Sunday, November 22, 2009

TapToTalk for Nintendo DS!

(click the button to visit the product website)

Last night I was browsing on the Teaching Learners With Multiple Special Needs blog and saw the most intriguing post -- Two Ways to Make Nintendo DS an AAC Device. (Three cheers for Kate!)

I have been scouring the web for more information and have decided that this might be IT, you guys! This might be exactly what we've been looking for! It runs on a Nintendo, people. A NINTENDO!

You have heard me repeatedly grappling with the issue of communication, and with the frustratng and overwhelming task of finding an appropriate AAC device for my son. And, honestly, this is the first thing I've seen in several years that I am ready to BUY.

Here's why.
  • First of all, it has a dynamic display.* We've tried devices in the past that have only one level, but they are way too basic for our purposes. We've tried devices that can switch between several pre-programmed levels with different printable sheets or cards to swap in and out, but they are impractical (and, again, too limiting). On the other end of the spectrum are the very sophisticated dynamic display formats with so many levels and choices that my son gets completely lost or distracted. The TapToTalk program seems to offer a solid middle ground, which is what we need right now.
*Dynamic display means the user can navigate through levels by selecting options and advancing through screen after screen with increasingly narrow/specific options. Go to the online TapToTalk demo to try it for yourself.
  • I'm listing this second, but it's a major selling point: TapToTalk is affordable. The one-year subscription cost for the TapToTalk service is only $99 -- a far cry from the $7,000-$9,000 price tags we've been dismayed to find on other devices. We already have a Nintendo DS, so for around a hundred dollars we could be set up! Not only does that relieve an enormous amount of pressure for making The "Perfect" AAC Decision, but it also means there's no major funding required, and therefore no insurance, no paperwork, no waiting period, no grant-writing, no approvals, no jumping through hoops, either! (In addition, the company offers a 30-day return policy, so if I'm not impressed with it, I could actually send it back and put that hundred dollars right back in the AAC fund. There's no risk.)

  • It looks doable. I know this kind of programming always takes more time than I expect it to, but there are lots of good online tutorials and it really doesn't look complicated. I could start out with a basic outline for immediate use, and then tweak and edit and continue to build over time as needed; the customizing potential is great. In addition, the program navigation is so intuitive that I know we can hit the ground running and not get bogged down in learning a new language or reading complex training manuals. That's important, because there are very few resources or specialists in this area to turn to for assistance; I am, by necessity, the expert. I can do this!
  • It's replaceable. My son is hard on electronic equipment. I mean *really* hard. He loves hand-held games and players....but it's still very likely that he will get too rough, or throw it, or drop it, or mess with the hinges, or pull on the cords, etc. (We have a Nerf protective shell and screen clings for ours, but I am still worried about those fragile hinges....) But this is basic, light-weight gaming equipment we're talking about! The hardware (platform) itself could be replaced, and the software is accessible online. That means the content can be downloaded again if anything goes missing. Breakage would not be a major tragedy; I really like that.
  • Nintendo DS is a familiar platform for my son. He can already navigate on a Gameboy, and he's watched his older brother play on a DS many times. I'm confident he can figure this program out very quickly. In addition to being small, portable, and readily available, this system would also let him be just like his brother. (That's highly motivating stuff, right there.)
Is anybody else out there as excited as I am? I can't wait to get my hands my son's hands on this!

I have no idea whether this program will prove to be a disappointing flop, a valuable stepping stone, or a permanent solution for communicating with our son...but I am absolutely thrilled to discover TapToTalk as such a wonderfully practical and accessible AAC option!


Lenny Greenberg said...

Thank you for the wonderful mention. We at TapToTalk are committed to supporting our customers and making their TapToTalk experience a successful one.

Tammy Katz said...

I just saw TapToTalk for the first time at the Ohio Center for Autism and Low Incidence event in Columbus, Ohio last week. It's awesome, and the kids loved it. Really easy to use.

K said...

Thanks for the kudos.

I really hope this works out for Maz and that you post all about it!

Did you check out Proloquo2Go for the iPod touch also, it sounds like TapToTalk is a better choice but it can't hurt to look at all the options.

Kate at Teaching Learners with Multiple Special Needs

Penny L. Richards said...

That looks AWESOME. I'll have to show Nell--she'll be impressed.

Anonymous said...

This price is pretty tricky and is $99 per year, which means that it's $990 in ten years.There is also no explanation of years when the device will not be upgraded, so I'm worried if money will be taken from my credit card even when there is no upgrade.
My child has trouble with telling the difference between all the emotions on this device and I know he's going to lose the touch pen for the DS.My son is using Voice4u on the iPhone.

It's $29.99 and there's no yearly subscription. The pictures are vivid, you can use your hands for it and he has started using it in school. Other children can understand it too, so he can have communication with his classmates and teachers.

Anonymous said...

This TaptoTalk application looks interesting. It works on a Nintendo DS which is great.


Donna said...

I found your blog while researching Tap to Talk and cannot help but share thoughts on your sons common symptoms with my granddaughter. Has he ever been tested for Angelman Syndrome? It requires a blood draw through a genetic specialist but may offer a diagnosis for what your describing. Microcephaly, non-verbal, chronic sleep issues, the delays, and most importantly his happy demeanor. He so sounds like an angel....