Help for Parents of Kids with Cerebral Palsy: There’s an App for That

Cerebral Palsy and other conditions that result in children with special needs are being diagnosed earlier these days. That does not really help those once they receive the diagnosis. The hospitals are becoming more able to recommend therapists and channel newly shocked parents towards strategists and specialists that will help them reconstruct a happy life out of the brokenness that is brought with these diagnoses.Those first few years of life can be extremely difficult for those with children who have any kind of palsy. Most often the culprit of palsy is denial of oxygen to the brain either in utero or during the delivery. The potential damage can be monumental or only slightly noticeable. Such was not the case for Martin Brooks and his wife.

Their daughter, Mia, had a common struggle with being unable to communicate effectively with her parents. There are many books and many strategies on working with pre-communication or developmentally delayed children with their communication. In the schools I have worked in, we used either a flash card system, or in the case of wealthy parents, a tablet pc that had a touch screen with the different pictures on it. These strategies are popular because they are largely effective with the majority of kids and adults out there who struggle with these difficulties in communication. Mia was not progressing for whatever reason with these traditional strategies and rather than succumb to the chance that their daughter was “done” developmentally, Martin developed the foundation for the IComm app, which seeks to combine the flash card idea with the modern technology developmental wave.

The app works like a mobile flash card database that uses each card in a thumbnail and the person is able to search quickly through the categories and then tap on the image to make it full screen. Very simple and to the point. There is an availability to customize the pictures, and audio files in the pay version, to fit your particular needs or wants and that really is probably the backbone of what parents are looking for in these types of products.

The pros are the obvious ability to communicate with someone who is unable to communicate through traditional means. Besides the perceived special needs uses, this app could be expanded to help with those who do not speak your same language, those learning to read, etc. I appreciated the simple architecture of the app, there was  not a whole lot of unnecessary button clicking. For myself, having worked extensively with people with special needs, attention and time are two things that have been stretched really thin while trying to work with people of all ages and different needs.  This app  was colorful and attractive, which may seem minor, but a lot of the products that are available to work with these populations are very clinical and drab.

The negative is in the ceiling that is there with helping someone develop past these simple commands. With cerebral palsy and other special needs, that development may never happen and that is understood. The other uses spoken about earlier are the ones that would be limited. Hopefully your child can progress past using this app because that shows that their communication is growing and they are able to learn new things and become bigger and more mature.

All together the app is solid to work with a myriad of different situations and I applaud Martin’s ingenuity in developing something for the mobile generation. Hopefully this app has helped many and will continue long after this review is posted. If you are in a situation that needs to utilize pictures and audio to be able to communicate with someone who cannot, this is definitely a step in a positive and hope-filled direction.

Chris Weber

Chris Weber is a school liaison. He and his wife make their home in Azle, TX.

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