Augmentative Communication Device (ACD)

[deleted account] ( 10 moms have responded )

My daughter has Down Syndrome and significant speech delays. Sign language has been working well for her and we both enjoy using it. She's had three speech therapists over the years and they have all offered to get an ACD for her to use. I've always turned the offer down because I feel like it could be a hinderance.
It would be something that she'd have to carry around with her all day, (and potentially lose or break), and I'm afraid it would stop her from talking or signing. Wouldn't it take longer for her to type the words in rather than just using signs?
The biggest hang-up is that she has a language all her own. She has words that only I can understand. So an ACD might be helpful in school communicating with her teachers and paras. But, it would also single her out has having something different than her peers again.
What has your experience been with these? Has your child ever grown out of it, or has it become necessary for them?

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Heather - posted on 11/27/2010

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The iPad rocks!!! so versatile, and there's a case called the OtterBox that protects it very well.

Shellah - posted on 11/23/2010

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My 5 yr. old uses an IPad with Proloquo2go for communication. He has severe verbal, oral and motor apraxia. He can say about 8 intelligible, spontaneous words. He can do about 30 signs, but not many people understand ASL so he gets frustrated. With the Proloquo2go App he can say anything he wants and is understood right away. Unlike heavy Dynavox or Mighty Mo devices the IPad is small and light weight. We used a Dynavox for 6 months, but it's was not portable. The smaller versions are ok, but complex and the voice is very robotic. With the IPad I can add a new folder or picture to fit any situation we find ourselves in in under a minute, just using the IPad itself. My 9 yr. old can add folders for her brother! We are also able to add educational Apps such as matching memory games and letter tracing. He has an IPad we purchased for him and another for school use. His friends think he is so cool and the typical peers love watching him use it and "playing" with him!
I was also nervous about our son using the IPad as a crutch and I worried it would discourage him from using his voice. I spoke with numerous speech pathologists, including some from Boston Children's Hospital who informed me that studies show children actually speak more when using an ACD. The voice is always the same and easy to understand, making it easier for a child to repeat. We have found it to be true in our son's case. The fun factor is a big help too! He feels so special and cool using his IPad :-) We still make him say everything and encourage him to always use his words in every circumstance. With Proloquo2go your child can build sentences if you want them to and play the complete sentence. It sounds complex, but it is as simple or complex as you make it. It is worth looking into if you think it may help your daughter. Check local hospitals to see if you could try out an IPad with the App.
Good luck and I hope you find what works best for your daughter. :-)

Erin - posted on 11/18/2010

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My daughter has no speech at all and does not yet have the ability to make signs, so a device is something we have been eager to get.



I would consider requesting an iPad. IPads are COOL! They are not clunky and they are not different, just wicked cool. They have tons of communication applications that your daughter can use to speak. My bet would be that if she had a way to communicate more complex thoughts, she would only want to communicate MORE than she currently does. If you google iPad augmentative communication you'll find several good apps. Look at Prologue2Go and a few others. With an iPad, your daughter can share so much more about herself.



Another cool option is to look for a touchscreen netbook style laptop. They have really durable ones called Toughbooks that can be great for kids. You can load it with software like Boardmaker Speaking Dynamically Pro. The advantage of a laptop is that it will run on Windows the same, most likely, as her school. She can use programs like PowerPoint to make school presentations, her friends can record voice-recordings so she has a voice in her PowerPoints or in her communication software.



At least with my daughter, her differences are simply there. The trick is to surround her with equipment and technology that is wicked cool. Maggie has an iPod Touch with basic communication software but its too difficult for her to use because she doesn't have good finger isolation skills. They even have apps where the person can use a sign language dictionary to translate for someone who doesn't know their sign language! With Maggie, we encourage her friends to use her iPod touch to communicate so that she sees that as rolemodeling. Maggie is 7 and her iPod is SO popular with her friends!



I would look for a device that is more than a communication system. Look for something that can help your daughter do homework and schoolwork, that she can look to for entertainment, and that is cool socially. With a laptop, maybe she could even start having a Facebook page or could start making photo presentations of her favourite activiites, family, things she did on the weekend. Think of a device that lets her easily share with other people all the things that make her who she is.



