Positive Responses in the Community via AAC

This afternoon I took the boys to Walmart (a mistake, but a quick trip, I promise!), to a restaurant and our favorite ice cream parlor (Carmen & David's in Lancaster - THE most AWESOME ice cream EVER, I swear!)

Nathan was starting to get grouchy, I'm pretty sure from the discomfort from a fairly large burn (front of thigh from nearly top to bottom, don't ask :_(  We're all unhappy about it.)  We did what we had to do in about 15 min and left.  But he got grouchier from there.

I just got a new augmented alternative communication (AAC) app, Avaz which I *just* loaded on the iPad today and grabbed to take along.  I did a few adjustments before I left, but did much of it on the way.  I even had Sam add over a dozen icons while we were in the car.  So.  Easy to use?  Yes, very.  I'll blog on the app later in the month (I only get it for a month, so we'll see.)

I knew Nathan didn't feel good, so I showed him the app.  I put him in the feeling category I had added.  And he put :

 Wow, not what I was expecting.  He put it in again later, when we were at the restaurant.

I gave him 2 Tylenol and we drove on.

When we were at the restaurant, he chose coke and PB&J.  I had him put it on the app and show the waitress, who was very impressed.  He had to type the peanut butter and jelly part.  The app puts in icons over the words, which is a bit strange.  He spells phonetically, so it was 'penut' which had no word.  But then 'butter' had a stick of butter over.  And 'jelly' had jelly beans.  We all got a giggle out of imagining a sandwich with jelly beans.

He went on to play with it a while.  Replaying the 'throat hurt' and then asking for belly presses.  I quick added a category for sensory with 'squeezes', 'pinches' (something he likes on his arms), and 'pressure' and copied the body parts that Sam had added into this category.  Easy Peasy.  He asked for 'belly pressure' over and over until his food came.  I saw a gentleman at a nearby table watching, listening and smiling approvingly.

Approval doesn't happen often when we're out.  He also had some screaming and self-biting, which others perhaps didn't find as pleasant.  Oh, well.  Welcome to my world.

After the meal was done, we were waiting for the check.  Nathan grabbed the iPad and put in this:

We next walked to Carmen & Davids and he verbally ordered this:

Orange sherbet, with hot fudge, of course.

I'm not saying that Avaz made us automatically lovable.  It helped me understand what he felt a lot better.  It didn't make him feel ALL better.  He was still grouchy.  His brothers were still irritating (to me too!)  His healing burn is itchy and painful.

But he got out what he was thinking, which is amazing and awesome.

And it gave people a touchstone with him.  People love technology.  They love seeing it used for near-miracles like giving non-verbal children speech.  I think also it put out to them that he was not just a weird kid who bit himself, but a child with a serious communication issue.  So not only did it serve a very useful (and totally worth it) communication function, but it was almost like a handicap parking tag, alerting people that he has more special needs than they might otherwise realize.


  1. I love how the iPad has opened up our kid's worlds in the way we can instantly download an AAC app and it is right there at our fingertips. Also, an iPad is so well know and very socially acceptable. I downloaded GoTalkNow last night and am setting it up for my boy.


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