Monday, June 14, 2010
iPad and Proloquo2Go review: Max tried 'em!
I couldn't wait to tell all of you about our experiences with the iPad and the Proloquo2Go, an alternative communication app for the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad. Max's school got a few iPads, and Max was chosen to trial one for six weeks.
Max has had his Dynavox for almost two years now, and I am not the biggest fan. For one, it is clunky to lug around, and he cannot pick it up. Max uses it well at school, but we often find ourselves leaving it at home on weekends. Also, it's not hard to program but it's not the quickest. I certainly have no qualms that any of these augmentative communication devices will make Max less likely to verbalize his thoughts; whatever we can do to enable him to express himself is A Good Thing.
Let's start off with how portable the iPad is. It weighs 1.5 pounds; we were able to plop it into a lightweight case and sling it around Max's neck/shoulder. He looked so cute, like he was about to head out to the office. Max is also able to pick it up with both hands, more or less. It's is basically like a gigantic iPhone (but without the phone/camera).
The Proloquo2Go is similar to the Dynavox in that things are grouped into categories; you can use either symbols or pictures. The voice is similarly robotic, which I most definitely do not love. We trialed the Tango a few years ago. Max wasn't quite ready for it back then, but I appreciated that it had a real little boy's voice. I sure hope the next version of the Proloquo2Go has this option.
The Proloquo2Go is supereasy to program. In five minutes, I created a "Weekend folder" on Sunday with photos I'd copied from the Internet ("I visited Aunt Judy"; "I went to a park with Daddy"; "I ate chocolate ice-cream"; "I found a ladybug in my house").
The major challenge Max has with using the iPad/Proloquo2go stems from his dexterity and fine-motor issues. He is increasingly able to isolate one finger (his pointer, sometimes his middle finger) and tap with it. Sometimes he uses two fingers. But he tends to hit the screen with the edge of his nail instead of the pad of his finger, and that doesn't usually do the trick. Also, the iPad requires a light touch and Max's is on the hard side. So far, we haven't found a way to adjust the sensitivity. You can see him in the video writhing in frustration a couple of times when the tapping doesn't work, once grabbing my hand so I'd touch the screen for him.
The other challenge, which I hope is temporary, is that Max is obsessively returning again and again to the "My friends" category so he can show us his best pal at school, Caleb. As his wonderful speech therapist, Jen, told me when I visited her on Friday to learn about the iPad, "Max could sit there and do 'Max' and 'Caleb' for two hours." Yup.
Sabrina is totally jealous of the iPad. "I want you go to the store and get me one!" she wailed, piteously. We let her try it out and talk with Max on it, but she still wants one of her own. Yup. I want one too!!! Waaaaaah!!!
It's awesome how excited Max is. Anytime this weekend we'd say, "Max got a new computer!" his face would light up. Dave and I are excited, too, and that's key. For all the augmentative and therapeutic options out there, the truth is, if it's not something parents are into, it's just not going to work for a family.