Mailman Segal Institute provides autistic children with communication software

Autistic children at the Mailman Segal Institute’s Baudhuin Preschool will be able to communicate better thanks to 21 iPads and the application Proloquo2Go.

People can communicate using Proloquo2Go by pressing pictures, which the program voices.

Roni Leiderman, Ph.D., dean of the Mailman Segal Institute, said autistic children have three impairments: social interaction, communication and behavior. She also said the Proloquo2Go application is a stepping stone to full communication for some and partial communication for others.

“Many of these children have challenges with communication. Some cannot speak or communicate properly so you can imagine how frustrating it is for both the parent and child…This application gives them a voice,” said Leiderman.

Pam Harris, member of the AssistiveWare support team for Proloquo2Go said the software includes 7,000 symbols or images, but families can import their own photographs or images.

“Children can initiate and express what they want through this product. A four-year-old can express ‘I want my train’ by touching a few images and symbols,” Harris said. “Or they can point to a picture of their grandpa and Proloquo2Go will say for them ‘When are we going to Papa’s house?’”

Feiona Heaven, junior management major, said the software raises awareness about autism.

“[It] also shows the positive role technology plays and how it is opening the gateway for information to be [released] about this condition,” said Heaven.

Leiderman received the iPads after soliciting donations from several individuals.

“I called people, explained the seriousness of autism and asked if they would purchase one for one of our 18 classrooms,” said Leiderman. “Our goal was 18 iPads in 18 days. I got 18 iPads in 18 hours.”

She surpassed the goal receiving 21 iPads equipped with Proloquo2Go.

Leiderman said three of the iPads will be used in the school’s Starting Right program, which serves 18-36 month old children who exhibit delays in language and social skills. She said individuals were willing to donate after they heard how beneficial the devices and software would be to students.

“It was the best holiday gift I could’ve ever gotten and it will be such an impact for our programs,” said Leidernan.

The Baudhuin Preschool and the Starting Right program hope to purchase more iPads and welcome the support and donations of NSU’s clubs and organizations.

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