Joey had such a commutative fall. He made statements and jokes he’d never made before, and truly dove into the new vocabulary words added to his device. We saw so much of him come shining through with how he was accessing his device. In October he averaged 29.6 words on his device in a ten minute period, which was his highest amount yet. I could barely keep up with him! In fact, there were sessions when he had as many as 45 to 50 words in a ten minute time span.
And then, two weeks ago, it was as though he hit the breaks. He’s had as little as 10 or 11 words in a ten minute span over the last two weeks, and most of those words are because I’ve prompted him to use his device. I am trying to figure out what’s going on. What shifted in late November and early December?
Are my lessons not engaging enough? Do I need to change my approach, bring more exciting books and materials, or change up what we do together?
Did something change on his device that makes it harder to access his words? Is the device taking longer to register Joey’s eye gaze? Has Joey’s positioning changed? If it is harder to stay with the device to find the words, it would make sense that Joey’s motivation to choose words would decrease. Even his verbal output has decreased as well, but not with the same dramatic change that his AAC output has.
In comparing the data of how Joey uses his language (when he uses it to make requests, share an idea, label something he sees, or to respond to a question), there does not seem to be a dramatic change in any one category. He just seems to be using less than before.
From talking with his other therapists it sounds like he may be on the verge of a breakthrough in occupational therapy. In watching my own children’s development when they were infants and toddlers, I remember watching them go through slight regressions right before they hit a new developmental milestone. I am hoping this is what is going on with Joey’s communication, and that he will bounce back with his new OT skills and be ready to talk even more.
In the meantime, I will keep examining my practices (how can I be more exciting to an almost five year old??), his device and his positioning, in hopes of finding whatever may be limiting his motivation to communicate.