Made of Gray

Caleigh's Communication Part 2

Holly D Gray5 Comments
The Prentke Romich Company is just one of the standard Augmentative Alternative Communication (AAC) companies out there. Last fall I read the book Schuylers Monster. It's written by a local dad, it's a good book and really got me thinking about communication. Schuyler actually uses a PRC device. So in my quest for Caleigh's communication I started with PRC.

Let me just say that our vision therapist with the school district wasn't interested in helping us and basically told me that the school will take care of it. Their process of "taking care of it" could take a year or more. I feel like we don't have a year. Caleigh is in there. She's a smart girl. Yes, I can basically read her mind at this point but I want her to be able to talk however that might happen. So if your reading this, your a parent and you feel like your kid can do it.....then pursue it. Just like other therapies, it's not just going to fall into your lap. I don't know how many speech therapists told me that Caleigh "wasn't ready." So I started with choices, then moved to pictures, then made her work to get the pictures. She is ready.

I contacted the local rep and set up a meeting at our house. I haven't been taking Caleigh to speech therapy since she got sick. It's a 45 minute drive both ways and Caleigh screams the whole time due to pushing feeding therapy. She hates the place. I love the place, but I'm not going to force it. I'm on the look out for an SLP that is open to AAC devices. So since we technically don't have a SLP I asked our OT to come for the demo.
The rep brought out their full line of devices and we set Caleigh up to start using one. Our OT is convinced that Caleigh will use her hand on the screen. The other option would be to use switches to make choices on the screen. Our OT wants her to use her hands and so do we. Caleigh did well in the trial. We set up a key guard so that she didn't accidentally hit buttons. We changed the voice to a child's voice. We set up some buttons. She got it. She got it.

So now we are on day 5 of the trial and I'm noticing some important factors with the device. Once you hit a choice, a second row of choices pops up on the top row. This is a problem for Caleigh. She has to be positioned just right to be able to reach the top row. Most of the time I have to reposition the device and/or hold her arm up while she uses her hand to make the choice. Sometimes she will just hit the first word over and over because she can't reach the second word. You can see this in the above video.

So far Caleigh can tell us that she "want go car" "want violet" "need diaper" "stop." I will say that I am impressed with the language system PRC uses. It's definitely that next step that Caleigh needs. This device itself is a eye opening $8,000.

Ideally once you hit a choice a completely new screen would pop up in that sub category. This would help Caleigh so that she didn't accidentally make another choice and then have to start over. Another issue is that we really can't move the location of the buttons. They are set in a particular location for later on when the maximum amount of choices are on the screen.

Other companies with different devices can do those things. There is another company out there, Dynavox and I have set up a meeting with their rep as well. She will come out next week.

I'm not completely done with PRC. We will trial the device for a few more weeks, but in the mean time we will try other systems as well. Every company and their system is different. We'll just have to see what works for Caleigh.

We will be trialing an Ipad with the Proloque2go app as well. Our OT owns the Ipad so we will be trying it out. I'm excited to see if this will be a cheaper and easier way to communicate.
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