Autism 2 Ability – is a not-for-profit organization that is based in Mobile, Alabama. Their mission is to develop and administer programs for families with special needs children, including those children with autism, as well as promoting autism awareness.
Their website states:
“We seek to eliminate barriers so young people with special needs can achieve success. We are mindful as parents brace themselves for the challenges, recognize the differences, celebrate the uniqueness, recognize the possibilities, and savor the wins that comprise the harmonious complexity of the family.”
They have recently designed an app called TALK which is basically a tool that is designed to help give a voice to all non-verbal individuals.
The app, available for both IPhone and IPad as well as being available for the android market, contains a series of customizable pictures that allow words to be quickly and easily formed to communicate the needs of the person.
“Instead of reinventing the wheel, we are improving upon tried and true communication techniques with new technologies, while at the same time making TALK affordable and accessible for all.”
Autism 2 Ability hope that this new app will help to empower individuals and enable them to reach their full potential and believe that “the road to learning begins with communication.”
Below is a video which shows how the app can be used to make a story board
Below is our review:
To review this app I enlisted the help of my young son, Tom aged 6 who has Autistic Spectrum Disorder. He attends a specialist ASD school where they use PECS and visual aids, he is verbal bur greatly benefits from visual symbols and a visual timetable. We also use a visual timetable at home during the weekend and holidays.
Tom’s first responses to the app
When Tom is shown anything new he usually resists it, and the same is true when a new app ‘appears’ on his IPad. At first he asked me to take it off, but when I calmed him and opened up the app for him, he was mesmerized. I allowed him to sit and navigate the app himself, as he is very capable using the IPad and to figure out how the app worked for himself. He soon got the hang of it and opened up all of the individual main categories to see what images they contained.
The main categories include, School, Eating, Community, Play, Needs and Wants and Home. Each category then opens up into separate categories. For example below is an image for the subcategory ‘feelings’ which is under the Needs and Wants banner.
Was the customization easy to use?
I have to say that I found the customization extremely easy to use. I referred to the online video that was referenced in the Tutorials section on the app entitled how to add and customize stickers shown below) and found the entire process incredibly straightforward. I added images of family members, and items known to Tom.
Below is the video that shows how to add and customize stickers
Tom actually wanted the voice that was already installed on the app, and not my voice. He did not want me to record my voice and seemed perfectly happy with the lady’s voice that was used.
Do you see a pattern of favorite picture tiles used?
After having used the app for several weeks Tom seems to favour the Eating section and the Needs and Wants section the most. He has used the feelings sub section an awful lot, I feel in order to explore his feelings and how they appear visually on the screen.
Ease of use for finding and using stickers desired?
I found finding and using stickers incredibly easy. For example I wanted to add a photograph of Tom’s brother and this was very easy to do. I simply went to Edit Section, found the Needs and Wants category and then the Important People section. This opened up a picture board where I found Brother. All I ad to do was to press Edit, press the image of brother and then simply uploaded a photograph from my image library.
Have they communicated something new or better than they have before, after using TALK?
One good example of this is when Tom first viewed the sub category of Breakfast. He pressed every icon, repeating the name of each item. When he pressed the rice cake icon, he turned to me and said “I eat rice cake at school”, I never knew that they had rice cakes for snack at school, so this app enabled him to tell me this fact, of which without the visual clue, he could not.
Below you can watch a candid interview with the CEO of Autism 2 Ability Ray Miller
It is available from the Apple Store
and Google Play
You can follow Autism 2 Ability over on twitter