Road to communication with Mobile Apps - Assistive Tech

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Information about Road to communication with Mobile Apps - Assistive Tech

Published on March 14, 2014

Author: NabeelaJaffer



Our son was diagnosed with Autism PDD-NOS at age 4, we have been through a hard time of helping him learn to talk and be able to communicate. Non-verbal or speech impaired is a common trait of children with Autism. We had to find a solution for his communication that would be easy for him to use and easy for to configure and manage. We developed a mobile app 'My Words' for him that is easy to use and easy to carry with him on his iPhone or iPad.
We as parents know that it is hard for parents with special kids, so we want to keep this app affordable for all the parents and care takers. It is only $4.99, in iTunes App store.
What is My Words App ? It is an app that facilitates communication for people with a wide spectrum of special needs by allowing users to simply tap a word in order to play it audibly. Parents or care takers can configure the list of custom vocabulary required for the users. The list can be shared among app users by using 'Share Words' feature.
It is being used by many people all around the world, and we hope to increase the awareness of augmentative and assistive technology to help children with Autism.

3/14/2014Footer Text 1 Road to Communication with Mobile Apps Nabeela Jaffer – Software Engineer Mateen Jaffer – Electrical Engineer Parents of a non-verbal son with Autism

Overview • About Us and our son • Research Facts • Our experience and concerns • What worked for us – Assistive Tech App • What is „My Words‟ app • How it works • Our road to communication continues.. • Questions ? Comments ? 3/14/2014Footer Text 2

About Us • We are engineers and parents of a son with Autism- PDD • Our son had birth difficulties and later at age 4, he was diagnosed with Autism. • His major challenge: communication • He has higher receptive than expressive language • Salmaan is 17 years old now and he has a twin brother, whom he likes to model 3/14/2014Footer Text 3

Research Facts – Autism Speaks • 25 percent of individuals living with autism spectrum disorders are non-verbal. • Non-verbal individuals are nearly always presumed to have low intellectual capabilities, yet some of these individuals have developed the ability to communicate through alternative means. • What if many more individuals are cognitively intact but simply unable to access the ability to communicate? Source: news/researchers-focus-non-verbal-autism-high-risk-high-impact- meeting 3/14/2014Footer Text 4

Research Facts – SIMON Foundation • “It can be difficult to tell how intellectually impaired somebody is. If they can‟t speak, then we maybe undershoot them when we assess them and assume that they are much more impaired than they actually are.” • “Every child needs access to communication.” Source: nonverbal-autism-must-go-beyond-words-experts-say 3/14/2014Footer Text 5

Our Experience • Elementary school - tried PECS, and different communication devices that were big and bulky, hard to configure and he did not like to use those devices • Middle School - liked using sign language, but not many people understand sign language • At home - he would pick a magnet alphabet from the fridge and show it to us, expecting us to guess the word that starts with that letter 3/14/2014Footer Text 6

Our Concerns • He started to became aware of the fact that people can‟t understand his language • He was getting more frustrated day by day • Safety concern – he could not tell his name or whereabouts to anyone • He likes to talk to people and ask questions, but people could not understand him 3/14/2014Footer Text 7

We Had to Help Our Son • We had to find the right communication tool for him • While in middle school, he liked playing on iPod. • We thought iPod might be the solution for his communication device • We found several apps, very expensive and very complicated • A lot of frustration led us to think that there must be a simple mobile app that he can use and it will say it for him, like talking flash card 3/14/2014Footer Text 8

What We Needed 3/14/2014Footer Text 9 • A communication / assistive technology device • Should be easy to use and easy to configure • Should be easy to carry • Something that he would like to carry all the time • A device that does not make him look odd • A device that is not very expensive to buy and replace if needed

Our Solution 3/14/2014Footer Text 10 • „My Words‟ app for iPod and iPad. In March 2010, „My Words‟ was in iTunes App store and since then thousands of people have benefited • Easy to use and easy for parents and care takers to configure • Convenient to add new word on the go • Add words in different languages • Affordable for everyone help-son-with-autism WXYZ - Channel 7 July 25, 2013

Easy To Configure Create your own talking flash cards Or Create list Using "Share Words" Feature 1. Create a My Words account either through the app or using the website (at no additional cost) 2. Download public words with sound and picture to your device 3. You can upload your words to your online account to share them, either publicly or with specific My Words app members 3/14/2014Footer Text 12

“My Words” can help • Individuals on Autism Spectrum • • Speech impaired • Speech dyslexic • Deaf and dumb • Stroke Patients • Language learners 3/14/2014Footer Text 13

Road To Communication For Our Son • Our son has started his journey to communication • We are still in the process of teaching him to use the communication device effectively • This journey might be long but there is hope •We hope that one day he would be able to go anywhere and talk to people using his mobile device ! 3/14/2014Footer Text 14

Questions Questions ?? Comments ?? Email Phone 734-975-6932 3/14/2014Footer Text 15

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