It has been a busy week for image2talk in school and out and about.
Sean has been working yes/no for the last couple of years. This program was first implemented with yes/no PECS symbols that Sean would manually hand over, we used laminated cards with the green tick for yes and the no symbol for no, the same images you now see on image2talk. The initial steps of Sean’s yes/no program involved a number of interventions such as running preference tests and using one or two highly preferred items for a yes response and one or two aversive items for a no response. We also used different prompt levels to teach the concept of yes and no.
Sean then moved onto using a Go-talk for communication. We started yes and no on a Go-talk 4 with only the yes and no images on it then put yes and no in a field of 4 images. Sean quickly progressed onto a Go-talk 20 and the images for yes and no were presented on that. A few months ago I was keen to get Sean started on using his iPad for communication so I downloaded a yes/no app. This was a nice simple app to use but on this app yes is presented by a green box with ‘YES’ written inside and no is presented with a red no with ‘NO’ written inside. When we started using this app Sean’s correct responding decreased. He did not generalise the concept of the green and red for yes and no and we found he was using visual cues around him to respond, for example we found that if we held the item in our right hand he would tap the box on the right and if we held the item in our left hand he would tap the box on the left.
Thankfully, image2talk was nearly ready for use and now that Sean is using yes and no on image2talk his correct responding has increased again. We still have to run preference tests from time to time. I got caught out on Thursday as normally Sean likes crackers and butter so I had the items in view and asked Sean if he would like them. He responded ‘no’. I was not convinced he meant no so asked him again and picked up a cracker and handed it towards him. With this he tapped ‘no’ again then pushed my hand away. That was me told.
What Sean does like just now are Tesco cheese thins biscuits. He was at lunch the other day eating some of these biscuits and independently went into image2talk and asked for a bottle of water. He prefers to drink water from a sports style bottle and he had left his in the classroom so I thought it was great he used his image2talk in this context.
Sean also used image2talk out in McDonalds during the week to ask for chips and coke. He required a gestural prompt to the food row to find the chips but when asking him what he wanted to drink, while doing a drinking sign with my hand, he went straight for coke independently. That is an example of how Sean appears to understand more when words are accompanied with actions.
The other area we have been working on in school is visual discrimination skills. We targeted the common objects row. I turned off the voice over and we simply held up an object e.g. a toothbrush or spoon and asked Sean ‘What is this?’ He was then required to find and tap the image of the object. Ever since testing the interface design of image2talk with Sean I am constantly amazed by the speed in which he is learning to use image2talk. On Sean’s image2talk the common objects row is the sixth row and when I was running this program I moved the overview screen between presentations of objects so Sean had to first find the row and then the image. After a few presentations of objects he had it.
I have to admit, after I downloaded image2talk onto Sean’s iPad I thought I would have needed to delete a load of images and even rows and then gradually build up the number of images over time but he is proving me wrong every day. So far the only customisations I have made to Sean’s image2talk have been to delete the girl’s clothes items, move the everyday conversation row in between the food and drinks rows to help with getting used to the horizontal scrolling and add in images for jelly sweets and noodles. To personalise it more I am going to add in an image of his bed and house this week.
Also this week, now that I know Sean recognises the images in the common objects row, we can start creating opportunities for communicating using the objects row such as not having spoon available when he is having a yogurt or taking the toothpaste out of his wash bag so he needs to use image2talk to communicate that he needs these objects.
Sean is all about things being functional and meaningful to him, he is not one for doing things just for the sake of it. So, for that reason really, functional communication was always the philosophy behind image2talk.
image2talk is now available in the iTunes App Store