Children with complex communication needs require another way to talk and communicate with their family, peers, and caregivers. There are many options to consider. There are low-tech devices and high-tech devices. Low-tech devices are often devices made of paper and high-tech devices are technology-based (e.g., iPads, Dynavox, etc.). PODD is a paper-based device that focuses on the teaching of communicative functions (e.g., commenting, requesting, protesting, opinions, etc.), so there is no need to understand categorization prior to utilizing the device. The system also aims to provide continuous communication, a range of messages, across a variety of settings and situations. PODD can also easily allow communicators to transition into a variety of high-tech devices (e.g., GoTalk, Proloquo, etc.) and can also be used alongside the communicator’s current communication device/system.
To begin with PODD, it is important to model the language for the communicator. Verbal communicators learn to speak by listening to others speak around them, and the best way to help a child with complex communication needs learn to use the PODD system is to use the system to model speaking through pictures throughout the day. This will allow the child/communicator to learn the way the system works and utilize the system independently. The numbers in the upper right hand corner create links on each page, which allows for the communicator to build on the pragmatic function to communicate ideas, so that we as communication partners can also navigate the device with minimal difficulty.
PODD would be a beneficial tool for individuals who benefit from using an alternative and augmentative communication system to assist with understanding and expressing language. For more information on PODD, please visit www.poddusa.com.
Written by Thao Witbeck, MS, CCC-SLP/L after attending training by Gayle Porter and Linda Burkhart