Friday, January 23, 2009

A Whole New Respect

I had to take a sick day today because the girl is sick. However, I worked from home most of the morning. Then I had to pack her up into the car, runny nose, coughing and all because there is a new student coming on Monday and I wanted to make sure that he had a communication device when he walked in the door. So much for a sick day!

While I was there, I took a device that a student is no longer using. It is a Dynamyte, which is a dynamic display device. Whenever I bring these home, Caitlyn is head over heels crazy about them. All she wants to do is play with them and see what they are capable of. This particular device is a touch screen and depending on what button you press, the screen can change in order to open up a new page of choices.

Caitlyn asked me a billion times during the day if she could play with it and I kept telling her no. Then I picked it up to see what had been programmed in to it and she asked again if she could please play with it. So I gave in and told her she could. But first I had to explain what some of the functions on it were. She took to it immediately and figured it out right away.

She then asked if we could have a conversation using it and we weren't allowed to use our voices. Nor were we allowed to look at what the other person was saying until the entire message was spoken. Naturally, I was able to create messages much more quickly than she could as I am familiar with how the pages are programmed. She, on the other hand, could not create them as quickly.

And this is what leads me to the title of a whole new respect. Very often I forget how difficult these devices are for children. And that they are even more difficult for a child who is not neurotypical. I am also reminded of how patient a parent must be to hear their child utter a simple phrase. One of the first things Cate wanted to say to me was "I love you mom." It took her no less than 5 minutes to say something that she can usually say in a matter of milliseconds. It also reminds me that these are the kinds of things that kids want to say, and that parents want to hear. They could care less about the messages that we program in that revolve around what they are learning in school. They want to hear their kids say "I love you" and other things like "I like the color orange."

It's little moments like these that remind me that I love what I do. It also reminds me of how and where I can improve in my job. Last but not least, it reminds me that I am so very thankful for the things that my daughter is capable of that other children struggle with on a daily basis.


Angela said...

Beautifully written Nancy!


Colleen said...

I miss having those around! We were going through the process of getting Kennedy a dynamic device when she had her set back last winter. She always loved having a joke on hers or telling about her family...instead of just the basic I want to eat. Zach always loved pushing the Uh OH buttons.

Sarah said...

I came across your blog a little while ago. You have a beautiful daughter.

I am currently in a master's program to become an SLP and I think I am interested in assistive technology. I don't know a lot about it right now and was wondering what a job working with assistive technology would be like. Would you mind telling me a bit about what your job entails. I don't want to pry too much into your life so feel free to not answer if you think it is too invasive.

Additionally, have you read Schuyler's Monster by Robert Rumme-Hudson? I thought it was interesting to read a parent's perspective on AAC

Sarah said...

Thanks for offering to e-mail me with more information. I have added my e-mail to my blog but I thought I would leave it here: srg204[at]gmail[dot]com

Thanks so much!