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Sunday, November 20, 2011

Start with Food!

We hear from many users about their experience with TapToTalk and their children. They often tell us about how their child adopted TapToTalk, and one theme is clear: getting what I want to eat is the number one motivator for using AAC.

We could fill volumes with the quotes that back this up. Here are just a few examples, from Septemeber 2009, when we introduced TapToTalk, through this month:

"It's working great! We have introduced it to our child, and he can already request juice and Oreos." Tanya Sanders, Parent

"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, Parent

"I've been using it with him since he's been home from school...he's used it to tell me what snack he wants to eat twice and that he wants water. He's able to click on the first screen like the "I'm hungry" picture to get to the food pictures I uploaded. I searched for pictures of Lay's, rice cakes and Eggo waffles so that (there) could be pictures for what he actually is asking for. He was able to click on the "drinks" picture to take him to where he selects water." A Wisconsin Parent

"Emel 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 tomorrow. She just loves her TapToTalk. Thank you." Caroline Louise Curran, Parent

"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. She had a eureka moment when she hit the button and she ended up with a milkshake and a piece of steak. Yes! You best believe I went out to the grocery and bought her a steak after all of that." Amanda Perkins, Parent

"So excited. My 21-year-old was able to order her breakfast at a fast food restaurant today. She is very good with the iPod, so she has food, plus a restaurant level with separate menus for each restaurant. She asked for biscuit, then clicked egg. Went to drinks, and asked for large, then went to soda and asked for Coke." Katy Jean Fink, Parent

"I wanted to say thank you because it allows my non-verbal daughter to tell me her basic needs. Last night she wanted milk, and unbeknownst to me she turned the iPod on, went to the TapToTalk App, and got the milk request ready for when I came into her room! It was so awesome. I love that she can tell me things now, and your app is so easy to use." Becky Brown, Parent

"Loaded it in the evening, the next morning my little guy told me what he wanted for breakfast! He'd NEVER used a communication device before!" A Parent

"YOU have given our daughter a voice! Last week, my husband was offering our daughter several choices of cereal for breakfast, she kept pushing the boxes of cereal away. She got up, got her iPad and handed it to him to turn on. Once on TapToTalk, our daughter went to the "I want to eat" album and touched "I want scrambled eggs." My husband said, "Oh, you don't want cereal, you want scrambled eggs." Our daughter clapped her hands (what she does when we understand her) and sat down at the table AND patiently waited for her eggs to be cooked!" Susan Tarr, Parent

"I recently visited my godson in Texas. He has autism...I had heard about TapToTalk, but nothing had prepared me for his unprompted communication efforts! While his mom was out doing chores, he came to me and asked for specific food choices; I never thought I'd get to experience that with him. I was so excited I wanted to take him out to a restaurant right away to buy him what he asked for...wanted to say thanks from a grateful godmom." Lyn Johnson, Godmother

So, if you want to help your child get the hang of AAC, start with his or her favorite foods and beverages. And remember that you can use our extensive library of food and drink pictures, you can add pictures you find online, and you can use your own photos as well. Use this link to learn more about TapToTalk pictures.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Gab n Go Giveaway

In our last blog post, we shared the story of the Gab n Go Harness. Now we are teaming up with the good folks at Safe n Sound Mobile to give away free Gab n Go Harnesses. This is for those who use TapToTalk on an iPhone or iPod touch.

Here is how to enter the free drawing:
  • You must be a TapToTalk Designer user
  • You must be in the United States (sorry, it's because of the shipping costs)
  • Just email marketing@taptotalk.com with:
    • Subject "Gab n Go"
    • Include your name and the email address you use to log in to TapToTalk Designer
That's all you have to do. Then watch our Facebook posts for the drawings.

For more information about the Gab n Go Harness, go to Safe n Sound Mobile.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The "Gab n Go Harness" Story

Kristen Lazuka is a pediatric nurse who provides care for children with complex medical needs and developmental delays. Kristen created the "Gab n Go Harness" to meet the needs of a patient, an active little girl who did not have normal speech due to craniofacial deformities. She used an iPod touch with an AAC app, but it her busy personality created a problem. The iPod had to be held by her aide, who needed to remember to grab it every time the girl moved around the school, both in the classroom and out.

Kristen and the child’s occupational therapist began looking for solutions "We spent a lot of time online," Kristen said. "We knew the market for AAC apps for mobile devices was exploding, and expected to see many different products for accessible communication options. That was not the case. There were bulky speaker boxes, which were too heavy for her to put on a regular lanyard. For accessibility reasons, the armbands were not appropriate for this population of children."

