My name is Kristin Smith. I am an Occupational Therapist and also the Assistive Technology Facilitator for CSD158 in Algonquin, IL. The district I work for has gone from a very small district to one of the largest districts in Illinois; and it is still growing! As the district continues to grow, we no longer need to contract out our AT evaluations. We currently use a dynamic four step AT model (Consider, Choose, Trial, Implement). During the “Choose” phase we decide, as a team, the features the AAC tool should have to best fit the needs of the student. We then proceed to the “Trial” phase and allow the student to have exposure to the device for 4-6 weeks. This is very different than the traditional evaluation process we had in the past and means I am always looking for devices and apps to trial. This led me to Clicker Communicator.
My OT background first drew me to this app. What I mean by that is I was looking for something that was visually clear and was easy for students to navigate. As I began to investigate Clicker Communicator more, I was able to see just how easy it was to edit Vocabulary Sets on the fly. So, if a student is starting to melt down, the classroom teacher, the school social worker, or I, can edit or add a cell in that moment. Sometimes, this is enough to avoid a complete melt down. Our students are very visual so it is great to be able to take a picture and put it in the cell all in one step.
"The next feature that drew me to Clicker Communicator is the little red dot that appears when you tap the screen. For one little boy, it has changed everything because it helps to keep his focus on the screen."
The Core Vocabulary Sets were also something that drew me to this app. I love Clicker Core 3! I have all of my students use Clicker Core 3 because there is so much language available. The students might not use it all at first, but, I love having it all there for them so that I can model.
The next feature that drew me to Clicker Communicator seems so small but in my opinion, it is one of the best features. It is the little red dot that appears when you tap the screen (you can turn this Show Touches option on or off). It seems like such a small feature, most teachers might never use it or even know it is there. But, for one little boy, it has changed everything because it helps to keep his focus on the screen. In the past he had used apps for communication, but he was not doing as well as we had hoped or expected. He would identify or label objects and provide one word responses to questions, but after that he was stuck. We wanted him to move past one word answers but we were struggling to help him make this transition. Using Clicker Communicator with the Show Touches feature turned on, he is now initiating conversation and creating 2-3 word phrases! I was concerned about the layout and categories in Clicker Core 3 for him; I thought it might be too advanced for him to learn where the words are located since he is only in preschool! But, he did amazingly with the organization of the app. He learned all of the pathways to his words in only 3 days! He also loves tapping the message area to make the app speak, all because he sees the little red dot when he taps. He speaks each of his messages before he moves on to the next sentence or statement. We would never have known how capable this student is if we had not tried something new. Even though we were nervous to try something advanced with a preschooler, he has taken Clicker Communicator and run with it!
"Sometimes we think an app will work and it doesn’t. Other times we think an app is too advanced but then the student starts using it and blossoms. Clicker Communicator is helping my students blossom!"
Clicker Communicator has something for everyone. It is a very easy app to use and edit. There are great visual supports and you can turn on SuperKeys, which clusters and enlarges cells, for the students who need it. We tend to make assumptions with students who are nonverbal. We assume what they are capable of, but we really need to let them try different apps and programs to see their full potential. Each child is so different and unique. Sometimes we think an app will work and it doesn’t. Other times we think an app is too advanced but then the student starts using it and blossoms. Clicker Communicator is helping my students blossom!