May 11, 2012

Yes, it’s true. There are apps designed for people with communication impeding disabilities — from sufferers of traumatic brain injuries and children with autism to elderly stroke victims and those with advanced ALS.

These apps help people who have lost the ability to speak, or whose speaking skills have severely degenerated, to regain the ability to communicate. One option that has received a lot of positive feedback and reviews is Voice4U. This is a communication app that can be downloaded to any iPhone, iPad or iTouch, as well as Android systems and the Kindle Fire and NOOK tablets. With the ability to assign pictures to audible words and phrases, and even customize the voice and icon options, your loved one will feel less hindered by the communication barrier that comes with ALS.

Voice4U is currently aiding children and adults of all ages in 30 countries, and it even won the Android Application Awards (A3) Contest Grand Prize. The app’s website has extremely helpful video tutorials that explain how to make the most out of this technology according to your specific purposes and needs.

The Greater Philadelphia chapter of the ALS Association (ALSA) implemented an innovative assistive technology program in 1993. Head to the Augmentative Communication section of ALSA's website to learn more about the assistive technology, like electronic communication aids and speech generating devices (SGD), available for those with ALS.

In our last post, we said we’d provide a tool for you, the family caregiver, as well. So here it is: Lotsa Helping Hands. This is a tool for the caregiver who’s feeling overwhelmed or simply wants a way to organize and ease the many responsibilities that come with providing in-home care. It allows you to create a free, private community website — with interactive calendars, announcement features and meal communication tools — to organize family and friends in times of need. Lotsa Helping Hands partners with a myriad of nonprofit organizations, including the MDA, so you also gain access to lotsa educational resources and programs.

While you can use Lotsa Helping Hands just for its personal website purposes, you should also tap into its blog, webinars, newsletters, directories and demos. These resources provide tips, information and references for everything from support groups to respite care.

Your loved one with ALS deserves as much relief that you can provide, but you deserve some relief as well. Take advantage of the tools that were created to ease your strain and provide you with peace of mind.

Thanks for reading along with us this week. We hope you’ve gained some awareness and insight into ALS and how to provide some relief for both your loved one and yourself. Whether you have close ties to ALS through a family member or friend, or you're simply interested in doing all you can to fight this disease, dedicate the month of May to increasing ALS awareness.[ALS%20Awareness%3A%20%E2%80%9CTher]