Tuesday, April 27, 2010

He's Getting It

Elijah's communication skills have really been coming along.  We've been working with augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) devices for awhile now and he's getting it.  He's really getting it.

A huge motivator for our boy is going outside.  He LOVES to go outside.  I'm pretty sure he'd live out there if I let him.  He'd probably be raised by deer or a red fox or squirrels or rabbits or that other weird creature that I saw in our backyard (an otter, beaver, badger...apparently I need to go back to elementary school).  But, I'd miss him too much, so I make him live with us.  I'm mean like that. ;)

Anyway, what was I saying? Oh yeah... Elijah constantly wants to go outside.  
Awhile ago he started to ask us for things by directing us to what he wanted.  A huge step to be sure!  But now, Elijah is taking his communication to the next level.  He's using words.  No, not with his own voice, but with "talkers" we have placed in key areas of the house.

All of the talkers in our house have been loaned to us from the school district.  It's given Elijah a voice, where he was once silent.  We've seen a reduction in negative behaviors, which makes our life so much more pleasant.  And, yes, that might be a major understatement.

The following photos are a good illustration of his thought process.  We have a talker by our door that is connected to the laundry room which leads to the garage....which obviously leads to the glorious outdoors. First, he needs to locate his talker.

Then, he needs to ask his desired question by pushing his talker.  With this talker he says, "Can you open the door for me please?"
Then he immediately moves to the doorknob to show us what he desires.  It's pretty obvious he knows what he is saying. 
Next, he moves to the door that leads to the garage, grabs the doorknob and looks expectantly back at us (because we can't have talkers by every door of the house!).  He speaks a whole lot in that little glance: "Mom, can you open this door next?  Because I want to go OUTSIDE!!! Pleeeeeaaasseee?!"  It's quite the feat for a little dude who has had such a hard time looking at us throughout his life. And so, we put on our shoes and play to our hearts content because he asked so nicely.

His communication is so clear.  Do I wish he were able to verbalize these desires with his own mouth?  Absolutely.  It'd be so much easier not to have to figure out what the little guy wants to say so that we can give him the opportunities to say it.  Do I hope that he will one day be able to talk to us? Yep.  And I'm not giving up on that goal.  More importantly, though, is that Elijah is
communicating.  It's a big deal.  It's like watching him take his first steps or hearing his first words.  They are his first words in a lot of ways.  He's quite articulate and polite don't you think? "Can you open the door for me please?" That's our boy. :)

He's getting it and I'm getting it too.   We're communicating and he knows it.  He's starting to expect that we hear him, even when he's not saying anything at all.  It's a glance, a tiny gesture, or the push of a talker.  It's a beautiful, wonderful, spectacular thing.


Beth said...

i dream of what betsy's speaking voice sounds like.

on a brighter note...betsy uses an aug com device, but i want the little ones you all have around your home.

what are they called and where did you get them?

love those!!!

he is a smart little guy!

Lisa said...

Thanks Beth!

We got them from the school district. They're AbleNet Talking Symbols. Not sure where you can buy them. They are pretty awesome, I'd like about 5 billion more. :)

Anonymous said...

Beautiful. Wonderful. Spectacular.

Candace said...

We were using one of those in therapy on monday, first time I had seen one! That's a great idea to set them out around the house! Go Elijah!

Anonymous said...

Wow Lisa--I'm so pleased for you all! From my perspective of not seeing you, Andy and Elijah very often, you are making huge strides. God is good! Love, Peggy

Mommy K said...

Way to go, Elijah! So exciting to see progress in any form. =)

I appreciate you taking time to answer my questions. It's helpful to me as I look toward the unknown future.


sugar magnolia said...

Wow! I've never seen that before, and really appreciated your deep details and pictures. Go Elijah! I love progress, and look forward to reading more posts on "he's getting it"!

Kathy Lausted said...

And don't forget those times when Elijah gets in those "giggly moods" especially around supper time....then his talker says, "Ha, ha, ha, that's funny!" Which is followed by more giggles. It's the best behavior modification tool I've ever seen. It is awesome. Love that Elijah. GrammaKat

Anonymous said...

sorry, been a little MIA, but just wanted to say how excited I am for you!

We've started LJ on picture cards now (black picture with a red outline-red is his favorite or preferred color so that gets his attention). I've always tried to vocalize what we're doing but this kind of reinforces it. I'm hoping one day he'll be able to show us what he wants... and of course, I'm not giving up on his actual voice either. I just know that will take a little more time.

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