February 1, 2015

Hello Blog….How I have missed you….AAC journeys

Posted in AAC, Assistive Technology, Augmentative Alternative Communication, Autism, iOS, Presuming Competence at 10:18 AM by kellyvansingel

February 1, 2015

Hello blog.  How I have missed you.

Seeing all the Facebook and tweets about ATIA2015 has made me open the wordpress!  It’s a great time to write again.  I am in my 4th semester of graduate school at BGSU.  I am doing an online masters program in Assistive Technology.   I love it so far.

On the AAC front, its once again time to re-evaluate and fine tune the current AT and AAC needs of my Gilly Bean.   When Gilly first began her AAC journey, we utilized the pediatric speech and language pathology department of C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital at the University of Michigan.  Her first device was a DynaVox Maestro funded by our private medical insurance in 2010.  It is now known as the “Take a Bath” talker.   No we don’t let it get wet, but the most often phrase it now utters is “TAKE A BATH.”  The Maestro is in the perfect and convenient location to say “Take A Bath” on the way upstairs to a beloved sensory escape of bath time for Miss Gillian.


Even with insurance funding most of the cost of the device, we were still responsible for about 20% of the cost which was paid off over 18 months thanks a zero cost zero% loan made available to families by the then singular DynaVox Corporation (DynaVox is now Tobii DynaVox after their merger).   So needless to say, though now not used as a portable dedicated AAC speech device for Gillian, it now sits as a sort of ‘extra windows workstation’ / ‘take a bath requester’ on the desk in our dining room.   It still functions well as a talker when needed, but probably more so now is a spare Facebook browser, Spotify broadcaster (great speakers for that), and email checker.  It maybe could be labeled as the first entry in our living AAC museum of sorts.  Sometimes our first generation iPad is sitting nearby getting charged up, a likely second entry soon to the living AAC museum.

When we moved to a different school district about 18 months ago, Gilly also began a center-based ABA program. Together with our school team and our BCBA/SLP, we made the switch to Proloquo2Go on an iPad mini.  The Maestro was too heavy for her to ever carry around with much ease, so we really wanted to try an AAC app on the iPad mini.  Because she had been using modified Gateway 40 on the Maestro, what I essentially did was ‘reconstruct’ her Maestro vocabulary as closely as possible based off of ‘core’ in Proloquo2Go.  She did very well with the transition and within a month, we were no longer using the Maestro, but still made it available in a dedicated location.  It gradually became the “Take a Bath” talker.

Here is a screenshot of her Maestro homepage based on Gateway 40:


Here is a screenshot of her Proloquo2Go homepage based on her Maestro page set:


For Proloquo2Go, I used 6 columns by 6 rows to result in a similar button size when the iPad was used in either portrait or landscape.   This system has been working well for her the past 18 months.   She navigates pages easily and knows the location of vocabulary.  She is brilliant at receptive ID activities, also the tacts, mands and fill-ins of her ABA program. But we are all still noticing something:  She is not reliably building two word phrases and sentences.  Most of her use of the device is still predominantly single object requests and occasionally comments.

I’ve been to several presentations about core vocabulary and language acquisition via motor planning. I’m also inspired by the emergent practice and research supporting aided language input and modeling of language by communication partners with AAC.  We are now on the search for our next and more robust core language based system for Gillian.  We are brainstorming ways to build more core based phrases and language modeling into her school and ABA program.  Stay tuned.


“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” ~Jeremiah 29:11.

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