My son is 26. He has autism and is completely nonverbal. He'll be along soon with his own testimonial. His words are precious and he chooses them carefully.
As one of his facilitators, I just want to say a few words about how much we love this app. We have only tried two others, one free of charge and the other at only $9.00 , so I cannot speak to the effectiveness of any pricier apps. I only know that my son has expressed a distaste for any AAC that relies on line drawings. They bring back memories of ineffective, inefficient communication systems forced upon him by long-ago schoolteachers who seem to have had some kind of inappropriate investiture in them. I'd better not say any more about that. On to the good stuff!
This developer does not assume that all of the users are little kids, or that all facilitators are elementary school teachers. Boy, doesn't that make me mad when I have to plow through that attitude in order to meet a need!
Customizable ~ crucial, and this app has it. We use photos, not meaningless drawings, with one exception. For my son, pain is a frequent companion and wreaks havoc with the ability to communicate effectively. So I made a graphic with the word "pain" in big letters so that he can go right to it. But if every cell was simply text, they might all blend together or swim on the screen. So, for everything else, we add images that are appropriate to him. We can grab commercial images right off of the internet so that if, for example, he wants a specific restaurant's french fries, he can tap a picture of that restaurant's french fry packaging. Not a drawing of a french fry that might as well be a human toe or a stick of firewood. This is something the commercial AAC creators have never been able to do, because of copyright restrictions. You or I can pop in an image for personal use without fear of breaking the law. Every screen is reflective of his life and his conversational needs. As his life progresses, so can the boards we add.
Intuitive ~ I don't know how many testers you have had up to now, but they have served you well. The app seems to anticipate every scenario.
Flexible ~ My son can label everything with text that reflects his own personality. We can put in any picture we want, from any source. For us, that means grabbing things off our Facebook pages, out of our desktop computer, the ipad photo album, or creating them on the fly. Adding audio is just as easy. We can use one of the voice generators we have purchased for older communication methods, or we can use one of the many free voice generators that are available online. Someone can speak directly into the ipad microphone, or helpers can email MP3 files. That last is my favorite because now, friends and family can help help enrich my son's capabilities. It brings us all closer! Because my son does not live with me, I have the option of creating his boards online. Then I can text his housemother to sync from their end and voila ~ he has his new content and doesn't have to waste our visits waiting for me to hook him up.
Affordable~ 20 years ago we sat on a waiting list for a multi-thousand dollar piece of equipment that was ugly, painfully heavy to carry, scary to others, and did not meet his needs. Never again.
Personal service ~ because I did not stop to read the manual, I made a bonehead mistake right off the bat. Imagine my surprise when the inventor of the app answered my online query very soon after I had posted it. He had me back in business quickly and kindly!
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