Calvin has made amazing gains in his communication skills over the years, but he is still essentially non-verbal. Over the years we've offered him as many different communication options as we could find - sign language, pecs, word-cards, yes/no cards, computer keyboards, and "talking machines".
The Vantage by Prentke Romich was his primary form of communicating for a couple of years. This machine was wonderful - a touch-screen computer (without a flip-up lid) that could be carried wherever he went. Calvin would push buttons on the touch-screen and the machine would "talk" for him. As he got better with the machine we would update the screen with more icons, more drill-down choices, and more sentence structuring options.
The downside, if you could even call it that, was its size & weight. It's approximately 10 inches x 6 inches x 2 inches (estimates only as I don't have it in front of me). That's actually pretty small, but it weighs in at several pounds. We've sent quite a few back for repair after being dropped..
The other downside is cost; weighing in at about $7,000 is quite a barrier for many families.
Recently Proloquo2Go developed an app for the iPhone and iPod Touch which turns those devices into "talkers", very similar to Calvin's Vantage. The iTouch might not have 100% of the capability of the Vantage, but considering the cost savings (approx $7,500 less expensive) and the difference in size (fits in any pocket), I would give this a try first!
Here's a story about it as reported in USAToday.
Thanks to good friend and great Mom Tracey for sending this our way.