Monday, August 24, 2009

Communication

So I have a lot of catching up to do since I've been absent from my blog for a week. I think I'll start with the most exciting thing first.

So, I've been thinking a lot about our communication with Harlie - and about her communication with us. I think signing has been wonderful. I can't imagine what our past two years would have been like without it. However, while I love it, I just don't think it is getting the job done anymore. I think it has come time for me to consider a communication device. She's almost three, and her exposure to people who don't know sign is growing. And I really feel like she wants to say more than just the signs she knows.

Once a month I get together with a group of moms who have special kids, too. And during the last dinner a mom told me about her experience with a communication device. She thought it was very beneficial to her daughter and she saw major progress after a short amount of time. All the benefits she mentioned are things that I really feel like Harlie needs (and us, too). Of course, a communication device was suggested by our speech therapist and she even brought a few for us to see. But that was a long time ago, and I just wasn't ready. But I am now.

So, I called our speech therapist and told her. She was SO excited! I think she knew all along (as well as our last therapist) that this was the direction in which we needed to go. And, even though they were/are right, I am very glad they let me try it my way first (with sign) and let me come to this conclusion in my own time.

So, last Thursday she showed me this new communication device called the SpringBoard Lite. I loved it! It is only 2.5 pounds and she can carry it around all by herself. And she took right to it, too! Within minutes she could say she wanted to play with the doll and change the doll's clothes and then pick which article of clothing she wanted to change.

What's so exciting is that it will open up her expressive communication so much! She can only sign what we teach her. And that's it. She can't sign something she overheard someone else say, something her teacher taught her or something she heard on TV. And there's only a few of us that would understand her anyway. Talk about limiting!

There's a button on this device that is a picture of a little girl. So, let's say she goes to a doctor's appointment and someone says to her, "Hi, what's your name?" Well, she can touch the little girl and the device will say, "Hi, my name is Harlie." Then the person could ask her, "how old are you?" And she could touch the button that has a cake on it and it would say, "I am 2 years old." Now how cool is that? That's a whole conversation that she can't have now. And this way she can talk to other kids, too!

Now if we could just get our hands on one to keep! Unfortunately, that takes some time. First our ST has to show us several different devices (ugh!). Then once we decide which is the best for Harlie, then our ST has to write a letter of medical necessity. She said that will definitely NOT be a problem. Then it goes to our insurance for approval. Once approved, then it gets ordered. THEN it takes 6 to 12 weeks to come in!!! Holy crap! So, hopefully we can get started this week. Now that I've made the decision and I've seen it in action - I WANT IT NOW!

And now that she is starting preschool - I think it is going to be essential. Yes, she starts preschool at Three Oaks Montessori School on September 8th (the same day Murphy starts kindergarten). WOW! She will go two half-days per week - Tuesdays and Thursdays. I will drive Harlie and Brandy (her nurse) to school each morning, and then go back and pick them up after lunch. The challenge will be keeping her therapy and doctor's appointments out of those time slots! Already her speech therapy conflicts on Thursdays (which we're working on fixing). But some doctors don't give you much choice on appointments (they only do clinic on Tuesdays, for example).

There are so many positives to her starting preschool. But the major ones (other than her getting an education) is that she will be able to "eat" with the other kids. So, during snack and lunch, Brandy can give her oral feeding then, while Harlie is watching other kids eat, too. I'm really hoping that she will see that other kids don't shake their heads or block the food from getting near her mouth, or cover their mouths with their hands. And the school has a small class (I think 13 kids total) and it is a quiet environment, which I think will help. With her only having hearing in one ear, if someone calls her name, she'll hear it, but she might not know which direction the person is calling from. So, with a lot of kids talking/playing in one room (like in most preschools) I think that would overwhelm her.

Anyway, her speech therapist said that kids love computers and that with Harlie's communication device, she'll be very popular and kids will want to talk to her. I just don't want them to be afraid of her. And it would be great if she could talk to them and let them get to know her personality. I really believe that once she is given a chance, you couldn't help but like her.

So, hopefully we can get things moving so I can see what my little girl has to say! See, isn't this exciting????

Thanks!
Christy

6 comments:

Sue Mitchell said...

How exciting! Of course the kids will like her. What's not to like? Not only is she cute, she has all this personality and smarts too! Are you kidding? She'll be the class star! The kids will be curious of course, that's just their nature. But look how much they will learn from Harlie. I can't wait to read your posts about preschool for Harlie and kindergarten for Murphy.

Beth said...

WOO-HOO!!!! You know I'm jumping for joy girly! I can't wait for the ball to get rolling on this! I LOVE IT! I just know that Harlie is going to be so successful with a device and will finally be able to communicate her sassiness and brilliance with her words! Can't wait to her about the progression.

Ann said...

Exciting news all the way around! I can't wait to hear what Harlie has to say. Just make sure they don't put any swear buttons on her device (hehe)!

Grandma said...

ALL I CAN SAY IS WOW!!! I can't wait to hear all about this device and see it in action...her personality will definately shine thru. I justv can't believe that both Harlie and Murphy will be in school..Cooper is going to be so lonely! And I bet Mom will be in heaven for at least 2 mornings a week!! See you this weekend.

Donna said...

Sorry I'm just getting a chance to catch up on your blog...that is SOOOOO exciting!!!! Have you contacted the TTAC department at VCU? They have communication devices there they lend out - FOR FREE! I've had Alex's Go Talk 4+ for over five weeks now...let me know if you need any info on it. Oh, and OF COURSE they will love her when they get to know her - who have you encountered that doesn't?!?

Kim said...

Catching up after over a week without time to read blogs... and I have a tear. Or a few tears, actually. So excited about her progress, and so excited to get to see a small part of it firsthand this fall!!!