Choose a region
When you open the app, the first thing to do is choose a region. The option for English (US) uses American spellings, like “color.” It uses terms more common in North America, like “cafeteria” or “preschool.” Familiar North American animals (like squirrels, skunks, beaver and chipmunks) will be easy to find in the Animal category.
The option for English (Australia) uses British spellings, like “colour.” The Australian region also uses terms like “canteen” or “kinder.” The category of animals has more Australian creatures, like platypus and wombat.
These differences are minor. You can edit any term later.
The region you choose will affect how you print books. The region is paired with the page setup and paper size used in that region. Choose US for North American “letter” size of 8.5” X11. Choose AU for European/Australian A4 size paper.
Choose a page set
Your next job is to select a “page set.” You will have 6 options. Choosing between them is simpler than it looks!
Your first 4 options have 15 symbols on each page. These are all labeled PODD 15. Two of your options have 60 symbols on each page. These are labeled PODD 60.
PODD 15 is designed for anyone just learning to communicate with AAC. The PODD 15 will help your son or daughter learn to communicate for many reasons. It will support your son or daughter to learn how they can comment, share opinions, request things, ask questions, complain, and use words to play.
PODD 15 Preschool
If your son or daughter has not yet started kindergarten, then the Preschool version is probably best. The Preschool option has space for “preschool places” and “preschool people.” It also has folders for the kinds of activities we see in a preschool, like circle time, race cars, blocks, and doll play.
PODD 15 School
If your son or daughter has started school, then the School option will work best. This page set still includes folders for play with toys like dolls and blocks. But the School option also includes folders with words for different subjects in school, like music and science.
If your son or daughter has finished school, then I would still select the School option. You can edit the words based on where your son or daughter goes, lives and works. The toy pages can be edited to the activities they most enjoy.
Should I choose PODD 15 or PODD 15+?
There are two options for both the Preschool and School page set: 15 and 15+. If your son or daughter is a true beginner, then I recommend PODD 15. The PODD 15 uses two different buttons to say “I LIKE THIS” or “I DON’T LIKE THIS.” If your son or daughter does not yet comment a lot on what they like or don’t like, then use the regular 15. Learning to express opinions is powerful. We want to make it as simple as possible until your son or daughter is in the habit of sharing their opinions and preferences. The PODD 15 will help you teach your son or daughter to use the “I THINK IT’S” message over time.
If your son or daughter already uses AAC, then the 15+ might be best. The 15+ is for people who are combining symbols to express short messages. In the 15+, the symbols for “I LIKE THIS” and “I DON’T LIKE THIS” have been combined into one opinion message: “I THINK IT’s.” This saves room on the screen for an extra message.
The PODD 15+ has options for making proper sentences and using proper grammar. For example, the PODD 15+ can choose between pronouns like I/me/my. It can indicate past or future tense, like do/did/does.
If your son or daughter is new to AAC and does not use symbols yet, or only uses one or two symbols at a time, then just stick with the PODD 15. This will keep everyone focused on using the most powerful words, rather than worrying about details like grammar. But if they are putting 1-2 symbols together to make longer messages, then you might choose the 15+. The PODD 15+ will give your son or daughter the tools to learn to make short sentences over time.
The PODD 60
The PODD 60 page sets have 60 symbols on the page. Consider a PODD 60 if your son or daughter has learned to combine 3-4 symbols to make short sentences.
The PODD 60 Expanded Key Word page set use symbols and whole words. It also has options to add “-ed” or “-ing” to change the tense. The PODD 60 books have options to make it faster to construct a message, such as sentence starters.
The PODD 60 Complex Syntax supports the most complex sentences. Choose this one if your son or daughter can combine symbols and whole words to make proper sentences. The PODD 60 Complex Syntax has extra steps to support proper grammar. For example, every verb has a small pop-up to select the correct tense. This will likely frustrate people who are still learning about tenses. Only select the PODD 60 Complex Syntax if your son or daughter is good with grammar and tenses.
This article is part of a series that chronicles the journey of adding simPODD successfully to your AAC gear. It’s written by Erin, mom to Maggie.
Interested to learn more about simPODD, these articles will help you get started: