Tag Archives: communication

the Crying Game

Mac cried,
the ‘aide’ tried,
and Mumma had to get him.

Mac cracked the ‘sads’ yesterday at school.  It was bound to happen at some stage – I have never met a child who is 100% happy 100% of the time.  Why should a child with a disability be expected to be 100% happy (or good for that matter)? 
Oh, I remember…  because (insert sarcasm here…) “they’re always such happy children” (ugh). 

I wan’t super surprised.  Mac cries with incredible gusto when he decides to ‘let rip’ .  It at times doesn’t seem humanly possible he could be producing the sound without amplification, so I knew it was bound to happen at some stage and would shock the staff.  And I know it was only out of concern for his wellbeing that we were contacted. 

But, for the uninitated here are some reasons a child with a disability might cry…
– they are sad
– they have a pain
– they are hurt
– they don’t like what they are doing or being asked to stop doing
– they don’t like who they are with
– they are tired or hungry
– they are faking it to get out of something

groundbreaking isn’t it… kinda amazing it is exactly the same for a ‘non-disabled’ child.

For the record I could have left Mac at school because he was absolutely fine when I went to check on him, I assume he had a teeny tiny burp and decided to ‘bung it on a little’.  But as I was at a conference and had already missed lunch to head out to school, I was loathe to miss the last speaker who I was really keen to hear at the end of the day… so Mac and I left early and went back to listen to the Commander of the Middle Eastern Task Force speak – she was a fantastic speaker and Mac loved the talk.  Must have something to do with his passion for ‘The Bill’, he glaarred everytime she spoke about the street gangs and undesirables.

I will not be collecting Mac from school every time he cries – I am sure other parents don’t do that.

The school will learn to deal with it and respect it for what it is.  Let’s face it, crying is only communication (as is all behaviour).  We are all allowed to protest and complain, it’s a basic human right.

More learning for the staff.  It’s all experience, all good.

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Filed under kindergarten at last

the iFuture

There have been many ideas, thoughts and plans churning around in my head for some months now as to a better option for Mac for his limited Augmented Communication options.   I make no secret of the fact I hate paying the prices on some of these devices and I am resentful of the non-profit organisations who represent us and who don’t fight for better, cheaper products.  I also dislike the Australian model of assistance where Speech Therapists believe you have to prove you can drive a formula one car before they let you sit for a learners permit when it comes to AAC devices.   Funny isn’t it.  I have yet to meet a neurotypical child who was ‘gagged’ from saying their ‘bub-bubs and gurgles’ until they could speak properly.

Having looked at quite a few devices I have found one of the better options out there for Mac would be the M3 made by Dynavox – but at around the $7K mark it is still exorbitantly priced – no matter how good it is.  Mac would still need a head switch but it would certainly help his peers communicate more easily and readily with him.

So the idea I have been kicking around is to modify a touch screen MP3 player like the iPhone or iTouch type products.  On the iTouch I could then have all the different Audio Files with Album Art stored on there for the different uses.  It would mean we could retain greetings, numbers, letters, news, farewells and so on.  It would allow (with a voice recording application) for us not to miss many of the opportunities presenting themselves at school for Mac to relisten to such as singing, music, kids reading to him etc.   The more I have looked into it more I am finding it probably is the way of the future for us.

A new AAC application for the iPhone has just been released http://www.proloquo2go.com  This is a great application to strive towards for Mac.

In the meantime I need to put some serious thoughts into how I could modify something to help add a head switch into the iTouch or iPhone application (eek!).  

But, what is making me all the more determined is the huge number of appropriate applications already available through iTunes that would be really suitable for Mac.  For example, there is a letter tracing app, where Mac’s finger can be traced around the letter shape – no holding a pencil, no wrangling him into a ridiculous position, no “kid wearing and adult suit” just to trace a letter.  The iTouch could be placed in the right position for him… left or right handed side… and he can be shown the letters with little effort.  

Other programs I like already available as iPhone or iTouch applications include memory matching, voice recording, alphabet flash cards with animation, jokes, farts (he’s a boy and he is five…), story books.

I will let you know how it transpires… particularly around the head switching or switch adaption opportunities.

btw… the cost of a “One Step Communicator with levels” in Australia is the same price as an 8gig iTouch.  It gets harder and harder to justify supporting the “disability model of access and AAC”.

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Filed under Access all Areas

communication, manners, respect

It’s funny how things you think are obvious and straight forward are not.  

We had an instance where one of Mac’s very good friends (in the year above him) went home from school in tears because she had been sent away from Mac because she didn’t introduce herself to him.  She has known him for nearly four years and they have an amazing relationship.  She speaks to him in a volume you can hardly hear – holding his hand the whole time, he responds with gurgles and glaars just meant for her ears.  It is a devine relationship… magical almost.

So we were disheartened to hear of her plight.  It wasn’t Mac’s main aide – she absolutely ‘gets it’ about communication, manners and respect.

So we put together a ‘crib sheet’ just as a reminder.

I am not sure how it has been received – it is fairly direct, but hopefully educational at the same time.   We didn’t want to single out the aide in question – let’s face it the problem is primarily based around seeing “ideals” as rules.  We felt we needed to ‘nip it in the bud’ and not let it get away on us.  

From our perspective there is too much at stake to not take it seriously.

Any comments most welcome.

Communication IDEALS & I-DON’TS

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Filed under kindergarten at last