Saturday, November 6, 2010


Proloquo2Go will soon be the latest rage in Makita's household.

F1-2 is totally, entirely non-verbal, which isn't exactly easy. Not being able to speak is not the same as not having anything to say.

F1-2 (like his parents) is often frustrated when he clearly has something to say, and we don't understand him. A few things have recently come together to allow us to take a gigantic leap in our interaction with him.

1. Since the Summer of 2009, F1-2 has discovered the wonderful world of computing, and he's quite good at it. We have a Netflix account and he can navigate to his favorite episodes of Blue's Clues (still his favorite, 8 years and counting). More than that, even with his limited fine motor skills he can navigate to his favorite part of each episode with remarkable ease. We've been looking for ways to use his skills in innovative ways, but never found anything that was quite right.

2. We started using a picture-based system called PECS to communicate with F1-2. It was a great idea, but there were some snags in the implementation. When we started our youngest, F1-3, thought there was nothing funnier than hiding the pictures that were attached to a board on the wall with Velcro. Later on, F1-2 caused problems himself.

When he wanted to use the computer, he would hide all the pictures except the one for "computer".

Of course, the pictures got crumbled, sucked on, lost, flushed down the toilet, you name it. And when the pictures aren't available the whole communication system just falls apart.

On the good side, F1-2 would very quickly pick up on the meaning of newly introduced pictures. We were running out of space, there were too many pictures. And we couldn't get very specific with the pictures either. We only had enough room for "drink", but couldn't ask "water" or "juice". We couldn't keep up with his increasing "vocabulary. This is a good thing.

3. The makers of Proloquo developed a portable version called Proloquo2Go to be used with the iPod Touch. Within a few months it was a big, big hit, being used for many children with communication issues. Extremely portable, lots and lots of pictures were possible, a huge leap. Not perfect though. The screen is small, so it's sometimes hard for children with fine motor skill issues (such as F1-2). Also, the volume isn't quite high enough to allow the iPod to "speak" for the child.

4. Apple came out with the iPad.Wow! It's a humongous iPod. Large screen, much louder, still very portable. Amazing!

So, a training, and several hundred dollars lighter, we're expecting an iPad and a couple of iPods next week. The iPad is mainly for use at home, the iPod for on the road. The Otterbox has been ordered to prevent major damage to the iPad. You wouldn't believe how excited I am, and how much I'm looking forward to hear what F1-2 has to say.