by Robin Parker & Carole Zangari
We wanted to take a break from our holiday wishes to reflect on the year and to offer up some words of appreciation. For us, 2011 started with our version of a retreat: a long walk in the sun, a half day of venting our frustrations and a half day of planning new projects interspersed with lunch at the beach. (There might have been a bottle of wine in there somewhere, too.)
We'd both been feeling more than a bit discouraged that the quality of AAC services is still so spotty. There are some fantastic SLPs and teachers, of course, but not enough to go around. The 'good ones' are too busy. And the not-so-good ones were doing too much damage. It seemed to us that too many folks with significant communication challenges weren't getting what they needed and that stressed us out to no end. Just when we had calmed down, we got yet another (!) call from a family with a 14 year old nonverbal kid who had never had any decent AAC. Really, people?! No one could have helped this kid in 14 years?!! Rant resumed.
We'd eventually settle down from that and then something else would happen. Maybe it was visiting a classroom or getting a referral from an SLP who doesn't 'do' SLP because she wants to work on speech. Grrr! The stomach acid would start churning all over again.
You get the picture; It's nothing new to most of you. Anyway, we needed to do some serious venting before the creative juices could neutralize the stomach acid. The walk helped us burn off the aggravation and the wine helped us regain our sense of perspective (well, sort of).
By the end of the day we had resolved to do things differently. And so began a set schedule of collaborative exploration, learning new technologies, some new vocabulary (in social media and visual literacy), and lots more. Glued to the computer at all hours of the night. Texting each other when we struck gold. Knowing that all this was eventually going to lead to something but without much of an idea of what that 'something' was going to be.
Sunday, December 25, 2011
Gift: iPad App- Play School Art Maker.
How we found it: It was found on the Spectronics blog through Ian Bean's post on December 21, 2011.
About the App: Designed for children to create picture scenes, animated movies and story slide shows using a variety of backgrounds and images. It is based on an Australian children's television show that encourages spontaneous and symbolic imaginative play. Children choose a background and tap and drag images into the 'scene' to create a story. A story can be created in a few ways. It can be created using one picture slide and animating the items on the page to make the story. The story can also be created by using up to 8 animated picture slides to create a clear sequence events for the story. All stories can be saved and shared. The customized options include importing backgrounds from a photo library as well as on-going choices for image selection and animation.
Learning Langage: There are many opportunities for choice making, commenting, as well as story or narrative development. Sentence building, sequencing, and even movie making can also be the goal depending upon how the language facilitator structures the activity. Specific language learning best happens when modeling, visual supports for active participation, prompting, language expansions, and positive communication reinforcement is provided. The app provides some level of prompting for participation through sound cues if choices for backgrounds or images are not made. There is also positive reinforcement throughout completion of steps within the story making process.
at 8:08 AM
Friday, December 23, 2011
Wednesday, December 21, 2011
Saturday, December 17, 2011
We have been using Diigo / Digest of Internet Information) ever since a great presentation by Speech Techie/Sean Sweeny. I had tried it out about a year previously but obviously did not understand enough about web 2.0 yet. Well, now I realize what I had been missing and I keep discovering more benefits. So here are just some of the things we love
What I love Diigo:
- Love creating lists with categories and sub-categories of topics to organize the weblinks I find while searching. Just 1 click and saved.
- Love sharing a link with a colleague when they request information on a topic that I have talked about. There is no cutting and pasting several different URL's.
- Love designating some lists public while others are private.
- Love creating groups (which I just started doing). Now, I can share my Diigo PrAACtical AAC- Random Apps of Kindness to alert everyone when I hear about a discounted or free app. I can do this faster than uploading everything to blogger
- Love receiving immediate alerts when any changes are made to a group topic.
- Love the suggested tags
- Love the Extra's
at 11:42 PM
Thursday, December 8, 2011
More good news about organizations offering giveaways. The iTaalk Autism Foundation will be giving away 7 iPads to children and youth with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) who live in northwestern Ohio and southeastern Michigan. They are accepting applications until December 15th and will select winners randomly from the pool of eligible applicants.
We’ve had a lot of fun playing with TouchChat, an AAC app that gives more than a casual nod to core vocabulary. We love the robust language and organizational system it uses, and the possibility of editing pages on the computer. The folks at Silver-Kite are giving away 5 copies of TouchChat HD between Dec 19-23.
Tuesday, December 6, 2011
It feels awfully strange being a newbie again. We’re certainly not new to AAC. And we’re not new to talking about it either, having worked with families, graduate students, and other professionals for more than two decades. But, somehow, this whole blogging thing and sharing our thoughts with the wider world in this way seems a bit daunting. Nevertheless, it’s time.
at 7:05 PM