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Monday, November 22, 2010

Giving Thanks for Giving a Child a Voice

On this Thanksgiving, we at TapToTalk give thanks for the opportunity to help so many children communicate. We think the heartfelt words of some of their parents say what this means much better than we could.

"We love you TapToTalk! Without you we'd still be waiting on our school to get us a device, but once we found you, our son has a voice on his DS and our iPhones! Thanks!" - Carolyn Gonzalez-Galvan

"I can't afford the augmentative devices but knew I wanted something that would help (my son) since he has limited emerging language and had been non-communicative for years. This was a godsend! Thank you from the bottom of my heart!" - A Florida Parent

"I just wanted to let you know we love your product. My daughter with autism is almost eight years old and is nonverbal. She lights up with a big smile when she pushes a picture and hears the voice request something." - Sandy La Grand

"I am floored...speechless...this product is a dream come true for me and for so many other parents of non-verbal kids! Taking advantage of the technology available is amazing. Thank you for finding another tool for my son." - Heather Oliver-Hamilton

"My son is Aspergic and even though he can talk he cannot state an emotion without seeing the face that matches how he feels. So thank you, you have given my specking (little) boy a better voice." - Lee Purcell

"Thank you for helping my family by giving my son a voice when he doesn't have one." - A Canadian Parent

"This is a dream come true! I am a mother of a 9-year-old boy who has ASD. He has some speech but is not that great communicating. This is going to help him so much and it won't even point him out as different because it's a game machine that every child has. Thanks so much from the bottom of my heart for finally making my child feel average!" - Nicole Lynn MacNeil

"Since we started using the TapToTalk, he (autistic son) has been independent with communication. The first time he used this was to communicate what he wanted to eat and drink for supper. The smile on his face was amazing. He answered quickly and was rewarded with what he wanted. Since then, he has used it to tell us how he feels and where he wants to go." - Tammy Lessick

"After playing with TapToTalk in the car, she (used it to) let me know she was frustrated because she was hungry and wanted steak and a smoothie. I started to cry. It was my first actual conversation with my kid in 8 years." - Amanda Perkins

We thank all of you.Thank you, thank you, thank you!

If you have a TapToTalk idea or story you'd like us to share with other TapToTalk users, please email us at blog@taptotalk.com.

The TapToTalk Team

Sunday, November 14, 2010

TapToTalk AAC for Android

We are delighted to announce that our FREE TapToTalk App for Android devices is now available from the Android Market, complete with sample pictures and sounds.

Yes, we've added Android to our growing list of devices that run TapToTalk AAC content. You can run the same TapToTalk on Android, iPad, iPhone, iPod touch, Nintendo DS, DS Lite, DSi, DSi XL, or any PC or Mac with web access.

If you want to customize pictures and sounds for your child, you'll want to subscribe to TapToTalk Designer, the easy to use online program. It's only $99.95 a year. New subscribers can publish to any and all of our supported devices. If you're already a TapToTalk Designer subscriber, you can also now publish your albums to Android devices. No extra charge.
  • TapToTalk for Android works just likes TapToTalk for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch.
  • TapToTalk for Android is FREE in the Android Market. You can try it with real sample albums.
  • ALL TapToTalk Designer subscribers can design individualized albums for TapToTalk for Android (and iPhone/iPad and Nintendo and Web) for one low price.
  • TapToTalk requires Android 2.1 or later.
Android devices come in a wide variety of sizes. How will TapToTalk work on your particular Android device? You can find out by downloading the free TapToTalk App from the Android Market today!

The TapToTalk Team

Monday, November 8, 2010

When Should a Child Use AAC?

TapToTalk and similar products uses state-of-the-art technology to make AAC affordable. So instead of obsessing on the cost of AAC, families, teachers and SLPs can focus on what is truly in the best interest of the child.

For some parents, this leads to concerns about whether TapToTalk, or, for that matter, any AAC is appropriate for their child. Of course, we really cannot answer that (though we are often asked), because we don't know your child. We recommend that concerned parents seek out professional help from a speech-language pathologist (SLP).

