Nick is an enthusiastic 8 year-old user of Predictable. Although Nick's intelligibility of speech is only about 30%, he has no problem communicating with his family. Nick has created his own system of sign language that only his family understands. While the creation of his own sign language was ingenious, it created problems for him academically and when communicating with anyone that wasn't his immediate family. For example, at school Nick was not able to communicate well with his teachers and peers, and since he also has difficulty forming letter shapes, writing for communication was not an option either. His family realized that his speech and language disorder was negatively affecting his opportunities to build meaningful friendships with his peers and that he was also missing out on many of the everyday sort of things that kids his age do. That is when his family considered getting him a "talker" (a communication device).
Predictable was actually the second communication software application that was trialed with Nick. After a couple of months of the trial, however, it became apparent that Nick was unsatisfied and was losing interest in using the app. That was a signal that the first communication app just wasn't the right fit for him. Since Nick is literate, Predictable was the next communication app selected for a trail. The first time he used Predictable he took ownership of it right away. He understood how to use the word prediction feature with only one demonstration, and then used it to type silly sentences, "I want to go to Mexico" and "I love you to the moons of Jupiter Venus and Serena." He had a lot of fun that day!
The trial continued and Nick asked his mother every week if he could take it home with him. So after two months, his parents got him his own iPad-mini with the Predictable app. The "guided access" iPad feature is used to lock the app onto the screen so that Nick can't use the other features on his iPad-mini, like videos or games. It was decided that doing this would be the best way for Nick to learn that his iPad-mini was his "talker", and isn't a toy. Luckily for him, his parents have another iPad-mini that he can use during his free time for games and videos. Nick has had his own talker for two monthsnow, and his mother says that it's the first thing he asks for when he wakes up in the morning. This month, Nick has started using full sentences on his own for the first time in his life. Although he is 8 years old, he never learned the grammatical rules of English, so the process of acquiring proper grammar and using correct spelling is a lot of work for him.
We still hope that Nick' intelligibility will improve and that someday he won't need his talker anymore. In the meantime, we are also going to use Predictable to work on his language and social skills so that he can make friends his age, improve his performance school and, ultimately, do all the normal things that kids his age do.
Written by Mendi Carroll, M.A., CCC-SLP,
Jacob's Ladder Pediatric Rehabilitation Center-Warsaw