Ruby is an 8-year-old little girl who lives in the UK with her parents and brother. She has beautiful shiny red hair, bright eyes and autism.
Ruby has been using Proloquo2Go on her iPad for nearly three years. Initially Ruby used a picture exchange communication system, carrying a big book of pictures and either pointing to or handing someone a picture to communicate. However, she became increasingly frustrated with the limitations and not being able to communicate effectively.
Ruby’s parents were having to guess what she was trying to communicate. They were limited by what pictures they had with them, and little Ruby kept having to sift through multiple pages of pictures to find the right one. Her parents could see that Ruby needed to grow and develop independent communication. Ruby needed a voice.
A big step
When Ruby’s mother Laura learned about AAC apps through a family friend, she started to do her research. She knew she was looking for a communication system that would grow with her daughter, allowing freedom of thought. Her parents were convinced that this would also help Ruby reduce the frequency and severity of meltdowns due to lack of verbal language.
Making the move from picture cards to Proloquo2Go was a scary step for the family, as they did not have any professional support. Laura explains: “I still remember the night before we introduced Ruby's "speech pad". I sat taking down all of her food picture cards off the fridge that had been there for the past 2 years. I stuck her iPad in their place with Velcro. I could feel my heart pounding. What would Ruby think in the morning? Would she be distraught without her cards? What if she didn't like the iPad? The next morning she came running into the kitchen and looked excitedly at the fridge. I modeled "I want" and she pressed "savoy crackers”.”
"To see before you what is going to be your child's voice is a moment that is hard to describe to anyone who is not on this journey," Laura says. "We knew we had found something very special that would develop and grow with Ruby.”
Benefits at home and at school
Ruby adapted to Proloquo2Go beautifully and caught on very quickly. This was a surprise as, like many others with autism, Ruby struggles immensely with changes. She still uses pictures in her daily schedule and to help her understand concepts like now, then and next. Everyone’s frustration reduced, and the family even learned that Ruby can read and type out words.
In her homeschool work, Ruby is using Proloquo2Go more and more and switching between English and Spanish to help her with learning Spanish. Proloquo2Go is key to all her learning and is fully integrated into Ruby’s homeschool curriculum along with an alphabet board for Spelling lessons.
Before Ruby started using communication solutions, no one in the wider family or friends had ever come across the technology so people had reservations. They thought an AAC solution would prevent Ruby from developing speech. This is a common misconception. However, research shows that using AAC does not keep a child from learning to talk. In fact, many children will make gains in speech because AAC helps build successful communication. The same has happened for Ruby; Proloquo2Go has encouraged her to make many verbal approximations, whilst prior she had little to no speech. Now, Ruby’s grandparents are hands-on with Proloquo2Go, too! Ruby’s grandmother models language when they are in the community. Ruby is responding very well to modeling, especially when outdoors.
“Proloquo2Go has given us a channel into Ruby's world and indeed has given her a forum to communicate with us. She can tell us if she is in pain, she can complain about my TV choice (!) and she can tell me she loves me,” says Laura.