Thanks Rebecca. We had a loaner for quite some time and I got fairly proficient with the programming. But then we had to turn it in while wwe waited for Nik’s (months). All of a sudden I can’t remember a darn thing! Thank goodness PRC has free online training! LOL
The school has an 8 button one we’ve been allowed to borrow. He’s not that interested in it, but it has been helpful for things like “how are you today”. He’s now able to say “fine” or “I am crying” when he’s upset. Although the button says “sad”.
I’m still debating taking him to be assessed for one. The province will pay 90% for one if you qualify.. but he’s still speaking… So is it worth the money or not???
@kajoli, Dynavox makes great products, too. The key, we discovered, is in knowing and understanding the way the end-user learns best/fastest. For some it’s a very visual thing; Dynavox is great at that. For Nik, it’s more about specific sequences and patterns; the PRC devices are wonderful because the location of things in the core NEVER changes. It’s designed around motor planning. The PRC website has some great information and demos your friend can see. (www.prentrom.com) They also have a place to “find a consultant” so one can get actual hands-on experience. We went through our speech therapist to set it up.
@farmwife, I suppose it depends on what the desired outcome would be for the device user. I worry that too many people equate speaking with communicating. Only you know your child and know if his speech is “unique and original” versus scripted, echolalic, or very limited. Is your child able to communicate his wants and needs, or if he’s hurt, or needs help? Those were, for me, the things which are most important. Can my child participate fully in the world around him to the best of his cognitive abilities? This particular device, I believe —and have already seen evidence— will do that for Nik.
At the very least, Farmwife, I would encourage you to have your son evaluated. Information is always useful even if it doesn’t lead to the outcomes we first anticipate. The evaluation may give insights into learning and communication styles. I know that we discovered Nik had LOTS to tell us once we found the right method. But that method was NOT PECS, which school had been trying to force on him at one point. Nor was it the songs and sign language I thought it would be.
Many children can’t be bothered with speech-generating devices; they can be cumbersome and laborious when handing someone a picture card seems faster, or using a script from a telelvision show works just as well. It all really depends on the individual needs of the user. There is no one-size solution when it comes to communication.
So funny!! I hope this works beautifully for Nik. A couple of my students recently started using this one, which I hadn’t seen before, and so can only guess that it’s not as widely known about? My students are having huge successes so I wanted to pass the link to you. It’s especially nice because 1) it’s really cheap, 2) you can use natural voices and actual photographs or stick drawings and 3) it’s more portable then the typical AACs. You can even use it via an itouch or iphone! (I swear, i’m not a representative. Just a special ed teacher.) http://voice4uaac.com/index.html
@sarah You’re too funny. I’ve seen and heard soem great things about the iPhone/iTouch compatible programs recently. I don’t have any iTechnology (like that? I just coined a new term!) but do know that Nik doesn’t have the fine motor control to use a touch screen. We’ve had to get the key-guards for the Vantage Lite for that reason. He doesn’t use one finger alone but rests his entire hand on the screen which makes it very, very confused and then it doesn’t do anything. Leads to a crabby, frsutrated boy. lol
The other thing (and I don’t know this for fact about the voice4u program) is that Nik isn’t a visual learner so he doesn’t really scan pictures and stuff well. He learns the specific key sequences to create the results he wants and then he doesn’t even look at the device. I’m hoping that’ll change as he gets older and we can evaluate his visual acuity better, too.
There is no evidence that shows voice out put devices prevent verbal language development. Its been my experience, in many years a s a professional, that the opposite is true. Many of the kids that I work with, the second they become stressed or upset, lose their verbal language abilities. How nice to have a “backup” when one system shuts down?
Here is an AWESOME link, see specifically this post about language:
@Claudia, you raise an excellent point. It’s akin to the old argument that teaching babies sign language will inhibit verbal development…just NOT true! And, yes, I see with Nik that he loses even his ability to sign when he’s tired or frustrated. Thanks for linking to Kate’s great website, too. I’d fogotten about that post. :-)
Thanks for your comment on my Hopeful Parents’ post, I wish we could spell each other, too. I went into a panic yesterday when I realized in 2 years my daughter goes off to college and my three other caregivers will be, at that time, 81, 84 and 86. My husband and I will never be able to be gone at the same time, so it’s time to start manifesting young and vibrant caregivers for a teenager!
Is there a community college (or 4 yr) near you that might have education or nursing programs? Maybe you could find a student looking for some practicum hours that you could supervise or train them to be a caregiver? I may be misremembering but I think Kyra Anderson did something like that at one point. She may have some pointers.
Meanwhile, I’m holding a vision for younger (much younger!) caregivers to show up in your life. :-)
The other thing (and I don’t know this for fact about the voice4u program) is that Nik isn’t a visual learner so he doesn’t really scan pictures and stuff well.
One thing we learned recently (and Buddy Boy is 10 now) is that his eyes don’t “track” together all the time, such that as he is reading they start to diverge, which makes him lose his place very easily, and contributes to his attention wandering.
I’m not sure how this got diagnosed, but we now do exercises with him where he has to consciously do things like read the first and the fifth letters in a column of letters, etc. Of course, these exercises presume a lot of cooperation, being able to recognize letters, and the ability to communicate verbally. Not sure how this would have looked before Buddy Boy could reliably speak.
Joe, we’ve wondered if that might be something that’s in Nik’s future, too. He’s got some significant impairment in one eye —residual scarring from laser surgery to arrest his retinopathy of prematurity. As long as he can’t yet communicate to us what he *can* see, it’s challenging to know what the real issues are. I do know that he struggles specifically with visual attention and expect that reading may be a bit of an eye-opening experience for us. (Pun intended!)