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Monday, April 25, 2011

A Call for Research--"My child no longer needs AAC"

At TapToTalk, we often hear from our customers when it is time to renew their TapToTalk Designer subscription. One of the reasons that a customer does not renew is that their child is now able to communicate without the need for AAC.

Or, as one TapToTalk Mom wrote us, "My son has no further use for this way of communication as he now is quite verbal and talks non-stop!"

Certainly, we all would love this outcome. But how often does it occur? For what kinds of non-verbal conditions (other than the injuries that create short-term speech loss)? Are there factors that point to this outcome and can be used predictively? Are there associated factors that, when accompanied by portable, socially acceptable AAC, lead to independent speech?

As an AAC vendor, we respect every customer's privacy, and we only know their experiences when they choose to tell us. What we know tends to be highly anecdotal and superficial. That said, we hear from parents, like the mom quoted above, often enough to say that there are a surprising number of children who appear to be unable to express themselves verbally without AAC and, a year later, are speaking independently. How do we know it's a year? Because TapToTalk Designer is an annual subscription, and we survey those who do not renew. That is often when we hear about this.

We're not going to try to quantify this phenomenon because our data are not scientific. Rather, we suggest that this is ripe for some serious academic research, especially now that affordable AAC apps on standard devices (like the iPad and Nintendo) have put AAC into the hands of so many more people. We'd be glad to cooperate with such research.

Parents and professionals, if you know of someone who is interested in doing this kind of research, please make an introduction. Researchers, we’re here and ready to assist.

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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