Thursday, November 7, 2013

Meet the new addition: THE PODD

It's been a busy day at Casa Dulock. Today, we were introduced to the newest member of our family: The PODD, or the "Pragmatic Organization Dynamic Display Communication Book".

What is a PODD you ask? Well, in simple terms, it is a low-tech communication device which will allow me to model visually the use of language for Sammie, with a long term goal of him being able to use the book to communicate his own thoughts, wants, needs, and desires.

It's a pretty exciting tool, but a lot to wrap my head around.

The concept is simple- We build phrases in structured parts, using specific images and phrases, within the context of a conversation. I use the PODD as a modelling device, with an emphasis on my own thoughts and feelings, and encourage Sammie to the do same to express himself.

It has about 50 pages, each identified by various categories and labels. Each page has 9 main symbols, and a series of sub-symbols such as "turn the page" or "oops" for when you have navigated to the wrong page accidentally.

Each PODD is individualized to the child's needs, interests, tastes, activities, etc. This allows for great precision when it comes to communicating wants, needs, likes and dislikes.

Here's a short video showing the PODD in action.

Where some symbol-based communication systems are based solely in selecting images, the PODD combines imagines/pictures with voice/sign prompts to create an entire concept.  It isn't enough to show a picture of a dog. That, in itself, doesn't actually convey anything more than "this is a dog."  With the PODD, you would also indicate that you have "something to say" about the "dog". You could then identify if you have a question or a comment, and whether you want to pet the dog or whether it frightens you. It is driven by the guiding principle of vocabulary, beyond just the simple use of words, and can be as simple or as intricate as the situation dictates.

It is intuitive, comprehensive and awesome.

And, right now, it's also totally overwhelming.

You see, there's going to be a serious learning curve with this one, and that's hard for me to accept. I have been waiting so long for actual practical tools that I want to be able to dive into it head first and nail the landing on the first attempt.

But that's not how these things work. I have to learn it before I can teach it.

So apparently my weekend plans have now become spoken for. I'm going to be spending a lot of time getting acquainted with my new friend PODD and finding simple ways to start integrating the model into our every day lives. I will also have to manage my expectations carefully to give Sammie a long time to adjust to this model before expecting him to pick up on it overnight. I suspect that will be a struggle for me, as patience is not a virtue I'm particularly known for. ;)

So I will read. And I will practice. And I will annoy my friends by using them as PODD practice guinea pigs.

But first, I'm probably going to start by creating a strap for it so that I can wear it around, because this thing is HEAVY!

So, PODD, welcome to the Dulock family. I know we're going to become fast friends.

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