Swiftkey Symbols

Swiftkey symbols

Have you seen this new app for those with Autism Spectrum Disorder or with learning disabilities?

I have just come across it and wanted to share my initial thoughts. A free app for people to use that helps them communicate more easily is a positively fabulous idea most especially as it seems to be linking into the users choices/expressions or ‘routine-based activity’ to bring forward images for them quickly. And as they explain this as an example for Autism is beneficial.

It’s good to have a whole range of words a pictures to choose from in order to better ‘speak’ in sentences as oppose to just one word or picture or indeed phrase as on the PECS boards, this I think is a brilliant idea! However, I’m not as convinced as the speech and language therapist linked to this project is.


Firstly, the pictures and the words are so small you almost have to squint to see them and secondly, to me more importantly, are these symbols really what the child/adult means / wants to say or needs. On many occasions I have been witness to for example a child  communicating through these apps and have found myself feeling that there is a whole big universe of language underneath this ‘symbol language’ that perhaps is more vital.

The non-verbal, the kinaesthetic the affective resonance that comes through attunement that one needs to understand and appreciate to truly communicate with the child/adult with learning disabilities and or autism. On some level I feel these apps ‘take something away’ from the professional going that extra mile into that universe of deeper sensing and relationship.

"Some young children with ASD may however have a good command of the spoken word, especially in relation to a topic that interests them. Although the language may appear sophisticated, on closer examination, there will often be a lack of clear understanding. They may take things literally and conversations may be very one sided." 

Autism Cymru

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