The latest generation of iPod touch has a built-in 2-way camera and microphone, which makes it MUCH easier to program communication software on. THere are many communication apps but some of them are terrible. Look for ones you can program remotely and then sync rather than programming directly on the device only. The next generation of iPads will hopefully have the camera and microphone too so we're holding out for that.



Technology can be cool. Just avoid the traditional clumsy over-priced devices that are limited just to speech. They aren't worth it. They even have communication software for the Nintendo DS! Imagine your daughter having a Nintendo DS to take everywhere to help with speech! It really can add to the coolness factor.



With my daughter, and with my Brownie troop, I focus not on the disability, but on the technology and adapatations that help people overcome disability. Maggie's wheelchair, for example, is one of her friends' favourite toys to play with. Its not a handicap, its the smoothest ride at school. Its her legs so she can run. Her iPod is not some special needs special thing, its the envy of the 2nd grade. Its really how you present the technology and which technology you choose. But I'd seriously look at the Nintendo DS or iPad for a device first. MUCH cheaper and much more fun.

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Candy - posted on 08/08/2013

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We have a Vantage Lite that we received for our 9 year old, mostly non-verbal, Autistic son a while back. It is in brand new condition and we have all the extras. This device offers a lot but sensory wise our son just couldn't handle it. We would really like to sell and use the $ to purchase in-home OT equipment and an iPad instead since he has successfully used those at therapy. Please if anyone has use for it we would consider any reasonable offer, since they are $7000+. It would be nice to replace it with something else beneficial to him. Right now it is hidden away in a closet because we know from experience that one look at it will send him into regression. Please let me know if you are interested. Thank you so much for having places like this where family's with autistic children can connect and network. My email is pcandypappas@aol.com if anyone is interested.

God bless.

Michele - posted on 11/27/2010

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My son uses an Ipod Touch w/ Proloquo2Go ...at home we do not use it often as we can communicate with him w/o any issues. When there is an issue he will get his Ipod and tell us what he is tryn to say .... we love it and it can be personlized to his needs. We actually purchased the Ipod and the school registered it in their name and gave us the program ... the only down fall is we are limited what we can do w/ the Ipod but thats okay because it has helped him a lot and we are still able to do a few extra things. So this might be something to look into ... it is much cheaper than most Communication Devices too.

Cindy - posted on 11/26/2010

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I have a son with autism ans he is currently on a waitlist for an ACD. He has some words and signs but his best communication is via his PECs book. He puts together sentences using picture cards to relay his wants and needs. He is starting to use it for commenting. The way I see it, we need to celebrate their differences and try and make them feel cool for having these things their peers don't. Having her able to communicate freely and not be frustrated when talking with other is the greater picture. Good luck!

Lace - posted on 11/23/2010

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My son has a TOBI C-8 and today he used it to start a conversation with a stranger. He also has his own language mostly sign that only family knows what he wants. The AAC would open doors for her to speak with people other than you.

Candi - posted on 11/23/2010

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my almost-3-year-old son uses a Vantage Lite, and it has been FANTASTIC for him. We have seen great improvement in sounds and word formation. Research shows that kids who consistently have sounds modeled with a computer actually do get better at speaking, which I thought was ridiculous until I actually saw it happening with my own son. At school (preschool), it was something "different," but the other kids thought it was cool, honestly, and wanted to play with it. My son also uses sign language and sound production to communicate. However, signs and sounds don't always account for everything he wants to say, and the computer also helps him to learn language patterns and reach out to the outer world. He can order what foods he might want, tell people he needs a hug, and ask to play with special toys. It's a bit of a pain to integrate into your routine at first, but if you're patient with it, you'll see really great improvements. I really can't believe how much improvement we've seen with the addition of the computer to his speech routine.

Carol - posted on 11/23/2010

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Try an IPad they are smaller, cooler and research says a great help for non-verbal kids

Virginia - posted on 11/19/2010

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Consider giving the Dynavox a try. It works with the Boardmaker system. My son's speech is difficult to understand and there's not much of it. We have tried several other strategies to get the language going (doesn't have his own but gets by with a few words, gestures, and meaningful looks) Dynavox does offer trials. I wouldn't worry about her being singled out. If she's in special education, she is already singled out. For many kids, an augmentive communication device gives them a new window on the world.

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