Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Some good AAC news

After Sunny was enroled in school and the teacher requested him to use the talker more frequently he stopped using it at home. Before that time the first thing he did in the morning when he entered our dining room (where I charge it) was to unplug it and to start pressing his favourite buttons. After some weeks in school he stopped using it at home entirely. He did not even look at it when he entered the dining room for breakfast in the morning and when I unpacked it from his satchel when he came home from school he signed "done" or pushed it away. He ignored it completely

I thought that building up any kind of pressure and making him use the talker at home would be the wrong way so I accepted his refusal. I think it was maybe because he realised that using the talker is not only fun but also work (which is what is done in school when the teacher expects him to engage with the class by means of the talker) and he did not feel like working at home. Maybe it was something completely different, who knows.

So this situation lasted from roughly October until Thursday last week. When he came home on Thursday and I unpacked his talker from the satchel he immediately took it from my hands and started using it. I could see that he was delighted and that he really had fun. He genuinely enjoyed using it, something I had not seen for months. That made me so happy.

When I opened the communication journal from school that day I found a note from the teacher letting me know that he had had so much fun using the talker in school that day, too, that he had been very motivated and that he had been happily contributing to putting together the class schedule for the day.

I am under the impression that the long break did him really good. My impression is that he also uses the talker much more purposefully now and that he slowly starts communicating with it more. Some examples:

- I read a book to him on Thursday about a man being barefoot and it was so important to him to tell me about "shoe" with the talker (and constantly pointing to his foot). When he found the button for "shoe" he was really happy and delighted. 

- After our speech therapy session on Friday the therapist and I talked while I dressed Sunny and myself to go outside (shoes, jackets etc.). She was in the therapy room, we were in the waiting room and we talked through the open door so it was a very casual conversation. Sunny was next to me and pushing various buttons on his talker. We spoke about the weather and the month "March" was said when all of a sudden Sunny pushed "March" on his talker. I am always astonished what he gets when I do not expect it. There are moments when I talk to someone and think he is completely occupied with the book he looks at/the toy he plays with and then all of a sudden he proves that he listened very closely although he seemed to be somewhere else.

- During speech therapy the therapist put up a toy train set with some animals to work on different (animal) sounds and while she informed me
at the end of the session about what she had done with Sunny  he pushed "train" on his talker.

- There were two big rabbits crossing our path during last week's hippo therapy on Saturday in the forest and they had been HUGE. The therapist even wondered if they had been wild boar because they had been really very, very big (and very fast so we could not really watch them closely but we are both quite sure they were rabbits). Anyway, when we were having dinner together that night I told my husband about the big rabbits and how unbelievable big they had been. Sunny seconded me by pushing "big" on his talker.

- My husband and I also spoke about a special toy at dinner and then, all of a sudden, Sunny got up and brought us a catalogue of exactly this toy although he, again, had seemed to be completely occupied with his talker at that moment and not being attentive to our conversation at all. His antennae always seem to be everywhere, catching everything that is floating around. Really impressive!

So there have been many, many moments when he used the talker to tell me about certain things and situations that we were dealing with at that moment. This is a huge difference compared to the time before his talker break when he had mostly just pushed buttons without much correlation to what we had been up to. 

There really has been a time when I feared that the talker thing would not work and that he would never use it. Now I have my confidence back that, slowly but steadily, the talker will be used more and more by him to tell me about the things going on in his head. I do not know what sparked his interest again and I will most likely never know, but for now I am just happy he found joy in using it again. We are taking baby steps, but they are still steps.


  1. Yay Sunny! What device is it? When my now 17yo daughter first got her Dynavox, she loved exploring with it. Then boredom with it set in. Using sign language was SO much faster and convenient AND the batteries never ran out. (She cannot speak, but has no hearing loss so no interpreter at school.) It took a long while, but she learned the vale of using it and uses it much more than she once did.

    1. We have a Dynavox maestro device. So does Brielle mostly use sign language or does she still have and use a talker?

      I would prefer Sunny using a talker because who knows sign language? When he is able to use the talker properly anyone will be able to understand him, that's why I am so keen on him learning to use it.

  2. We failed at the talker. And by fail I mean epic. But it was our failure because like you I thought signing, pointing was easier for her. Luckily Boo didn't like the talker so found her voice instead. Awesome news on Sunny :)


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