The Risk of Believing
We sit in the front row at church. I’m too easily distracted to sit anywhere else. When Aidan was learning to walk, it provided him with a purposeful opportunity to work out. Walking to your seat is not a made up phycial therapy excercise, but rather a functional activity. He loves walking so much that he generally walks past our seats and onward toward the stage or out the side doors. That kid wants to move.
These are the moments I actually love having typical kid problems. When everyone else sits, Aidan needs to sit, whether he wants to or not.
Turns out Aidan likes to talk too. Aidan had quick success when we bought him the Speak for Yourself app for his ipad, what we now refer to as his talker. We started with just a few simple words. Because the words never move, Aidan learned where they were located and his point improved with his determination. We gave him more words. He started to speak in sentences. He proved he had manners when he used the word PLEASE.
And now he talks in church. Typical kid problems.
Last Sunday Aidan reached for his talker for the first time unprompted. Usually we use it at meal times or present it to him when we want a response. While it’s always available to him, Aidan only seems interested in specific contexts. I had already turned the volume down when he grabbed his talker in church, but Garreth held Aidan’s hands back. I glared at Garreth with the let go of my kid before I chop your hands off in the name of Jesus face. We’ve waited a long time for Aidan to speak and I won’t let a moment of embarrassment stop him. So just as the sermon ended there was a quiet robotic request for MORE MORE DRIVE DRIVE DRIVE.
It’s all a bit of a risk, though, this finding a voice for your child. I passed up the Speak for Yourself sale twice because I didn’t believe Aidan could use it with his fine motor challenges and his comprehension skills. Could he really understand that there’s a word behind a word? When I finally bought the app I still wasn’t sure. I risked being right that this wasn’t appropriate. I risked being wrong that maybe there was hope anyway. I risked wasting time on the wrong app. I risked feeling lost or overwhelmed, unsure of how to teach him where the words are and how to use them.
I risked him learning quickly and then hitting a plateau. He’s done that. Aidan spoke in sentences a few times and then went back to one word utterances. I’m ok with that because I know it’s part of his learning pattern. But it’s still a risk to be excited and then discouraged. It’s a risk to trump the professionals, to be the parent who says, this is what I choose and I’ll tell you why. Aidan’s team has been completely supportive but it certainly doesn’t turn out that way for everyone.
And let’s face it, it’s a risk of wasting your money. This app benefits people who are generally spending money on a variety of medical and educational expenses. While $200 may not be exorbitant on its own, put it in context of the specialized food and alternative medicines and wipes and excessive mileage to doctor’s appointments and previously trialed AAC devices. It adds up.
The door just cracked open a little more into Aidan’s world. He’s smart and polite and hungry and yes, even a little disruptive in church.
This Thursday on April 2 the Speak for Yourself App is half priced in honor of Autism Awareness Month.
It’s the reason my son has a voice and I’ve risked a lot more for a lot less.
Check out the Speak for Yourself website which has excellent tutorials and the Uncommon Sense blog has an comprehensive review. And just FYI, I don’t work for SfY and get nothing for this reccomendation but you can be sure that I’ll continue to shout from the mountaintops that my boy has a voice.
I’m happy to answer any questions you have if you’re considering AAC.