We sometimes don’t realize the little things we take for granted. Like having a say, a voice, vast vocabulary, and the opportunity to make choices. All qualities that Danny unfortunately does not possess. With a limited vocabulary and conversation capabilities that extend only as far as answering yes and no questions, communication as you can imagine is extremely difficult. Sure, Danny has had experience with the chunky oversized temperamental Dynavox Mt4 augmentative communication device, but nothing compares to the world of opportunity the iPad offers at the mere touch of a screen, literally.
With augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) apps such as TaptoTalk, Danny’s communication flourishes. Similar to the Dynavox, TaptoTalk allows family members to set up folders with both commands and “wants” essentially, by using pictures accompanied by voice dictations of the word. For example, if Danny is hungry and wants to go to his favorite diner “Taby’s” for a plate of fries, we no longer have to read tell tale signs of hunger on his face and assume its french fry depravation! He can simply press tabs that say “I am Hungry” with a picture of him eating, and then move along to “I want to go to Taby’s,” with a picture of the restaurant. Simple, efficient, and miraculous. Now Danny not only has a voice, but a choice. And we don’t have to drag out that bulky Dynavox and pray there is an outlet close by.
Aside from the AAC TaptoTalk, which undoubtedly is the most useful and important application the iPad can offer Danny, there are other benefits to this wonder pad. As you may or may not know, many Autistic children have a need to “stim” or focus on some act, usually physical, and repeat it multiple times to establish balance, clarity, and comfort. Using games on the iPad, such as memory, Danny’s “stims” have become a lot more productive and mind engaging. We are anxious to try out other educational applications like First Words and iWrite Words to see if they have a similar effect.
All these benefits prevail, on top of the classic functions equip with most iProducts, including the ability to watch movies and listen to music. These two past times are Danny’s favorites. The large screen allows Danny to enjoy his favorite movies, like “The Little Giants” and “Richie Rich” comfortably while in transit. And when he craves sensory stimulation to calm his nerves and subdue his tics, he has his entire music library at his fingertips. We are extremely proud of Danny’s accomplishments with the iPad and simultaneously impressed by his ability to pick up the functionality so quickly.
Most importantly it has given us, his family, a chance to communicate easily, often, and efficiently with our favorite little guy. There is nothing more valuable in this world to us than this. The iPad and accompanying applications have brought us miles closer to Danny, and for that we are entirely grateful and even more so, excited for the future.
-This article was written directly by Danny's sister Kristina.