New to simPODD? Start here!

  • 7 minute read

If you are like us, then you are also a parent to a child who is learning to use AAC. Starting out with simPODD may feel both exciting and overwhelming. Maybe this is the first communication system you’re introducing to your son or daughter like it was for Magali and her son Ludovic. Magali is a member of our support team. Maybe your son or daughter is older, and you’re moving to simPODD after other systems weren’t the right fit. If so, then you’re in the same boat as Erin and her daughter Maggie. Either way, we’re here with you on this journey. We’ll help you and your family learn to use simPODD to support your child to share their thoughts.

PODD is a powerful tool for communication. It is a complete solution for AAC. It is used by people of all ages and with a wide variety of disabilities. It's especially powerful for people with emerging language skills.

AssistiveWare created simPODD to make your experience with PODD easier. simPODD is a complete and easy-to-use PODD app, wherever you are on your communication journey.

Below is a roadmap for your first month using simPODD. We will walk with you each step of the way!

Practical tips for setting up simPODD

Don't know how to go about setting up simPODD or want to find out how you make the first few steps with it? Let our expert Isabel Orellana guide you through setup and first steps.
Find the confidence you need to start using and achieve success in AAC with simPODD.
Watch Practical tips for setting up simPODD

Day One. Download the app and select your digital page set: What will you see on the screen of your iPad?

The “page set” is what you will see on the screen when you start using the app. You need to select one from a few different options. Our Help and Support articles will help you get started!

If you aren’t sure which option to select, read Tips on Selecting a Page set and Tips on Customizing your simPODD.

Weeks 1 and 2: Learn to carry your simPODD. See ME, see my simPODD!

Learning to use a communication system (“AAC”) with our sons and daughters means we have to create new habits. Making new habits takes a plan! The most important habit for simPODD is to always have it within reach and use it.

It takes time for something to become a habit. Make the integration of the simPODD in your life easy and convenient:
- How about using a protective case for the iPad? In that way, it provides a better grip for your child, and your iPad is protected.
- With a carry strap, you can carry the iPad hands-free, and it's always within reach.
- You can install the app on multiple iPads, in this way, your child has his/her own simPODD and you have your own.
- A stand can be very handy to keep the iPad upright when your child is seated on a table.

Paper PODD books can make it easier to always have simPODD available. If you have a paper version of simPODD, then you might print extra copies for the other people who spend the most time with your child.

Read more how other parents have worked to set this habit: See me, see MY AAC.

Differences between PODD digital page sets and PODD books in simPODD

simPODD is the only app that offers electronic and paper PODD the same app.

However, please note that it is not possible to directly print the electronic page sets in simPODD. Electronic page sets and paper PODD books are completely separate in simPODD.

We worked in close collaboration with Gayle Porter, the creator of PODD. She has designed PODD books and electronic pages sets in different ways:

  • In the electronic page sets there is no navigation menu that you need in the books.
  • Electronic page sets are only available with 15 and 60 buttons per page.
  • There is a full range of PODD books available, from 9 to 100 buttons per page, in one-page or two-page opening.

To access the PODD book section in simPODD, you need to purchase a yearly subscription. Then, please go into Options > Books and follow the steps on the screen to create a PODD book.

Once you have created and edited your book you can export it to a computer, review the PDF and then print it.

Weeks 3 and 4: Explore your simPODD. What can I say?

All communication systems seem complicated at first. Get to know your simPODD. Let simPODD guide you. Just look at the screen and ask yourself “what can I say?”

A positive message
Let's say you want to comment on how hard your child is working. Look at your home page. Select the message I LIKE THIS. The app will go to a page of positive words, including GREAT, GOOD and AWESOME. Choose one of those words. If none of those words work, then select TURN THE PAGE. That will give you more words to choose from.

A negative message
Maybe you want to complain. Look at your home page. Select SOMETHING IS WRONG. The app will open to a page of words you could say to complain. Maybe you feel TIRED or GRUMPY, or something HURTS. If you select HURT, you will get options of body parts, so that you can show WHERE it hurts. simPODD guides you to finish your message.

Maybe your complaint is really an opinion. Select I DON'T LIKE IT. One person’s YUCKY can be someone else's YUMMY, so you will find negative opinion words here. Select an opinion that explains WHY you DON'T LIKE IT.

Notice how simPODD took you down a path to share each of these messages. The first message you selected on the home page got you started. The additional messages helped you be more specific. We speak messages by selecting a path and then following simPODD where it leads us. If you realize you are on the wrong path, just select OOPS or PAGE BACK to find a different path.

A paper PODD book can be helpful at this stage. It will teach you how the book is organized. In the digital simPODD on your iPad, the app does all the work. It navigates to follow the path all on its own. The paper book is different. The pathways are clearly marked to show you which pages to turn. For example, if you select “Let's Go” on the homepage, the paper book has a number and color that tells you to turn to Places. Many people find that the digital app gets more clear when you can learn these signposts in the paper book.

Read how messages are created in simPODD: Explore your simPODD: what can you say?

Congratulations! You have had simPODD for a month! If you followed these steps, then you have downloaded the app and created a page set. You have set new habits so your simPODD is always available when you have something to say. You have explored the app so you understand how we create messages. In the coming months, your next step is to learn how to model simPODD. Modeling is how you will teach your son or daughter how this system works.

Next steps in learning to use simPODD: simPODD is how we talk together

Learn more through our support materials

We have tons of free resource materials available that will help make your journey a little easier!

Check out these great AAC resources

Here are a couple of great resources to get you started adding to your basic knowledge and understanding:

We hope this information helps get you started. Please let us know if you have any questions. We are always happy to help. And sign up for our newsletter to hear about app updates and other useful information.

Share with peers

You may also be interested in joining one of our Facebook groups to share ideas about what works and doesn't and access new resources. We have a Facebook group for families, one for professionals and one for AAC users. Feel free to join a group below:


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