In my last How-To post, I mentioned that when you set up an iPad for a child with autism, you need to consider the purpose. If the purpose is to help that child communicate with an Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) app, then many specialists might tell you to not put any other apps on the iPad; other apps will serve as a distraction and then the child will not use the AAC app at all. I agree with this statement, but I also know the reality. Many families simply cannot afford to have one tablet for an AAC app, and another for educational apps and games.
That’s where Guided Access comes in handy. Simply put, Guided Access allows you to disable the “home” button on the iPad, so your child will be forced to focus on the app of your choosing.
When we first started using Proloquo2Go with Quentin, Guided Access did not exist yet. We had a lot of trouble getting him to stay on the app, as he knew how to press the home button. (Read about the early days of our AAC saga here. And a more recent update here.) So when Apple created this feature, I knew this would be the only way we could get him to use an AAC app like Proloquo2Go.
I was going to write up directions for how to use this feature, but decided it might be easier to make a video. Click on the video below to see how. (If you cannot see the video, click here to view directly on YouTube.)
At this point, Quentin still uses Proloquo2Go at school, where they set up Guided Access on his iPad. At home, he is allowed to use the iPad for leisure activities. Sometimes he goes into Proloquo on his own, just to play around. I think he likes to hear the words spoken out loud. I only use Guided Access when I really want him to communicate with it. However, his speech ability is increasing so nicely that it seems like he does not need the app as much! (I will give more of an update on this in a separate post.)
I hope this post helps some parents out there struggling to figure out how to use an AAC app on their iPad. Feel free to comment about how your experience with using an iPad as an AAC device.