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Implementing an iPad Communication Device

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Keywords: communication, AAC, Augmentative Communication, social skills, inclusion
Subject(s): Social Skills, Autism, Special Needs, Speech and Language
Grades P-K through 12
NETS-S Standard:
  • Communication and Collaboration
  • Technology Operations and Concepts
View Full Text of Standards
School: Fay Elementary, San Diego, CA
Planned By: Adele Singer
Original Author: Adele Singer, San Diego
1. Before a child with Autism or other disabilities affecting their communication skills will use a communication application, they need to be shown how to use it and how it will be useful to them. So before you attempt to teach them to use it, pinpoint the most appropriate places and times when a teaching opportunity will present itself. I.e. asking for the bathroom, asking for a certain color crayon/marker, asking for their favorite toy, etc.. Once you know the best places/times to present the iPad to the student, learn the steps the student needs to go through to make that request (Cory) (want) (bathroom). Ensure classroom staff and service providers are aware of these opportunities as well and how to guide the student through the application.

2. Always have the iPad charged and available for all planned lessons and teaching moments that present themselves.

3. When using during a lesson for the first time try a request that will require similar questions that repeat the same/similar response. i.e. when coloring: (Cory) (want) (red) or (Cory want) (crayon), depending on the students skill level. Guide the student through the request using the hierarchy of prompting over and over again until the lesson is over or the student is using the application independently for that lesson. Continue to assist the student through repetitive lessons until they are using it with 50-60% accuracy independently before using multiple questions and/or making the sentence/request more complex.

4. When using the application for requests throughout the day, make sure the iPad is always available to the student. It is best to know or have an idea of what the student is trying to communicate in order to best guide them through the app and avoid more frustration than is necessary for the student. Present the iPad with the app open and guide them through their request and reinforce with praise and immediately respond to the request positively.

Having a problem with a student clicking out of the application rather than using it appropriately? Lock the iPad into the app and use that as a teaching opportunity for them to ask for what they would rather use the iPad for. In Settings, go to the general link and scroll down to accessibility and turn on Guided Access then set up a password you can share with classroom staff and service providers. Open the TouchChat or GoTalk application and click the return button 3 times quickly then choose start. To leave Guided Access click the return button 3 times quickly, enter the password and click end.

5. When using the iPad in an inclusive environment it is best that the staff/aide/peer buddy know how to navigate through the application and have a general idea as to the lesson before class time to best assist the student using the device. i.e. in Touch Chat, knowing how to navigate to the weather page when discussing weather in science class; or creating a weather page for the GoTalk app ahead of time. The teacher can then ask questions at the students ability level that will allow him/her to participate in classroom discussions and the staff/aide/peer buddy can assist the student in navigating to where he/she can find the answer.
Similar applications include Proloquo2go, assistive speak, OneVoice, or MyFirst AAC.
Cross-Curriculum Ideas
These applications can be used during inclusion in any curriculum.
Links: Link to iTunes
Materials: Bags and Cases, Autism, Speech and Language
Other Items: 1 iPad, $400.00 each, total of $400.00
1 TouchChat application, $300.00 each, total of $300.00
1 GoTalk application, $80.00 each, total of $80.00