Saturday, October 13, 2012

Velcro Words

This is the latest idea. We have lots of ideas around here, and sometimes we actually find one that works. It's easy to have new ideas when I have a team of people who work with Lilli to try them out. If I were on my own, I would not get a fraction of this done.

Lilli learned to use PECS a few years ago (Picture Exchange Communication System). It was going great for awhile, but, it is hard to describe when and where we kind of hit a wall with the pictures. It is not an easy way to communicate with a child. You only get one basic idea at a time. For example, a picture of someone opening their mouth for a bite: that means "eat." Ok, it is a place to start. But it still leaves a lot of questions. It works, and if it's all you've got, then you depend on it. All I am saying is that while it is helpful and better than nothing, it is limiting.

 Lilli can hand me a picture that simply means "movie." I still have to figure out more information. Which one? Where do you want to watch it? Do you need anything else?

Chloe can come to me and tell me verbally in seconds that she wants: to watch Cinderella, in the living room and she wants a snack and a blanket, and oh, she wants me to sit next to her. And turn it up please. And please fast forward through the previews.

Big difference.

There has to be a "bridge" between handing simple pictures to someone, and independently typing words and sentences. So this might be a "bridge":

Velcro words.
It's like a combination of the idea of a "Word Wall" and a sentence building activity kit, but put in a communication book with velcro attached to it. (I think there was some old teacher lingo in there, sorry.)

Lilli can read. She does not need the pictures. They take up space, and I think they might even be distracting sometimes. Sometimes the cartoons are unclear and do not accurately depict the word or phrase.

Lilli can spell, and we are working on typing, but this is a shortcut. This is for what her speech therapist (love her) calls "functional communication."

We practice typing each day, but when she wants something it can be very frustrating to try and slowly type word after word with one finger. I try to imagine if I were an eight year old and I had to spell out three or four sentences to someone, when all I wanted was a simple snack and a certain movie. It might make me avoid asking. Or it would make me whine or cry about the time and effort it takes. Also imagine if you had to slowly spell out the words "I have to go to the bathroom" when you really gotta go. One last issue I have personally is that the pictures are not that great. How can you tell the difference between a picture of an egg salad sandwich and a chicken salad sandwich? On a two inch by two inch square picture, it is not that easy.

We want Lilli to communicate, but quickly without frustration for everyday functioning.

We are expanding the idea of the "Yes No" cards to different catagories, such as food, movies, feelings, activities, and I'm sure we will come up with more.

Since it is so new I can't really explain well how we will use them or if it is working. We are going to start small, putting only a few choices out at one time. We envision that eventually we will leave the entire page open to Lilli for choices, but we know that we have to introduce it to her on a smaller scale. This may take a few days or maybe months. We never know with Lilli. But I wanted to share the idea. Even if it ends up as a big flop, maybe someone else can take this idea and make it work for them. This is like a super-cheap version of the communication ipad app Proloquo2Go. (which is $189.00).

Now to get busy with scissors and a ton of teeny pieces of sticky velcro...


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