Hello, all! This post was inspired by Kate Ahern’s session titled “Bringing AAC Home” at ATIA in Orlando that Vicki and I attended. She had some great ideas and insight about our kiddos using their AAC devices at home and in the community. Many of us don’t have the opportunity to provide services to our clients outside the speech clinic (at home, in the community, at school), so we don’t always know how much their voice is heard when we aren’t in therapy. This does not mean, of course, that their needs aren’t met. I understand there are many things that need to be done at home and using an AAC device can sometime s be viewed as “homework” that may or may not get done.
These thoughts during Kate’s session of course made me think of a “rockstar” mom who always comes to therapy with great stories about her son, Cody. I have some amazing families who consistently use their children’s devices in every aspect of their lives, but this family is exceptional and I wanted to share a great story. Cody has Cerebral Palsy and uses a Tobii I-15 eye gaze device to communicate. He’s only had it a few months, but consistently surprises us with his quick wit, humor, and attitude. I want to take this opportunity to share one of the best stories about Cody and how he uses his device in the community. Below is the email I received from Cody’s mom after I saw them sitting in our parking lot after therapy one day:
First, my funny story from yesterday. So, I had to get a new tire put on the car due to my careless curb-job (which was the best one I think I've ever done). I had to find out which Ford dealer had a tire like my other ones. Cody was getting ill. He likes to see you then eat lunch. He doesn't like sitting in the car if we are not moving! So, he was cranky during lunch and the dealer said it would be 2 hour wait. I was so nervous and the anxiety set in. I know what Cody is capable of when he does not want to do something.
So we go to Woodstock and we wait and wait and wait. The child was an angel!! We tried to download games to his computer and I was so stressed out, I couldn't ever figure it out! He didn't let out a peep. He played the games that were already on his computer and then I said, hey, lets talk. So I asked him a few questions and he never responded. So I decide to check out facebook on my phone. His screen was at his home page. All of I sudden I heard ‘not fair, not fair, not fair, I don't like it, I don't like it, I don't like it’ Everyone look up and Cody had a big smile on his face. I asked him if he was tired and it was unfair he had to spend his afternoon at the dealer he said ‘uh-huh’!!! I thought I would fall out of my chair laughing!! Then he kept looking at ‘gross, gross, gross’ I asked him if he could something a little nicer, and I got no response.
He was saying ‘different, different’ then looking at the TV. I asked him if they should change the channel. He said ‘uh-huh’. Crack me up!! So long story but we got our tire and were on our merry way!”
This is such a great story for many reasons. First: Cody’s mom takes his device EVERYWHERE and sets it up for him-even if he doesn’t appear to have something to say. Second: We all ask our kids so many questions- and when she stopped asking, he sure gave an opinion! Third: I should’ve mentioned that Cody’s mom drives him to see me from about 45 miles away (that’s almost Tennessee so the travel takes a few hours) and they have amazing attendance.Fourth: We don’t have much “formal” knowledge of Cody’s literacy skills, so he is either reading the words or has already learned the symbols and navigation of the device from his home screen. Either way, he’s amazing!Finally: This parent is doing everything she can to allow her son to communicate as often as those of us with natural voices. I don’t give them homework because I know they create their own J Please enjoy the pictures I’ve included as proof!