Made of Gray

Proloquo2Go 2.0 & SwitchXS

Holly D Gray3 Comments
Tuesday, was the much anticipated release of Proloquo2Go 2.0, at least for our family it was. The big hoopla about this update was the introduction of a core vocabulary. I basically spent all day in a iPad fog. There were a few glitches that we worked through. AssistiveWare's support is wonderful. 

So here's the low down for Caleigh. I made the choices smaller and gave them a bit of spacing between each button. This gave her more choices per page. Each page now has a page up and page down, which will really be amazing when she is spelling for us. I kept the "home page" button on each screen because it is easier for Caleigh to get to an actual button instead of the toolbar located at the bottom of the screen. 
So what about the Core, you ask? We'll, it really does look nice. I think it will change a lot of kid's lives. Really, I do. The addition of this core takes Proloquo2Go right up to the level of the big box AAC devices. There are a ton of new words for Caleigh to partake in. With that said, unless you have every button and word, or at least 8-10 rows and columns on the screen, it just isn't very feasible to create a sentence structure. Having 4-6 folder options to a screen doesn't make a sentence. I knew this though. This is why each and every device we have tried is limiting to Caleigh. She has the words in her head, she uses them separately, but until we can get a good access method; she will be restricted.

For instance, today at the library, Caleigh repeatedly said "park" "park." I know she wanted to go to the park, but everyone around us just heard "park" over and over again. Maybe she wanted to go the park? Maybe she wanted a book about a park? Maybe she wanted to talk about our awesome park? It's instances like these that make the app difficult.
So I took a lot of the awesome new features and applied them to our original setup. I did look through the core folders and took some ideas for new words, and then added them to the current set where they fit for Caleigh. There is supposed to be a way to copy and paste from one user to another. This would let me copy a useable folder from the core, and then paste it to our original file. This feature is supposed to be available with the next update.

I have been told that switch access is in the works for Proloquo2Go, and that it may be done by the end of the year. You can see what that interface may look like here. I honestly have been looking forward to this since we bought the iPad and app over two years ago. The entire app has to be rewritten for this to be accomplished so I understand the delay. Caleigh, and I are really ready though. I feel like the lady wanting to go shopping in that 90's Marshal's commercial... open, open, open.
While we are waiting, I decided to try a desktop switch access system. Did you know that AssistiveWare makes one? Well, they do, and it's called Proloquo. Not Proloquo2Go, but just Proloquo. It's more of a text based computer AAC whereas Proloquo2Go is for Apple mobile devices and is more symbol based. With a few phone calls and some begging, we were able to borrow a Swifty USB interface for our MacBook. The device turns switches essentially into a mouse and keyboard. The software that does this is called SwitchXS. Through switch clicks and on screen grid layouts you can basically use a computer just like anyone else can. 

It's advanced though. I'm a bit puzzled by it, but after I made a few simplified layouts; Caleigh seemed to catch on pretty well. Right now we are just playing with iTunes. Caleigh is completely motivated by music. So this was an obvious first choice when teaching her how to use switch scanning. Or so I thought.

Music makes Caleigh happy. Being happy causes some serious dystonic movements, and therefore makes switch scanning a lot harder than it needs to be. BUT she does get the idea and that is what counts.

I'm not sure if this setup is the one, but it is definitely something to consider. Some bonuses of using a laptop instead of an iPad can be using websites that run Adobe Flash, operating iTunes, Word documents and also accessing educational software for literacy and writing. Most children's sites (Disney, PBS, etc.) use Flash and because Apple and Adobe don't play well together; Flash isn't on Apple mobile devices. The idea of Caleigh writing school assignments in the future using something of this nature is also very intriguing. We have the interface for two weeks and the software trial for 15 days. So we'll see how it goes.

In the video below, you can see Caleigh using the switch scanning through SwitchXS. The iTunes grid is up and Caleigh is navigating through that grid. To make her choice she used three clicks. One scan and two selects. She is whining, which has been her constant state lately. She whines during school work, whines during therapy, whines. I'm hoping this is a phase. The switches obviously need to be mounted, but because they are not ours to mount, that will not be happening.

The entire setup minus a new laptop costs roughly $900-$1000. So with a laptop we are looking at about $2000. We are checking into insurance as a option for this type of thing, but I'm not sure about the requirements as of yet. It's a pretty amazing system though with a lot of possibilities.

There is another company out there that makes a similar product and it costs about the same. I'm working on getting a trial of it as well before we make any decisions.

If you want to see the video that lit the fire for me you can click on the link here. Christopher started using switch scanning when he was five for Ebooks. He takes his Macbook Pro with him wherever he goes. It's pretty amazing. He has several videos on his channel if your interested.

Ideally, Caleigh will use some sort of switch scanning device whether that be through the iPad or through a laptop. Either way, they are portable. Either way, something has to eventually work.
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