Nearly a year ago we put in an application for a speech assisted device from Arizona Long Term Care. Between the application processing, the assessment, more paperwork and delivery we finally received it almost 3 months ago. We were given a Ipad air 2 (Yes, my youngest son is the techiest of us all!) with two really helpful programs. One is called Pictello and essentially we can create our own picture stories with our voice recorded or the computer voice reading. The first thing I created was a picture story of his typical day at school so that perhaps he wouldn't need to be herded so much and would automatically proceed to the next activity. It was really nice since I could take pictures at the school with the actual items he uses.
The second program was Touchchat. Initially I was extremely frustrated about it. We had just written up Eli's IEP where I asked that all his teachers would use and learn to set up the program for themselves. I had hoped to get training done at the school but apparently that isn't an option. In addition the at home training was so backed up I would be looking at 3 months before that could occur. There were free training sessions available but they filled very quickly and with our large family it was hard to find a time slot that would work. Needless to say I was really irritated.
Initially he was very resistant to using it but once he understood the power of it he was much more willing. The first day his preschool teacher asked what he wanted to do, he touched the 'I want' button that gave him other options. Next he touched 'books' and he ran off to the reading corner. She was pretty surprised by it but it helps others to see that he comprehends so much more than he can communicate. He still hates using it with our family, I suppose it's that we can understand him without it and he knows it. It hasn't replaced his language, according to his therapists he is more vocal. There are less tantrums and throwing when he is finished with tasks. Combined with his vocalization attempts he seems to be coming out of his shell a little more which makes me so happy.
We've also begun paying for a speech program called Gemiini. The videos are anything but entertaining, but he is really attentive and I can see him try to shape his lips as he watches. It was also added into his IEP and one of the team members was extremely excited to hear that we were using it. In addition to speech there are reading programs. Some studies show that DS children will 'read' long before speaking. It's not so much that they sound out words but that they recognize that C-A-T means cat. Their visual memory is extremely strong. He watches it at school and his teacher has said she wants to use some of the reading ones for all her students. In fact she just purchased the cords needed to play it on her smartboard. Perhaps in that way when others are viewing it with he, he will not feel so isolated from his peers.
Maybe in the future it will help us avoid the following pictures:
He works so hard to do the things he does. We see it but I don't think we will ever know his level of frustration and also triumph. He's my little hero!