An even bigger problem with using an AAC app on these devices was the lack of a solution that had a forward facing, easily heard and understandable speaker. "Communication partners were always asking us, 'What did she say?' It was very frustrating," Kristen said. Faced with with the lack of viable options, Kristen developed her own solution, the Gab n Go Harness. "I am thrilled to be able to make these already well developed devices and apps really work!" Kristem said. "The huge gap that existed is now closed, putting communication where it belongs – in the child's hands."

Kristen has a personal as well as a professional interest in AAC. She adopted her second child from Romania, and at 14 months, he was non-verbal and diagnosed with autism. By 18 months, he used both sign language as well as PECS for communication. He received his first AAC device when he was 6, and soon began speaking. "It was an amazing process to watch as he grew. He is now 13 years old and an effective verbal communicator," Kristen told us.

You can learn more about the Gab n Go Harness for iPad touch and iPhone at by watching this video, or go to Safe n Sound Mobile.

Safe n Sound Mobile is not affiliated with Assystx LLC, makers of TapToTalk. The information in this post is not an endorsement of the Gab n Go Harness by Assistyx.

Monday, November 7, 2011

TapToTalk Designer for SLPs and Schools

TapToTalk Designer is the online program you use to assemble pictures and sounds into AAC albums. Your albums can then be played on any of the many devices TapToTalk supports.

The basic version of Designer is called TapToTalk Home. It costs $179.95, and is for parents or others who want to organize pictures and sounds for one child. For SLPs, OTs, special education teachers, AAC and AT specialists and other special needs professionals and school staff who serve more than one child's AAC needs, Designer come in a Pro version and an Agency version.

TapToTalk Pro and TapToTalk Agency are priced "per child." But "per child" really means "per individualized set of AAC albums." We call an individualized set of AAC albums a TapToTalk. Typically, one TapToTalk is used by one child. For example, Johnny has his set of albums, geared to his needs. Susie has her TapToTalk albums that are individualized just for her. And so forth.

But what if several children use exactly the same content? For example, a special ed classroom my have a number of students who all use the exact same TapToTalk content on their iPads. Well, that is just one TapToTalk, one individualized set of AAC albums.

It does not matter how many devices you play a TapToTalk on. We do not charge per device. We charge for each individualized set of AAC albums you have the ability to design.

Another example would be a set of assessment albums used by a speech therapist. No matter how many kids use it, no matter how many devices it runs on, it is just one TapToTalk. But when you customize albums for a specific child, that's another TapToTalk.

New Prices
TapToTalk Pro now only $249.95
TapToTalk Agency starts at only $779.95

TapToTalk Pro is for a professional serving two or more children with individualized AAC albums. The base price is $249.95. This gives you the ability to design two separate TapToTalks. You can add additional TapToTalks to a Pro account at any time for $179.95 (the same price as TapToTalk Home), and when a Pro account reaches five TapToTalks, it automatically becomes an Agency account. Pro also gives you the ability to share pictures and sounds among TapToTalks, and save reusable TapToTalk templates you can use to help build a specific child's TapToTalk.

TapToTalk Agency is for schools that have several professionals serving several students with individualized AAC albums. The base price is $779.95. This gives you the ability to design five separate TapToTalks. You can add additional TapToTalks to an Agency account at any time for $179.95 (the same price as a TapToTalk Home). Agency has all the features of Pro, and also gives you the ability to control which staff can do design work on each TapToTalk. There are additional features to further enhance design collaboration.

For more information on the features of the three versions of TapToTalk Designer, see the Designer version comparison chart.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

A little boy's "Helen Keller Moment"

Here's a story of a little boy playing with TapToTalk on his iPod touch, who suddenly realizes he can use it to communicate. It was told to us by TapToTalk Mom Fay Bareham:

"My son is 11 years old. He has had various speech devices over the years but they have been bulky and hard to carry so it was not something he was interested in. His iPod looks just like his dad's phone. He can clip it on his belt just like Dad. It's cool to him.

"In the last two weeks, he went from just the main pages of pictures to all the ones we put in his albums. One day he had what my friend called a 'Helen Keller moment' where he suddenly realized that he was 'talking' due to TapToTalk and the small iPod. For the first time he feels as if he has a voice of his own. Now he won't let it out of his sight, if you can borrow it at all (which we do so we can take more photos).

"TapToTalk has made for several moments of HAPPY tears for us. Thank you for all of your help, and for helping us get the school on board. Consistency between home and school will make a HUGE difference."

That's why we do what we do.

Update: we recently heard from Fay again. She said, "Every day his world is getting larger due to TapToTalk and his iPod."
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