Last Thursday, Hannah had her first private sector Augmentative Communication evaluation. Augmentative Communication is the use of electric device, pictures or computers to aide with communication. Stephen Hawkings uses an augmentative communication device.
Her past evaluations had been at school without me around and about ten minutes in length in a classroom setting. She was usually distracted. So the adults with her couldn't see her make choices or show her understanding. She was too busy watching the other kids.
I decided we needed to help the process along. So I put us into the long waiting list for an evaluation through the child development center at Hannah's hospital.
I told her about it before we went. I explained if she didn't show her communication skills, she would be stuck in this limbo a little longer. She seemed excited.
I brought some things I knew would help: three specific toys. The first was a box of cards that represent nursery songs. It really is the only thing she has ever been interested in choosing between visual cards. I would lay out the cards in front of her and she would choose one.
She would choose by eye gaze and occasionally touching them. The second was her MP3 player by Playskool which consists of one big button that she pushes to operate and switch songs.
The third was the Learn Through Music Plus by Mattel. It has an interactive touch screen that generates different songs depending on what screen you're on and what you touch in the pictures.
Hannah was on – really on – this day!
She showed the specialist that she would look at all her choices, then make one with the music cards. She also encouraged the specialist when she understood her choice with a “Yay!” out loud. She operated her other toys showing that she did know how to use buttons. She does lack a certain finesse, she kind of hits at the toys till they work. But she obviously understood how to use it.
Eventually, the specialist brought out her own cards and had Hannah make choices. Hannah complied.
She agrees that Hannah is ready to try a device. I have some major homework of putting together a notebook that has pages that works like an eye gaze device.
It is nice to move forward.
Hannah chatted all the way home excitedly.