The Southern California Augmentative and Alternative Communication Network... a support group for professional development, problem solving, leadership, mentoring, and training in the use of augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) to develop communication in non-speaking and minimally verbal individuals in the Southern California Region.

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Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Aeir Talk and Autism Walk

This Saturday, the Los Angeles Walk Now for Autism Speaks will be held at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena.  I wonder if we can anticipate any technology vendors at the resource fair this year...? Look for SCAAC-N at the Villa Esperanza Services booth!
Re-posted from Jennifer Wieczorek Polak's Facebook page:
Monday, April 16th, 2012
We met Joe Hill in Norfolk, Virginia last week. He had a story to tell us. He has two autistic sons who have had trouble communicating and he noticed that the world of tools for autism often overlooked a few things – aesthetics, usability, and customization, to name three. Instead of relying on ready-made utilities, Joe wanted to make something fun and cool.

Me and the boys

He created Aeir Talk. It’s an app that allows parents to create and record their own content for use in a very simple but effective method for communications. The parents record a set of verbs and nouns and add pictures of themselves or of familiar objects. When the kids need to communicate, they select a noun and a verb and press a button. The app creates a simple sentence. “I want to go outside, please” or “I want a carrot, please.”

It’s a simple program and many autistic kids use similar devices that cost a few hundred and have all the power of a pocket calculator. With the iPad, Hill was able to build a working system in a few weeks and now he and his sons use it to communicate around the house.

The app costs $1.99 and it’s already helped Joe’s two kids be a bit more responsive. It has plenty of graphical flourishes and the real value is in the customization and malleability of the vocabulary set. You can add anything you like – verbs, nouns, images, voice recordings – and its all personalized so junior feels a bit more comfortable.

In an vast app wasteland full of flashlights and fart soundboards, it’s nice to see something made with love by a father who knows what he’s doing. It’s a great teaching tool and useful for kids of all ages and abilities.

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