Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Progress report on communicating with the iPad

Watching Maya with SfY has been really amazing.  I've spent a good amount of time reading research and learning things like:
  • When starting with AAC, keep it light and fun, no pressure 
  • Don't ask her to label items, foster actual communication about the items instead
  • In the beginning, a lot of communication will likely be food-driven (or, in Maya's case, milk-driven.  Little milkaholic.)

I've resisted the urge to push, which has been difficult.  We have this amazing thing!  We should dive into it! We should open words and build full sentences and work on grammar and oh-does-she-even-know-pronouns? and should we start showing her the keyboard and how to spell her name and . . . . well, you see.  My brain gets away from me. 

I want to run towards the water and jump in and swim laps and splash.  But Maya is 3.  She wants to sit on the steps with her feet in the water.  And I've been respecting that.  (Well, mostly.  You'll see in one video that I draw a line and make her practice turning on the iPad before we read some books, and in the other I try to show her the "stickers" button.  I'm starting to push, respectfully.)

In this video, Maya shows how she's learned to turn on the iPad, and we talk about reading:

In this picture, you can see one of her favorite things to say (the top sentence bar shows her word history): want-want-want-want-want etc. 

This video shows an exciting development: this week she's started to explore the vocabulary on the app.  She likes tapping her way around, visiting her favorite words and finding new ones.  It's a big step---one that shows she is definitely interested in an unprompted way---and I'm really excited to see it starting. 

Also, at the end of the video I included a clip of how things aren't all perfect. There are plenty of moments that don't pan out all that well. I thought that this is important to see in case any other parents of potential AAC users are watching and thinking "Oh, Maya does this perfectly and my kid couldn't." Well, Maya's not perfect (and neither am I), and we're learning together. 

Also, here's what Maya's teacher had to say on Monday: "Maya has gotten a lot more accurate with pointing to what she wants on the iPad"  Woo hoo!


Joyce said...

Great Job, Maya! :)

Bea, OT said...

It looks like she's exploring and finding her way around. It really looks like she's going to get really good at it.

Just some unsolicited advice from a well meaning OT.

It might be better to position her right in front of the IPad, so the accuracy of her pointing will improve. I realize she was eating, so you might already be doing that.

It might also help to place the iPad on a 4 inch binder with Velcro. This would help place her in the optimal position for fine motor tasks. In this way she could also rest her elbow on the table, which would increase wrist control.

Fine motor control begins with the trunk, so good seating and appropriate table height will help too.

With this set up, Maya can concentrate on learning the app and using it to communicate. Otherwise, her brain has to juggle learning language, learning an app, and improving fine motor at the same time. That's much harder.

Maya may also find it frustrating, which would delay progress.

For improving fine motor, she could do easier apps. My son loves Alpha Baby. You can actually add your own pictures and you can record your own voice. You start with just touching the screen, but then you can change the size of the picture, or flick it to move it all over the screen. At the same time she could learn new vocabulary. It's less pressure, but still fun learning. You could take pictures of her favorite things...this might motivate her to practice.

I hope that's helpful. Remember to have fun, it's a great motivator for both parent and child. I know it is for me and my son.

Usethebrains Godgiveyou said...

My son had a severe language delay. The first words that gave him power were "I want..." It started off with "I want to go to a movie". The whole next week was "I want a cookie", "I want juice", "I want park", I swear it was I want, I want, I want for the next week and we finally said..NO, you can't have it!! I imagine it's scary for Maya, but giving words power will make her more likely to use them again. I know our son had us hoppin' for a while!

Unknown said...

What app are you using?

Dana said...

The app is called Speak for Yourself.