R. was entranced by the ipad from the moment she saw it. At first she just watched, and seemed kind of reluctant to touch it. It is a little confusing to teach her, because each app works slightly differently in terms of what to touch and if she should press or swipe. It works best if I show her hand over hand, but she prefers to watch me do it, and then use my finger as a stylus at first.
I don’t have a PECS program yet. I’m going to research it a bit before spending the money. I don’t think we will use it as a true AAC device if her language continues to progress. But I think it could still be useful. I would like to find something so that I could offer choices, like breakfast options or where she wants to go.
I’m kind of amazed how much the ipad inspires her to speak. She echoes, she labels and even a little commenting if I can count Oh no. In just a few days, she’s already used to a bit of ipad time before dinner. We forgot the other night because we had visitors, and she actually started saying ipad, ipad, ipad, totally unprompted and with it out of sight.
I’m going crazy downloading apps, trying to find ones that are good and that she will like. Many of them have intro or accompanying music that she hates. Some of the apps do have settings to turn off music and other sounds. I have to go through the apps before I show them to her.
The free flash card app My First Words by Smart Baby is helpful to show her how to manipulate things on the ipad. They are flash cards of objects in different categories of items (more categories are available for purchase). Each card shows a picture, the word and the word is also spoken. The app can be set up to automatically scroll through the cards, or manually so that the cards only advance after you touch them. I found setting it up manually really showed her how to use the ipad. She is really interested in the pictures and words, she will repeat them and it just looks like she is absorbing everything with such interest. Another neat feature about this app is that you can record your own voice for each of the flash cards.
Another free app, Z is for Zebra is helping to teach her swiping/scrolling. A screen comes up with the letters of the alphabet, and when you press one it takes you to a page with the letter in upper and lowercase and a picture of an object that starts with that letter. You can touch each letter or the object and hear the letter or word. I wish they actually displayed the word too. You can also scroll through the alphabet by swiping left or right, she really liked doing this once she figured it out. If you touch the wrong place it just goes back to the alphabet screen. Many apps have lots of buttons that when touched accidentally take you out of the app, or other places.
iWrite words was suggested by the school’s OT. The free version gives you the letters A,B,C in upper and lower case, the numbers 1-9 and a few three letter words. I upgraded this for $2.99, now we have the full alphabet, the numbers up to twenty and more words. It displays the outline of a letter, and a little crab appears at the start point followed by numbers showing the direction to write. You drag the crab through the numbers (connecting the dots) and the line shows up on the screen. After the letter is completed a copy of what is drawn shows up in the upper left hand corner, and a small box with the same letter drops down so you can either tilt or drag it to a wheel that spins and the letter disappears. It doesn’t sound very exciting, but R. loves doing this. So each letter has built in reinforcer. R. usually starts using my finger, and after a few letters she will do it herself. I wish you could select the letter or letters you want to work on instead of having to go through them in sequence. I wonder if they will come up with some ipad-friendly stylus for handwriting practice.
Color SlapPs is a free program to practice color recognition. You can select which colors you want as options, (I removed peach) and choose from one, two or three colors on the screen at a time. A voice says touch brown or whatever color is next, and when brown is touched it spins and disappears. You can choose to cycle through five or ten times, and when the round is completed two stick figure children appear and jump up and down and the sounds of cheering and applause is heard. I’m surprised how much R. likes this, she smiles at those little figures.
The Dr. Seuss interactive book apps are amazing. When you select read to me, the words turn red as they are being said. R. is so fascinated. I am too, because while she might occasionally sit through part of the ABC book, she will leave the room if I read Cat in the Hat. On the ipad, she is fully engaged with both books. She actually likes them better than the sample of a Sesame Street book I downloaded. I think it is the words lighting up red that is so engaging. Who do I have to talk to for an app for Polar Bear, Polar Bear?