Made of Gray

Caleigh's Communication - The Review

Holly D Gray5 Comments
Awhile back I posted an iPad-Proloquo2Go update. I left the comments open for questions about our process. The number one question that I receive over and over is "what did you do to get Caleigh to the point of using her iPad." So I thought I would use this post to answer that question.

Beginning with talking. We talk to Caleigh all day long and have since she was born. Whether we are talking about the weather or what her clothes look like; we have been running our mouths! Every process of our day is described in detail. We aren't perfect with this. It's an exhausting idea to talk all day about the mundane details. I'm not saying there wasn't silence too. There is. There is also music to fill in the gaps.

Caleigh instantly achieved success with cause and effect toys. I won't spend lots of time on it mainly because general children's toys work great for this. Hit a button and something happens. Easy Peasy for Caleigh.

After cause and effect, we started giving Caleigh choices using manual eye gaze. This was a brief period in our communication quest. Choosing books, pajamas, toys. We would hold up two choices asking her which one she wanted. When Caleigh would stare at one of the items for 5 seconds, and we would count out loud, if she sustained the gaze she would get that choice. Fairly quickly, Caleigh stopped participating. Maybe she was bored or maybe the choice that she really wanted wasn't there. Not making a choice is considered a choice too.

We rapidly moved on to two choices by touch. We would lay Caleigh on the ground with each item on either side of her. We would have her pick which toy she wanted by touching the item. With her limited hand use, laying on her back was the best way to make choices at the time. We quickly learned that Caleigh could identify toys by name. This was a year ago. Summer 2009.

September 2009, we printed out a ton of 4x6 photos and had Caleigh make choices by touching which photo she wanted. The photos were of toys, books, activities and people. Then we trialed a low-tech boardmaker device using those photos. Caleigh did well with it, but had trouble with the pressure needed to activate the pad. Video Here.

We went back to using just the photos for a few months. I went to researching. Then Caleigh's intestines had a set back. We quit speech therapy and hung out in the hospital for the first two months of 2010. When the smoke cleared I took Caleigh's communication into our own hands. Reading the book Schyuler's Monster helped light that fire.

Caleigh needed to learn how to use her arms and hands to make choices more easily. To make her chose with more than a hand swipe I devised a magnet photo system. Caleigh flourished with this and really showed us that our efforts were worth it. Things just kept getting better. Here's the post related to the magnet board.

At this point I threw all the advice we received about Caleigh and the use of communication devices out the window. I looked up the local reps for PRC and Dynavox and set up appointments in our home. Yes, they can do that and I highly recommend it.

Here's my post on our PRC experience

Here's my post on our Dynavox experience

That was April of this year. During this same time the iPad was debuting and you pretty much lived under a rock if you hadn't heard about it. Our OT bought one and let Caleigh play with it during therapy. That was all we needed. A visual trial. The rest is history because Caleigh has been chatting with us on her iPad ever since.

Here's my post on the iPad experience

1 month update

Within a year Caleigh has gone from cause and effect to a high tech voice output communication device and that's how we got there. Caleigh has made this process extremely easy for us. She gets it, she understands and she wants so badly to communicate with those around her. We are extremely proud of our little talker.
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