Joey’s AAC device was returned a few weeks ago, much to my delight . Almost immediately he became his old chatterbox self, sharing his observations, thoughts, comments, and desires. It was so nice to hear Joey’s inner voice and thoughts again.
Sadly, it didn’t take long for the device to start slowing down just like it did back in November. Joey went from using his device accurately, quickly, and in socially appropriate ways, to slowly and laboriously attempting to choose a word – only to have the machine not respond to his eye gaze.
It is painful to ask Joey a question and then wait while he stares at the device, attempting to select the word he wants. When there is no response his initial efforts, he tilts his head, smiles, looks away, changes his position, or even giggles. It is as though he is actively attempting to persuade the device to select his word through his social skills. Joey is working so hard, with such a limited reward. It seems almost cruel to ask him to use it with this delay, yet it also seems cruel to take it away from him and leave him without a vocabulary.
So we wait, patiently, while he selects his word, or attempts to select it, again and again. At times, when I can tell what he wants to say, especially if he’s made numerous attempts, I’ll go ahead and select it for him because it is not his fault the machine is not responding.
I don’t know many five year olds who would be quite this persistent with choosing their words. Come to think of it, I don’t know adults who would persist with such a frustrating task. This is such a powerful reminder of how much Joey values communication and having access to his words, while also serving as a witness to Joey’s strength and persistence. I just wish we could magically fix it for him, or make it easier in some way.
I understand there are set plans to fix the problem and not leave him without a way to communicate while it is being fixed, so hopefully we’ll have him back in action soon.