We were at a disability equipment expo. Mac (in his mostly ‘home made’ wheelchair) and I were mooching around looking at what’s new, innovative, desirable and, of course, a pipe dream. We were also lamenting most of what we really want isn’t yet invented.
There weren’t many other kids there – it was a school day afterall. But one young girl and her parents made a bee line for us.
They wanted to know where we had got Mac’s spoke protectors from – they hadn’t seen any like that. Mac had his aboriginal art covers on – made from wrapping paper and clear contact. I explained how we made them to the Mum.
Then I spoke to Miss H (who had a neat little wheelchair with butterflies and flowers on her spoke protectors) and explained to her how she and her mum could easily change covers really regularly, she could think up great designs for different themed events (yep,her mum was semi-glaring at me, slightly bemused and probably wishing they never introduced themselves).
I told her about Mac’s Xmas chair when he was “little” and how it had two reindeer on the front & flashing lights. Mac was grinning at her and looking slightly ‘self-important’.
She checked a couple of facts – did the lights have batteries? how did the reindeer attach to the chair? and then “which reindeer where they?
Heh, I didn’t actually know which reindeer they were…
“We’ll have to ask Mac about that” I told her as I grabbed his yes/no switches.
“He’ll have to use his feet to answer yes & no”, I explained.
Mum: Mac, Miss H wants to know which reindeer were on your chair – do you know?
Miss H: Was one Comet?
Miss H: What about Dasher?
Miss H: Um, Dancer?
Miss H: (with her Dad’s suggestion) Or Prancer?
Mum: Oh, we forgot Rudolph? was the other one Rudolph?
Miss H: Oh, so Dasher and Rudolph, huh cool.
It still amazes me what is important to kids. I had NEVER considered what the names of those two toy reindeer were. I also love the fact that had Mac not previously determined which reindeer they actually were he is able to just ‘makes stuff up’ like all kids do to suit the situation.
With that, we parted ways and Mac and I continued collating our mental wish list of equipment we may want/need/covet now and in the future.
I do look forward to the day Mac doesn’t need me to hold his foot switches, a day when he can be an independent communicator.
But, for now I enjoy that pretty much everyone accepts his method of communicating particularly when the conversation is natural and normal. Sure I maneuver the convo around to get it in a format Mac can contribute, but then Miss H just naturally asked Yes/No questions without missing a beat. It’s not that hard really.