Before you start using Avaz, it's important to bear these in mind:
Presume Competence - Have faith in your child and assume that your child is COMPETENT. It's really important that you believe in their ability to learn and communicate.
Introduce the child to the device and the app. You can call it by a name that makes it easy to identify and refer to - e.g. Avaz / talker. E.g. Bring Avaz. Let’s use Avaz.
Make sure the device has no other games/apps installed except Avaz app. For any other entertainment, use other devices, since it can be distracting to the child. We want that the child identifies the device as their own “voice” and exclusive for their communication. For accessing entertainment (e.g. YouTube) try using the parents’ phones instead, if another device is not available.
Keep Avaz accessible to the child at ALL times! Keep it within the child’s reach and in their view.
Allow the child to babble. Initially, the child may not be using Avaz meaningfully. Allow them to tap random buttons with Avaz, but safely. This helps them to independently explore various options and discover words on their own by ‘playing’ with the app before you start “modeling” the app. It is a part of their learning process and is not to be discouraged. Tap here on how to respond to the child’s attempt to communicate. Click here to see How to attribute meaning to the child’s response?
And don’t assume “he’s just playing with it” and take it away. Acknowledge what the child is saying, draw meaning from it and respond appropriately.
6. Model, Model, Model the use of AAC everyday
By 18 months, neuro-typical kids have heard 4380 hours of spoken language. If AAC users see symbols for only 30 minutes twice a week, they would become 84 years old by the time they are exposed to the same extent of receptive language. ( as per Research by Jane Korsten -2011)
To understand more about language development for an AAC user vs typically developing child, tap here to read Important facts about AAC user vs typically developing user.
7. Always praise your child's attempt to communicate.
Clap your hands, or say "Good job, you said WANT", "Great job, you tapped BANANA", "wonderful! you are telling me you want to DRINK", etc. The praise not only motivates the child, but also gives the child verbal feedback of their attempt. You can model an extra word as you give them feedback.
Accept all modes of communication - gestures, picture boards etc. Acknowledge any communication attempt made by the child and respond to the same. Refer to How to respond to the child’s attempt to communicate?
Be Patient to persist with the app, and don't give up after a few trials. If you feel that you're not seeing much progress, don't get frustrated. The problem may not lie with the app nor with the child - you can try different strategies that can definitely help. Remember that AAC is for all!
Every child is unique and different. Don't compare your child with others and their milestones. Some may take days and others may take months. Each child learns at their own pace, in their own time and has their own journey!
Do not pressurize the child into using the app. Don’t insist on them using the app to communicate basic needs, for which they already have established gestures or other means of communication.
Team Avaz is around to hand-hold you through this journey! So, sit back and relax :)
For understanding more strategies for using Avaz - refer to the section Strategies for encouraging the child to communicate?