Those of you who have followed this blog for a while may remember my youngest son Dylan. He is six years old and autistic, with severe speech delays. For the past two years, we have been working with the school to find the best communication device for him with little success. When I found this new app, I was excited to give it a try.
Aacorn is not like other AAC devices, which can be complicated for young children to navigate. It uses a unique “Tree” system to provide a limited number of word options based on past communication choices. It’s the first app of its kind with an artificial intelligence that learns and adapts to word preferences. Here’s an example.
- For this sentence, I started with the word “I” shown in the center of the tree (#1). From there, the tree grew to predict my next word, “want”.
- After pressing “want” a new tree appears predicting what my next word might be. I chose “to”.
- Finally, I arrive at my final word, “swim”.
- You can see the sentence growing at the top of the screen as we add more words. Once it is complete, we can click the word bubble at the bottom right of the screen to hear the entire sentence spoken aloud.
- If the word I need is not available on the tree, I can click the “+” plus sign to see more options.
All of the words appearing in this example were available because of Dylan’s past word preferences. So if you have a child who loves to swim, you’ll use the word “swim” a lot, and consequently it will appear in the word tree a lot. Make sense?
Once Dylan got the hang of this app, he was able to navigate other words easily from the screen shown below. Here, you’ll find hundreds of words listed by category for easy retrieval. We use this screen when he has a request for something unusual that will not appear on his word tree. For example, if he would like to paint a picture (not a common request), he could find the words he needs to communicate this to us on this screen.
What I like:
- Word trees provide limited choices, which means less complication and more success!
- Having success with communication has encouraged even more communication.
- Because it’s an intelligent app, the word choices shown are often right on the money for what my son wants to say.
- You can “save” favorite sentences for easy retrieval.
- You have the option of “pruning” the tree to give your child even fewer options until he/she is familiar with the system.
- You can add your own words and voices.
- You can remove words that are not relevant.