Four Tips for Summer AAC

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Summer is in full swing here and we are getting tons of outside play and water play! So how do we keep the iPad safe from water and overheating while also allowing for communication?  

Last year H was happy to leave his Talker with an adult or off to the side while he played and he was very physical outside – frequently needing both hands for his activity. This year he takes strong ownership over the Talker as his voice and wants it on him at all times. He’s got a lot to say and we need to figure out a practical way to keep his Talker safe!

As you can imagine, iPads and direct sun, water, or hot asphalt don’t mix! We have had several incidents where the iPad has shut off and given a temperature error until it cooled off. It makes my heart skip a beat to say the least! H has also thrown it into the water table, jumped into a pool and sprinkler with it, and put it under a running faucet, but it is still alive. So what’s our secret?

First, consider investing in a waterproof case. When we got our second device, an iPad mini, we purchased a Lifeproof FRE case, which is completely waterproof and can stand up to a lot of abuse. When we go outside to play where there is a chance of water exposure we bring that iPad. Our full size iPad has one of those inexpensive foam rubber cases with a handle, which are nice and light but not great at protecting against fluids.

Ziplock bags make a great short term solution! The iPad buttons still work great through a Ziplock bag. I probably wouldn’t trust this to be submerged but it has worked great for situations where when we are playing with the sprinkler or doing messy sensory play (or for when one of the kids has a stomach bug!). I’ve been told that there are companies that make waterproof bags for devices but haven’t looked I to this option myself yet.

Keep the iPad in the shade as much as possible. I hate that this is necessary sometimes because it means that H can’t have access to his voice at all times. There are days where it is 90+ degrees and sunny and we just have to keep the Talker in the shade under the play set or a chair and tell him he has to come to it when he has something to say. He is a good sport about it but I am always upset that he has to choose between playing or talking. Does anyone want to invent a mobile iPad cooler?

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Create a low-tech back-up (but keep the Talker nearby). Many people suggest printing and laminating screen shots of some of the pages and using these during water play or other times the Talker is not accessible. I think this is a workable idea for us *if* the Talker is nearby (perhaps with an adult or in the shade). I don’t like the idea that he wouldn’t have access to all of the words because I’ve learned I could never anticipate what he will say. He needs to be able to talk about everything! For a user that has a small vocabulary set it might be more practical, but H has almost 1,300 words open right now. I do plan to print and laminate the main screen words and a few other screens for use in case of a prolonged power outage and because I think he would love having certain pages to look at while he’s playing in the kiddie pool!

What are your favorite ways to protect your iPads in the Summer? We are taking a beach trip later this Summer and I’m trying to plan for sand exposure, too! Any tips or tricks you can share? Leave them in the comments or on our Facebook page!

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