follow our blog or join our facebook group are eligible for a monthly drawing for a free app!

April's Winner of a FREE APP will be announced soon!