I have told you readers a few times about the lack of communication skills that my son suffers from and thought I should elaborate this a little more.
My son has sounds that often are connected to his mood. As parents we can hear if something is bothering him (hunger, sleepiness, need to go to toilet) or if he is content at the moment. He does listen and understands simple communication like come, wait, sit and, shoes. Up until now we have tried different things to boost his communication skills but nothing has worked as good as we hoped it would. Sign language is to complicated for him, we tried PECS (Picture Exchange Communication System) which worked but was very restrictive due to the number of pictures one could carry around. After PECS we tried a small HP Ipaq pocket-PC with a program for pictures and speech synthesizer that didn’t work very well but it was what was available then.
Now times have changed. We have used a new app for iOS devices for about 6 months that is called Grid Player and it seems to work really well. Grid Player (no, the name has nothing with geocaching to do) works on most iOS devices and my son uses it mostly on his iPad. Ha also has an iPhone as a more portable version. My wife has configured Grid Player to contain pictures in categories for my son. The pictures are representation of sentences starting with “I want to..”, “I need to..” and, “I am..”. I need to give my wife credit for all the work she has done in order to get this working as for a while I had given up the hope to find anything that works well.
One moment I’d like to share is a few months ago when we were flying back from Thailand after 2 weeks of vacation. The flight is good 12 hours and that puts a bit of strain on both my son and the parents as the situation is a bit out of our control. He was sitting next to me playing around with his iPad, and looking at cartoons when I suddenly heard “I want to go to the toilet”. At first I thought he might have been pressing the button without meaning anything but I followed him to the toilet anyway. Normally he is afraid of the toilets in aircrafts but this time he didn’t hesitate, did what he needed to do and we went back to our seats. Two more times during the flight he swapped from cartoons to Grid Player and asked for the toilet. I didn’t think of it at that moment but a day later I realized that it was the first time my son “talked” to me in long, long time, if not for the first time ever. Today he talks to me almost daily when he pushes the “geocaching” or “car trip” symbol
Another gadget I just found out about in the PodCacher podcast number 406 is something called StickNFind. This is a small bluetooth button that is attached to things you don’t want to misplace. Immediately I thought of another use for the StickNFind and that to stick it to my son when we are out geocaching. As he doesn’t have a verbal communication it’s easy to lose track of him even if he’s just 20 feet away but stands so I can’t see him. This StickNFind would tell me if I get closer or further away from him when I look for him and it also has a virtual leash function that will tell me if he gets more than, for example, 50 feet away from me. Too bad it’s only available for iOS and Android devices at this moment as I really like the Windows 7.5 and 8 mobile devices and, hopefully that will change.