It’s important that your child quickly develop ownership of his device and learn to keep it near him. When he is away from you (e.g., at school), teachers and staff will not always remember to bring his device or keep it near him. For this reason, your child needs to learn to carry his device with him when moving from room to room, out in the community, or at school.
Most devices will include a carrying strap that can be worn over the shoulder. Teach your child to carry his device by placing the strap across his body. When he is seated at his desk, playing on the floor, or engaged in other stationary activities, he should remove the device and place it near him. If your child enjoys swimming or needs access to communication during bathtime, your therapist can assist you with creating a laminated paper communication board from a screenshot.
At first, you will need to remind your child to keep his device near him. As he learns to use it to communicate, he will likely need less prompting. If your child is resistant to carrying his device, your ABA therapist can help you with how to shape and reinforce this behavior. Avoid carrying the device in a backpack or other bag out of your child’s reach. Likewise, when at home, your child should have constant access to his device during waking hours.
If your child is using an AAC application on an iPad, it is tempting to allow him to use the device for videos and games as well. Please do not do this. If your child is watching shows or playing a game, he will not be able to communicate simultaneously. Additionally, we have consistently observed that children who have access to games on their device are much less likely to use the device to communicate.
It is critically important to your child’s communication skills that his device be used only for that purpose. Many families choose to have second device available as a “play tablet” that the child may use for games and videos. Low-cost tablets such as the Kindle Fire may be appropriate for that purpose.
The “guided access” features on Apple devices are an excellent tool for ensuring that your child’s device stays locked in the communication application, and that he does not make accidental changes to settings or vocabulary. If you are unfamiliar with the “guided access” settings, your therapist will be happy to show you how to set those restrictions.
We are excited that your child is beginning his communication journey with high-tech AAC! We would love to hear from you about what AAC-related topics you would like to read more about in future posts. Please comment with your suggestions and questions.
Written by Cresanna Kahrl, RBT
In this post, we will briefly discuss three important ways you can care for your child’s device to ensure that it is kept in good condition and available for him whenever he needs to communicate.
Keeping it Safe:
If your child is using an iPad with an AAC application, you will need to purchase a case to protect the device. We also recommend using a screen protector. In most cases, a rubberized case with a handle and carrying strap will be sufficient (insert picture of a PureSense case).
Ask your ABA therapist for guidance if your child engages in any destructive behavior toward the device, so that a behavior plan can be implemented.
Keeping it Clean:
Your child is carrying his device everywhere with him and it will need to be cleaned frequently. Wipe down the case with a disinfecting wipe daily to remove grime and germs. Clean the screen carefully to prevent a sticky buildup. If your child has a dedicated communication device, refer to the device manual for specific cleaning instructions.
Keeping it Charged:
Develop a routine of plugging in the device every night when your child goes to bed so that it will be fully charged for the next day. If you find that the device battery is not lasting all day, there are several setting adjustments that can be helpful.
Settings that affect battery life include turning off bluetooth and wifi, ensuring that the device is used only for communication, lowering the screen brightness slightly, and setting the device to dim when not in use. If the battery is still not lasting all day after making these adjustments, you may want to purchase a portable external battery pack to supplement the device battery.
In part 3, we will review some early steps to help your child develop ownership of his device and how to keep it available for communication.
Written by Cresanna Kahrl, RBT