The whole fam-damily went to pick Mas up at school yesterday, and we were able to snag a few moments of time from Mas's speech therapist. She was kind enough to demonstrate the two communication boards she is looking at for Mas to use next. One is the Dynavox M3, http://www.dynavoxtech.com/products/m3.aspx, and the other is the Dynavox palmtop 3 http://www.dynavoxtech.com/products/palmtop3.aspx. She demonstrated to us the features (throw over the fence the horse some hay...just think my German heritage is showing again...) and talked to us about the pros and cons of each. The smaller palmtop one (I am pretty sure that's the one she was thinking of; there are a few smaller ones, though, and I might have the wrong name) is definitely a winner in convenience, since it comes with a bag with a strap, which they would strap around his waist, upside down, so he can look down at it and push the buttons to "speak." The bigger one, the M3, is quite heavy, (would make neat sounds when thrown....) and would be difficult to carry. It would probably require a backpack, which would mean he would be voiceless while in transit, (while on way to and from school, walking to other places in the building, etc.) which he is a lot during the day. The M3, though, has nice big words which I think are vital, since I am convinced he will be able to at least read easy words some day. His therapist said he can already go pick out the word "Thursday" when she asks him to get it off the board. I know some adults who would struggle with that! :o) The M3 also has the ability to put in an actual picture of say, our backyard, and when you push on certain parts of the picture, other things come up; for example, if he were to push on the picture of his swimming pool, another screen would come up with options that have to do with his pool. Very Cool Feature, eh? The smaller one, the palmtop, has tiny print, so that might be harder for him to see/read. Also, the buttons are much smaller, so there's an element of luck involved as far as him hitting the button he intends to hit. So, we are on the proverbial fence. It just strikes me as funny that we have to be thinking of the weight and portability of Mason's voice...amazing the things we take for granted on almost a moment-by-moment basis. Here's hoping we choose correctly, too, since the small device is around $3,000, and the larger one hovers around $6,000. Maybe we are all in the wrong business, huh? I guess one could argue there's no price too steep to have a voice, but they are maybe getting close to that. Send good thoughts Mason's way, if you would, that he would be able to show an obvious preference for one over the other, and that his therapist will be able to decide which one will serve him best in the years to come! And encourage your children to go into augmentative communication design...it's a niche business, but oh-so-lucrative!