Electronic Devices

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tabletA more advanced form of communication allows a nonverbal child or individual to speak verbally through an electronic device.

The simplest device is actually a toy called Yak Bak, which can be purchased in toy stores for less than $10. The Yak Bak allows one recording at a time, which can be repeated by pushing a button. One mother bought two Yak Baks and sewed them into a vest for her son. Her son couldn’t nod or shake his head to respond to yes/no questions; on one Yak Bak she recorded “yes”, and on the other she recorded “no.” When her son wanted to respond, he pressed his answer on the Yak Bak.

Other devices are more complex and allow recordings to be made in a number of cells. Each cell can be individually recorded to offer more choices of responses. For example, at home a child can use the device to communicate whether he/she wants milk or water. In therapy, the device can be used with any drill where recorded choices would reveal mastery of a task.

More sophisticated tools are synthesized speech devices that can be used with preprogrammed materials or with messages you create. You can also purchase software to retrofit a regular computer into a tool for communication. One program, Speaking Dynamically from Mayer-Johnson, transforms a touch-screen Macintosh into a portable augmentative communication device.


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