Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Delving Into an AAC

Dean had his combo OT/speech session today (he also gets speech another 3x/week) at Children's, where they introduced an AAC. Not knowing that we got our iPad this week (!), his SLP had a Novochat (not sure of the spelling) to use for Dean instead.

This device is dynamic, meaning that you touch one thing and it opens up another. Touch the picture of "I want" and it opens up options like, "to go," "to play," "to eat," etc. Touch one of those and it has options of what you want TO eat, TO play, where TO go, etc. And so on.

Dean was very interested in the AAC and really concentrated on the options to be able to tell us what he wanted. The computer speaks so that when you touch a picture, it says the words that go with it. Even though it wasn't Dean's real speaking voice, it was almost a rush to hear him "speak" through the computer voice on this device. Dean picked up on the idea really quickly, and selected, "I want," then "to play," then "with blocks." When presented with options for the blocks, he selected "build them," and "my turn," and then proceeded to stack the blocks they had!! I started crying. I KNOW all these concepts are in his head, but because he can't yet speak them, it's sometimes hard to remember 100% that they ARE there.

The biggest factor holding Dean back with the AAC was his fine motor skills. Sometimes, when he went to touch a picture with his index finger, his thumb would hang down and hit another picture before he could touch the one he wanted. His SLP said that is going to be the challenge for using this. We're going to look into other AAC devices, including using the iPad in particular (which we'll continue using at home anyway), until we find the one that is best for Dean. Please continue to pray that he would find his voice and that he will learn (soon, I hope) to speak.

On another note, there is a national campaign sponsored by Michelle Obama where a PWS video is in the running. Winning this vote would mean NATIONAL awareness in an opportunity to speak about PWS! Not to mention that it could shed a light on related problems such as obesity and metabolic issues. See more info and follow the link to vote HERE! Thank you!


Kim said...

I know I'm always commenting on your speech posts :) but just wanted to say I'm so glad to hear that Dean was able to put those ideas together into sentences like that. That is HUGE. My Mallory is talking now (she doesn't have a true diagnosis besides being developmentally delayed with language being the main issue) but the hardest thing is putting full sentences together and with her, I kind of feel like her expressive and receptive skills are about equal at this point. I think the fact that Dean could be introduced to a new device and be using it appropriately (with some help of course) all in the same day is great news for his language and cognitive skills. It also shows the HUGE gap in his receptive skills vs. expressive. Is he having PROMPT therapy? I know I have asked before but since it seems to be such a motor issue with him (he has the ideas and even the words but he just isn't able to produce them himself) I think that would have to be the best option for him. Sounds like you are headed in the right direction!

Ali Foley Shenk said...

His therapists are not PROMPT trained, per se, but they are using a lot of the PROMPT strategies. So far, not really much improvement at all. :/ I thought there was some progress, but then Dean seems to go backwards again. I don't know why.