But the most common concern appears to be unfounded: AAC does not become a crutch that inhibits speech development. Quite the opposite. Children who use AAC devices make more speech attempts and make more progress in their speech, especially when used as part of professional speech therapy treatment. Success with AAC helps them grasp what communication is all about, and that they can express themselves, which makes them want to do it all the more.

There are also some great online resources for parents who are concerned about using AAC, especially for very young children.

The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) web site has Basic Information About Augmentative and Alternative Communication.

Joanne M. Cafiero and Ann Meyer published Your child with autism: when is augmentative and alternative communication an appropriate option? in Exceptional Parent.

University of Northwestern Iowa published research from a master's thesis entitled Does AAC impede natural speech?-and other fears.

These and other authoritative resources can help alleviate most concerns. But nothing beats an evaluation by an SLP who knows your child.

If you have a TapToTalk idea or story you'd like us to share with other TapToTalk users, please email us at blog@taptotalk.com.

The TapToTalk Team

Monday, November 1, 2010

User-to-User: TapToTalk Album Design Tips

We get a lot of questions about designing TapToTalk albums, but our experience is that our users know more about this than we do. After all, they are designing albums for real kids to meet real life communication needs.

So here are some real users with real tips from the front lines:

Joanne Rusin O'Leary: I have been having so much fun designing my student's TapToTalk. Social interaction is a big part of a child's life. I have one screen of feelings; she loves to go over and tell her friends, "I like you you're my friend" with her TapToTalk. I also have a pic of someone getting pinched and I recorded the words "don't pinch me it hurts.

On the play screen I have a picture of a nurse and if she chooses that it goes to all the things in the dramatic play center we have set up for our doctor's office: shot, band-aid, stethoscope, etc.

Carrie Goodale Dunlap: So far we have two albums, home and school. Under the Home album we have seven categories. Play, eat, drink, go, help, bathroom, and singing (we sing a lot). Under the play category I have puzzle, books, music, animal figures, TV, and his music blocks toy (his fav toy). Under the TV and book categories I add images of specific DVDs and books that are his favorites.

Under the food category I have snacks, fruit, sandwiches, pizza, breakfast, and ice cream. I uploaded images for the specific foods he likes that go with each of those categories for him to choose. Some of those go a few "layers" deep. For example if he wants Cheez-Its he presses food, then snack, then crackers, and then the type of cracker he wants.

Under the sing category I uploaded images of his favorite songs. For songs that have parts for him to participate, I added additional images that go with them. So for Old Mac Donald he presses sing, then Old Mac Donald, then which animal he wants to sing about. I also did wheels on the bus like that so once he selects the bus, images representing the parts of the song come up and he can choose which ones he wants to sing about as we go. I did audio of all of them as well.
I will be adding a family category soon.

For school (my son is in Kindergarten), the main categories are snack, rewards, bathroom, help, therapy, and sing. Under the therapy category I put OT, PT, Speech and under each of those the specific activities that they do. I have the DSi so I went into the school and took a bunch of pictures with it of the items that he actually uses, and then uploaded them to the TapToTalk Designer website and added audio.

There is a lot more that I plan on adding as we incorporate the TapToTalk more and more into his school day. I need to figure out how to use the jumps as well.

We LOVE TapToTalk!

@moiraeve1 (via Twitter): Made pad thai, took picture, now its a food choice in my kid's TapToTalk.

Ah, yes, food is always a big hit, And the picture needs to be right!

Caroline Louise Curran: Emel (daughter) told me she wants me to make her a McDonalds album for her TapToTalk so she can order her own food. That's my job for tomorow. She just loves her TapToTalk.

Self-reliant, self-sufficient! Go for it, Emil!

So now you've heard from the real experts.

If you have a TapToTalk idea or story you'd like us to share with other TapToTalk users, please email us at blog@taptotalk.com.

The TapToTalk Team
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