Utter Autism

December 22, 2008

He’s the Typing Type

The keyboard screen has become a favorite on Adrian’s Dynavox V.  More and more often we see him go to this screen to type out things he wants. 

Sometimes he needs to check his spelling by going to other pages on the device where the word appears but amazingly, he chooses to type the word out instead of just using the pre-programmed button for that item.

Every few days he’s typing in things – without checking the spelling – that we didn’t know he knew.  I couldn’t even venture a guess now about how many words he can read or type.  It’s all happened so suddenly that our heads are still spinning.

He continues to use the keyboard screen to answer the all important question, “What does that say?”  I considered putting a button on his device for him to ask this question…. but then I realized, he’s already got a perfect strategy for answering the question for himself!  Several times now, we’ve seen him copy words he clearly doesn’t know from items or websites – just to find out what they say.

Amazing stuff 🙂

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July 19, 2008

Exciting Development

My husband came upstairs the other day and said,

“Adrian just typed out Beauty and the Beast and Aladdin without looking at anything with those words on it.”

These are two of his favorite movies and he accesses them on his computer by sight reading them.  So I wasn’t shocked to hear he’d used them.  But then I thought about it. 

He typed them without looking at anything else and spelled them correctly. 

First, this means that not only can he learn to sight read words – he can learn to reproduce them.  And if he can reproduce them, he can learn to use them.  There’s a whole lot of hope in that statement and if you’re not the parent of a non-verbal child you may have missed it. 

While being able to use programmed vocabulary is great, it still limits what he can say.  The ultimate goal is to teach him to read and write so he can type his own spontaneous, unique messages – to be able to say what ever he wants to say, whenever he wants to say it. 

So what did we do next?  I opened Adrian’s keyboard page on his Dynavox V.  And he began typing…

LUNE

Lune?  I couldn’t figure out what he meant.  He thought for a second, went into his ‘time for’ page and looked there, then when back to the keyboard screen and typed…

LUNCH

He could have just hit the lunch button but he didn’t.  He typed it.  Could it be that he really recognizes the power of all those letters?  This is one exciting development 🙂

February 22, 2008

Dentist Day

So today was our re-scheduled dentist appointment after last attempt’s disaster.

With a fully charged Dynovox V, everything proceeded according to plan.  As expected, Adrian was a bit confused about where we were going.  I was able to show him the dentist office visual scene showing the chair and equipment we’d see.  When he started to throw a little fit, I was able to get him to talk to me about what he wanted after we finished at the dentist.  He calmed right down.

We walked into the dentist office on the same page.  First we’d do the dentist thing and then we’d get some french fries.  It was a good deal for both of us.  Adrian was happy and compliant.  They got some x-rays, checked his teeth and managed to do a mini cleaning and fluoride treatment.  While we waited he used his Dynavox to talk to me about where he wanted to go next. 

It was a great visit and I’m sure next time will be even better.  We know he doesn’t care for certain flavors now so next time we’ll try some others till we find the right one.  Knowing the routine should make the directions easier to understand and follow.

After our visit we went to the grocery store to get french fries, as promised.  We put Adrian’s Dynavox in the front of the shopping cart and he pushed it through the store himself.  Besides french fries he asked for some fruit punch, cereal, cupcakes, fruit snacks, chicken nuggets, ice pops and candy.  We got some things and left others behind.  He was an angel throughout.

December 11, 2007

It’s History

I wrote a while back about Adrian’s journal pages.  We’ve continued to have him type out sentences both here at home and at school.  I don’t know what they’re experiencing at school, but I find it hard to put words to our experiences here at home.  To say that Adrian is thrilled about this activity might be an understatement.  When I bring out the notebook that I’ve been slowly filling with words/icons, he laughs and giggles and gets all excited.  He loves being able to write out, word by word, his thoughts.

Ok, so maybe it’s not exactly all his thoughts.  But here at home, he chooses the topic from among the words/icons I’ve provided him in the notebook.  I then do my best to piece together a sentence that I believe expresses what he probably wants to say.

Today he choose the Christmas tree and decorations.  Adrian loves Christmas trees.  And he absolutely adores putting on the decorations.  So I pieced together two sentences. 

We put up our Christmas tree. I like to put on the decorations.

He was so excited about typing the sentences out, he could hardly contain himself.  It’s such a thrill for me to see him enjoy expressing himself this way. 

But the most recent change to the programming in the journal makes the whole experience take on a whole new meaning.  I wanted to give Adrian a way to go back and look at what he’d written in the past.  I had some trouble finding a way to automate the retrieval of the files… but I’ve finally worked out a solution. 

Journal Calendar

To save or load a journal entry, the new program takes him to a calendar page.  Here he can save a new entry under the correct date or push the button for a date to retrieve that day’s entry.  He’ll still need some guidance in identifying the date that a file should be saved in (a great way to work on those calendar skills in a functional way) but in the end I hope he’ll be able to use it independently.

Tonight Adrian pulled out the ‘elevator’ icon from the notebook.  We’d written an entry about using the elevator at the mall about a month ago.  I was able to show him how to retrieve that entry by going back a month and pushing the date.  He sat and listened to it over and over, laughing the whole time.  Now Adrian has history.

November 19, 2007

Music Page

music

 This is Adrian’s new page for music class.  It took me a good week contemplating all the vocabulary that the music teacher wanted him to have available.  Each of the buttons here opens a box in the center where he can choose from attributes like small or big, red or orange, circle or square, on or under, fast or slow, two or four, loud or quiet.  I tried to include words like ‘a’, ‘the’, ‘I want’, and ‘play’ so he can form complete sentences like “I want to play the big, red drum” or “I want two blue shakers.”

When I’d finished the page, I realized that having these attributes all together might be helpful in other areas as well.  For instance, while playing with the blocks he could ask for “Three small, red blocks” While playing with the doll house he could direct a play partner to “Put the small doll on the bed in the house”   It would allow him to communicate during play in a way that he’s never been able to. 

I’m going to start on the page while I wait for the teacher to give me a list of toys and activities to include.  Back to programming!

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