Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Raindrops on Roses and Whiskers on Kittens

One of my favorite things about the iPad is that it brings a whole new world of “age appropriate” leisure activities to people with more significant disabilities.  There are many conversations to be had around “age-appropriate” and what it means, but this is one tool that can help put that conversation to rest for at least a little while. The iPad is appropriate for a wide variety of ages, and thanks to the wide world of wonderful programmers and their interest in everything from farts to classical music, there are a large number great cause and effect apps out there for folks with significant disabilities.  (Most programmers probably had no idea we’d hijack their apps for this use, but I thank them any way!)

So without further ado some of my favorites!

Big Button Box (Pro, HD, etc)$.99-$2.99
Category- Lifestyle
for iPhone, iPod touch and iPad
Love this!!  Some may find a few of the sounds inappropriate depending on the age group but my son (turning 23 this weekend) and one of my teenage clients love it!  I am using the iPhone/iPod version on my iPad and it works fine although every once in a while the 1x button does get hit shrinking the App.  I’m not sure it’s worth the extra $2 to upgrade to the HD version but maybe next paycheck!  You can set it up to play one sound at a time or several.  I prefer one at a time and it is like having a whole bunch of “BIGmacks” http://www.ablenetinc.com/Store/tabid/205/Default.aspx?CategoryCode=105 programmed with really cools sounds!
http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/big-button-box-pro/id346513173?mt=8#  



Balls $1.99
Category- Music
for iPhone, iPod touch and iPad
Turn it on and it responds to iPad movement and even more dramatically when you simply touch your fingers randomly to the screen.  The faster you move the faster the music!
http://iotic.com/i.balls/
video



Doodle Buddy $.00-$.99
Category- Lifestyle
for iPhone, iPod touch and iPad
Easy, kid-friendly drawing program, very similar to the all-time favorite Kid Pix.  Great sound effects, large tool bars, and minimal distractions. 
http://www.pinger.com/content/home.html

video
Enjoy!

Getting to the Core of Communication.

This post is dedicated to Patty Cassidy, who made me a believer to the core!

A quick post so I can throw up a couple of screen shots of my current Proloquo2Go project.  As you may know I love my iPad! I recently responded to a post on the P2G website about using a core words type of set up with P2G but couldn’t attach a picture. So I said I would write a blog post about some of the work I had been doing with a preschool student and the iPad as an AAC device.  There are lengthy discussions to be had about the iPad and P2G or any of the other communication programs as AAC devices, but for the sake of this post let’s just say, that proper and ongoing evaluation, a team approach, and a realistic look at the many, many intricate factors of language, communication, social development, and more are all vital.  First and foremost however is that people can COMMUNICATE!!
I am a big believer in the use of core words and in teaching AAC users how to wring the maximum amount of conversation and information out of the minimum of real estate and symbols.  For some excellent resources check out:
http://www.asha.org/Publications/leader/2009/090414/f090414c.htm Great article about core words
http://www.aaclanguagelab.com/other/core-vocabulary   Great intro to Core Words, designed for the Unity System used by PRC devices, but great ideas that can be modified to be used with any system.
http://www.vantatenhove.com/showgroup.php?id=43  The handouts section from Gail Van Tatenhove’s site. 
So, now that you have read all of these resources, and learned about core words, here is what I have done with P2G.  Look at each board and try to figure out how many sentences you can make without even leaving the board.  The number goes up exponentially by branching to one of the categories and coming right back to the main board.  What are some of the sentences you made?
The main board that P2G opens to.
   I like it.  I like you.  I want it.  I want go.  Do you want it? Do you like it?  Do you get it?  I get it.  You get it.  Go get it.  Go see.  Go see it.  It. Not It. Do it. Stop It.  Do it again.  Shall I go on?

The Aquarium board, under places. 
The Play Doh board, under "play."
I see a turtle.  I see crab.  I see jellyfish.  Fish swim.  Penguins don't swim.  Sharks eat fish.

I want Play doh.  You cut Play Doh.  I squish it. Don't squish it.  Make it thick.  Make it again. Roll it again.  Don't do it.  etc.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

These are a few of my favorite apps!

Okay, so I've taken some time off, but after a friend made me watch "Julie and Julia" I feel motivated to write again. Okay, she didn't force me to watch it, but I have this thing about Meryl Streep. Anyway, I have been totally obsessed with my iPad, this technology has the power to change the world! I am fascinated with looking for Apps, considering whom they work for, why, and what else needs to be done to improve accessibility. Other than the obvious lack of switch interface (which I know RJ Cooper is working on) I have found it to be amazingly durable and useful for a wide variety of students.

A not so quick aside: On the topic of switch access, I often hear, “Well, it’s a touch screen, why would you need a switch?” Many of the students I work with can activate the touch screen, but due to their physical challenges cannot see the screen in a location that they can actually activate it. Imagine having the one area of your body that you can control being your toe or your chin; you may be able to activate the iPad with it, but not see what you are doing. For some of my students this is still wonderful as there are tons of great music and cause and effect Apps! Usually these students struggle to activate the screen with accuracy also. “Why use an iPad then, when there are other tools already adapted?” Well, the iPad is awesome! The iPad is light, easy to carry, has WiFi and 3G (optional) access, an excellent high def screen, and thousands of fairly cheap apps. It is something very approachable already has multiple Universal Design and Access features and has tremendous battery life.

Anyway, I thought I would share with you some of my favorite, and on occasion, total fail, purchases and freebies from the App Store!

Today’s selection: Make Dice by hnm
Price: currently on sale for $.99 usually $2.99 (8/12/10)
Dice games are very popular in the classroom, and I have made more than my share of paper dice, put stickers on wooden or plastic dice, and used the dice in Intellitools or other computer based tools. Real dice for kids with gross or motor impairment, attention issues, or mouthing behaviors are very challenging; I love the concept of these! Still a motor component, still a sound, and this App allows you to create your own custom dice. Make them for story starters. PT/OT routines, language games, sight word activities, “Simon says” games, the possibilities are endless! Another option that does not offer the customization but has standard number dice and is free is MotionX Dice HD, great for Yatzee, no dice rolling off the table, although I find the randomization a little suspect sometimes.
Let me know what you make with it!