Thursday, January 15, 2009

Communication device

As a baby Max never really babbled much or even tried to imitate words or sounds. He started speech therapy I think around 9 months of age. I switched SLP (speech language pathologists) a few times. None really worked that great with him or they would except too little from him. Then He got one that really seems to click with him and he did a little better. Then he started school (Pre-K) and had another really good SLP. She knew how to bribe him with fruit snacks! Still he had very little sounds or words. His first word was either Nah for no of Gee for Go. So word approximations, really. He has been adding more and more sounds and words, but VERY slowly. Right now he is 7 1/2 years old and just recently has started putting 2 words together. Those are simple ones, like- Joe NO, or Ike NO -- You get the idea. He still doesn't have a ton of words. Even the ones he does have most of them are approximations.

I have always used sign language with him. Really it is total communication. Signs and words together. Pete isn't into sign language but whatever! Daddy had no idea what Max is signing most the time because he doesn't want to learn it. They are simple signs, not hard to do or learn. Max uses signs has his basic way of communicating. He can finger-spell faster than anyone I know too! Granted, I don't know anyone else that finger-spells! He can count using signs up too- I have no idea how high. He does his ABC's pretty darn fast too. He signs all his sight words as well. When Max learns a new sound or word, he drops the sign. That is how signing is supposed to work. Kids sign the words until they can speak it. Generally that is a lot younger than 7! But anyway, he is getting there. SLOWLY, but hopefully surely!

Examples- Max drinks orange juice, all the time. He used to sign for it (sign 'orange'). I started making him say "O" then added each new sound. That took a LONG time but he now says orange. Same with Pizza. He signed it, I had him start making a "P" sound and continued on. Now he says "Eizza." Still working on the "P."

When Max was in Pre-K, I think when he was 4 ish, he got a communication device. It was a simple box that was a "seven layer" system. It could be programmed with 4 maybe even just 2, pictures on up to 16 pictures. He pushes the button, the device says the word. The words were recorded by a person, as in whoever was setting it up could change the words and record new ones right then and there. The 7 layer part is that you could have 7 different 'screens' that were switched out manually. It was quick and simple to do but still took time. It didn't have sentence building capabilities. However, he didn't need them either. He used it at school and not really at home. He would bring it home at times but he never used it. I generally know what he wants. I understand his sounds, signs and gestures- most of the time. Max has outgrown this device. So school and myself had a meeting a couple months ago to get him a new one that could grow with him even more. We all decided on the DynaVox V. It is basically a mini computer! Check out the website if your interested. We had a meeting this morning (at 8:30!! that is early for my kids!) about how to program and use the thing. We covered some of the basics, and it took an hour and a half. We have another meeting in 2 weeks. Max got to pick out the color. What color did he pick?-- black. I guess he didn't like the green one, like me.

I think Max will really like this device. There are several voices to pick from (including your own!), it has sentence building, it can download games and misc stuff from online and takes a variety of pictures, including digital ones. When it is first turned on it goes straight to the communication part- that is picking out the pictures to "talk." However, if you push (it's touch screen by the way) a certain key it takes you to a normal looking desktop, complete with a 'start' menu. I'm sure he could cause all sorts of havoc once he got there. So we decided it would be best to password protect that part! It can be updated without it being right there in front of you. But it does need to be sync'd for it to download the changes.

He will get it tomorrow right before school gets out. He has the whole weekend (3 day weekend by the way) to play with it and check it out. I'll try and write more about it in a few weeks after we use it to tell you how we like it.


SunflowerMom said...

How exciting for Max! I had just read the Rocking Pony posts about the ACD they are using. Technology is wonderful!

Kim said...

That is really neat. Mattie is 10 months...soon to be 11 and is behind in her language development. All she says mostly is da-da and a little babbling. I've started teaching her simple signs like eat, milk, and bath. Daddy hasn't quite gotten on board. Glad you shared so I can keep that in the back of my mind as she grows!

Debbie Yost said...

I'll be anxious to hear how Max is doing. Peanut is beginning the process to get her first device. I'm hoping she'll be able to bring it home with her. Maybe we can get together some time and let them "talk" to each other. LOL :)

Karen said...

That's awesome! He'll absolutely love it and the good thing is that he'll never outgrow it. Of course, nothing is as awesome as him learning new words. Two words together brings a tear to my eye.

WheresMyAngels said...

Wait, go back. He finger spells? No way! That is amazing. I'm sitting her in shock. Finger spelling is HARD!