Monday, June 27, 2011

Speech Therapy and her communication device

After our hearing appointment last week, we met a new speech therapist.  This is something I haven't been able to blog about.  So, to bring you up to speed, here's the low-down:

Since she's starting Kindergarten in the fall, I think it's imperative that she be able to communicate with her peers.  And they don't know sign language.  And, at home, it is getting increasingly frustrating - for all parties - to not know what she wants or needs all the time.  She is almost five years old (crazy!) and she has a lot of information in her head that she just can't get out.  

We were receiving one hour of speech therapy per week.  And because of the body cast and surgery, etc. it's been a while since that was consistent.  

So, I decided that I wanted her to get WAY more therapy - and I wanted it to focus on her communication device.  There is a physical therapy place (Hope Therapy) here that offers an "intensive physical therapy" program, where the patient goes every day for several weeks.  That got me thinking about doing the same thing (to a lesser degree, of course) with speech therapy.  So, I started calling some speech therapists to see if they had an interest in doing an intensive program with Harlie - focusing on her device - at least three times per week.  

Because of insurance red tape - this would never be approved.  So, because of the many wonderful, generous donators to The Harlie Fund (including the awesome Harlie Crew!!!) we have some money to pay for this service privately.  That will get us a lot more therapy - and a lot more freedom to do what we need to do to get her "talking" and having conversations with her device.  

I cannot tell you how incredibly excited I am about this!  And I cannot begin to tell you how thankful I am that we have been so blessed with people who care about Harlie enough to be generous with their hard-earned money!  Thank you so much for making this possible!  Just think - YOU are helping her TALK!!!  What an amazing gift!!!!  Words simply cannot express what this means to us!

And, as if that isn't great enough, we got super lucky and were able to hire Harlie's first speech therapist ever - Beth!  Woohoo!!!  We are so excited about having her back in our lives again!  

Beth called another speech therapist, Amy, and asked her if they could partner with this project.  Three sessions per week is a tall order for any therapist.  So, if they do it in a partnership, we are more likely to get all sessions in each week.  

And last week was our first week.  Harlie is SO ready to talk!  You show her where a word is on the device one time and she's got it forever.  I knew this already.  We've been using the device a lot more the last few months.  And she tries to build sentences completely on her own.  

Unfortunately, the larger device (which holds more words and has more options as far as past tense and ing words, etc.) would better suit her needs.  But we have to make this smaller one work for now.  This means a lot more programming time on the device.  So, just in case, if anyone knows of a Vantage Lite that someone is done using, please let me know.  As you can see, they are quite expensive and I don't think we qualify to get a new device for another three years, at least.

Last night I felt the difference between the two devices.  Cooper took a toy away from Harlie and she was upset and crying.  I knew she was playing with that toy earlier, and when I heard her crying, I saw Cooper had the toy, so I figured out what happened.  But, that's not always the case.  So, I wanted to show her how to tell me - using the device - that "Cooper took my toy."  But, there is no took.  Just take.  Which is clearly different.

It is amazing how much we learn about language development without even trying.  And when natural learning can't occur - how incredibly difficult it is to teach.  It is truly overwhelming.  But, luckily, she likes her device and is a willing participant.  So, I have high hopes!!

Thank you again to The Harlie Crew and all the generous contributors to The Harlie Fund for making this possible!
~Christy

1 comment:

Sandy said...

How exciting! I wonder how much a used Vantage Lite would be?