Shabby Miss Jenn

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Speaking of Communication

This post is a long time coming, but I've finally been able to capture some good footage on video! At this time I won't go into the pros and cons of different communication devices--I definitely have my opinions!--but instead focus on what is working for us right now.

Our family anxiously awaited the debut of the Apple iPad. Not just because we are MAC groupies, but because we knew that it would eventually be a voice for Wade. I had previously learned of the Proloquo2go app from a friend at work, but I didn't think it was feasible for Wade on the iPhone. I did know it would be our first purchase once the iPad arrived.

Curtis ordered the iPad online, and quite honestly, once we received it and introduced it to Wade, we just kind of played with it. It was the end of the school year, and things were very hectic. I really couldn't get a grasp on the best positioning for Wade to use it, and I was a little unsure as to how he would use it since he's quite limited motorically with his hands. So, instead of focusing on communication, we just let Wade play with it to get used to the device. His favorite two apps in the very beginning were Fish School and The ABC Book by Dr. Seuss.

Wade and I traveled to VA in June where we stayed for most of the month. Wade was having a bit of trouble with the screen "rolling" under his hands on the proloquo app. So, when he would try to make a choice, he would move his hand, the screen would scroll, and he would loose his choice. (FYI--our ST contacted proloquo and they said that they are planning a feature to "lock" the scroll function on the next update. Hope this happens!) So, I got crafty and made a key guard out of some craft foam. This little edge helped keep his had from sliding across the screen. However, the bigger problem seemed to be his spasticity, especially when he was REALLY trying.

One afternoon I was sitting on the floor with Wade in my lap. I had the iPad resting on his legs as I tried to manipulate his arms and hands. At one point I was talking to my mom and not really paying attention. The next thing I knew, the device "spoke". I looked down and watched as Wade was activating the iPad with his head! I was absolutely amazed and so thrilled that he overcame this obstacle on his own! His head has always been his favored modality. He has a lot of control of it, and has learned to a lot with it--turns pages of books with his nose and even uses his lips and mouth to try to accomplish things.

As the summer progressed, I really didn't concentrate on using the iPad for communication. We played with it a lot, and Wade really got the hang of it. During speech therapy, his therapist would use it for sequencing stories and making choices, etc. At speech he actually used it for work/communication but at home he just wanted to play. (He was actually so into it that some awesome therapists at Cook's decided to find a way to get one of their own!) It got to the point that we would have to hide it because if he saw it he would scream. I couldn't give it to him for just a bit and take it away to do something else or he would scream. Well, actually I could've, but at the time it wasn't a battle I wanted to fight so I just didn't give it to him.

As the months have passed, Wade and I have both gotten a better grasp on the "communication" and learning side of the iPad. I can now present it to Wade for him to make choices and then put it to the side without him freaking out! He's finally making the association that this little device is his voice. I am one happy mama:-) We've always known that Wade is a smartie, but he just didn't have the means to express his knowledge. When we were visiting the neurologist the other week, we were working on his numbers while the loopy medicine was taking effect for Botox. He's one smart cookie, and he's so proud of himself!

Besides identifying his numbers, Wade can identify all 26 upper and lower case letters of the alphabet. Just tonight he told me how old he is, and he also told me what letter his name starts with as well as Mom, Dad, Jordan, Grandpa and Nonnie. The kid is smarter than I give him credit for:-) Of course I've always known in my heart that his cognition wasn't an issue, but to actually see and witness that it's not, is just beyond words!


Kelly in TX said...

LOVE it!! Go Wade!!

Sandra said...

This is absolutely amazing...and you need to show your OT Wade using his hands...I'd love to know what she thinks! And yes, I've always known Wade was super smart...and he outsmarts us on many occasions! Please be sure you share any/all apps you find that are motivating and useful. We need them for the clinic iPad. :)