Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Finding Asa's voice

I didn't realize the link didn't take! So sorry, try this....

I'm trying to get used to this tablet and blogging on it.

Asa went to school today. I tried to tell his teachers that he was pretty crabby. Sure enough when I picked him up he was in a mood! I think he did OK most if the day. Its just that when the teachers and therapist have a plan and goals he usually doesn't want to go along with it! Imagine that! The teacher said that while Asa wouldn't work for the PT, he did the same work with another person in the room. Leave it to him to not follow the game plan!

He has been scheduled to work with a person (I forgot the title) who will recommend a type of communicator for him. That work started today. My understanding is that they will try several types of things and see what works best for Asa.They'll then try to get insurance to pay for my boy a voice. That's what I walked in on today. A therapist was wanting him to work the cause and effect game on the computer with a switch button. And while this is normally an activity he likes to do its a whole different story when someone wants him to do it!

Right now we use PECS (Picture Exchange Communication System) cards. I have Asa's cards on pieces of contertop samples, tied together with a zip tie that I can then clip onto his wheelchair or carry with us. Asa really likes the tiles and cards and mostly we use then by us showing him the thing he has chosen. For instance, if he is coloring I'll get the card with the crayons on it and talk about how he is choosing crayons. But just this week Asa sorted out 3 cards and handed them out to me. I mumbled something in response but he stuck them out to me again. The kicker came when he stuck them out to me again and signed "please". It was only after he signed that I saw he was handing me the "cookie" card!!!! Of course I jumped up and found him a cookie, well a pop tart but that's the closest thing to a cookie that he can eat. Later I did find a WhoNu? Oreo cookie and broke it up for him. I think he'd just soon have the softer pop tart over the messy Oreo. On a side note, have out tried these WhoNu? Cookies. They are supposed to be healthy but taste like a real cookie. I think they are pretty good. I won't buy the Oreo again but the chocolate chip are good. Anyway, here's a pic of the PECS cards Asa handed me!

I've also been using my iPhone as a communicator for him too. My favorite app is the Answers:YesNo by Simplified Touch. Its a basic 2 button screen so he can make choices. At first the app only did Yes or No. On an update though I started being able to program the 2 choices. He really stared to understand this app when I programed "Pop tart" and "Pedisure" as his choices. When he picked "Pedisure" he got the cup if Pedisure instead of the Pop tart that he really wanted! He still isn't great at the choices because he really likes to just tap, tap, tap!

A more involved app is TapToTalk. You can add your own albums and pictures but so far we just use the basic free ones. I use this often when Asa is having a meltdown. I can go to the emotion page, choose the frustrated face, and then "I want to relax" button. Then we lay down on the couch while he pokes my ears until he calm and ready to face the world again. We also use the drink choices. I tap the milk or juice choices and Asa will hit the soda button a million times in a row!

I also use TapToTalk on the tablet and that was a biggie in deciding to get the tablet. Sadly the android market doesn't have any of the other apps or anything similar.

I've also toyed around with MyTalk and like certain things about it. Its very easy to take a pic of the object and use the app right away. Again I haven't really tried to change the settings though so I can't verify the ease of use overall.

All of these apps are cheap, cause that's how I roll! In fact I think the yes/no was. 99 and the other two are the free versions. These programs can be very expensive but if the freebies work then I'll use it!!!

I'm not sure what the school will decide. And don't really care as long as he is able it tell us his needs and wants. At some point it'd be great to carry on full conversations but right now we just need the needs and wants! I wish he'd pick up signing more easily. There is no equipment or programs to load or buy or carry around. Today he actually signed "I love you" to the dog! Complete with the point to the dog!! Even when he signs it to us, we don't get the point, just the "love"! My deepest hope is that I'll hear his sweet little voice saying Moma or Daddy!!! Until then we'll keep on trying to find the best way for him to share his ideas and thoughts with us!

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