Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Augmentative and Assistive technology with Proloquo2Go, the +'s & the -'s from a Parent Perspective

Due to some awesome new apps, kids with Autism are now having access to inexpensive augmentative and assistive technology through companies like proloquo2go and good karma applications. In the past devices that spoke for children who were non verbal ran between $5000 and $10,000 and had to be covered by school districts and insurance. They were time consuming to get paid for and unfortunately were not user friendly or parent friendly. Parents were dependent on Speech Therapists to program the devices. They were also huge. It was like carrying a mini lap top with you at all times.

Today that has changed; unfortunately most school districts and insurance companies will not cover an iPhone or an iTouch because those are considered luxury items and not tools for communications. You can get the proloquo2go covered by flex spending if you have it. You can not get the iTouch or iPhone covered.

I have found some down sides to the iTouch, for one the games! The games are great to help with the fine motor, but they are also a distraction, Austin would much rather play games then use the device as a communication device. At school they are seeing much more success then we are.

The next issue is there is really no great case for the iTouch to protect them from a kid with Autism. Trust me I have bought many and I have not found any case that comes close to the OtterBox for the iPhone. I honestly hope the Otter Company takes the iPhone design and adds an external speaker to it. It would be a god send to our community. For that matter it would be great for anyone with young children who just use the iTouch for games.

The last issue will hopefully be resolved with the latest addition of the iTouch in the fall. It is the lack of a camera. One of the awesome differences between the $5000-$10000 and proloquo2go is the ability to make a talking PEC at a moments notice. Literally I , the parent, are not dependent on a speech teacher, I don’t need a computer or fancy program, I can make a new icon in under 5 minutes.

So after talking about these concerns with my friends who do not have a child with Autism, I was offered my friends old iPhone for Austin. She is giving me her phone and I am going to separate Austin’s toy from his Speech device. We will only have proloquo2go and First Then on the iPhone. On his iTouch we will have all the games he knows and love and it can be a much valued toy like I discussed in my April 10, 2010 blog.

We further discussed figuring out a way to get old, but working iPhones donated for local San Diego families who can’t afford them. My friends at PSHelper have generously offered to offer 40% off any plugin on their website when you send your used iphone or itouch to us to give to kids in the San Diego area with Autism. Use code "donate40" at checkout, they will contact you shortly after your order is received. There is no bigger generous offer then someone who can give the gift of speech to a child with Autism. This cuts the cost in half for parents who already pay so may expenses out of pocket, things that insurance does not pay like Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, ABA, RDI, Biomedical, the list goes on and an on.

By donating your old iPhone or iTouch to PSHelper, not only can you earn a discount you can help a child with Autism access his or hers voice through assistive technology and help parents who can’t afford such technology on their own.

I would encourage you all to PITAup and ask the same thing of your local friends who do not have a child with Autism to donate their old iPhone or iTouch to a child with Autism. Maybe we could make this project nationwide and make the gift of speech nationwide! So go out and PITAup, change the life of a child with Autism, the life you change, just might just be your own!!!

*Please note any links that are in green and underlined twice are being linked by the blog, and are not being linked by me and do not represent anything I am promoting.*

1 comment:

  1. How kind of PSHelper! That is wonderful that they are willing to help kiddos they don't even know. My kind of people! By the way, just released my new app. yesterday. Let me know if you want to check it out.