Well, Mas is being the little Rock Star with the trialing of the new speech devices. We have been looking for a new device after having his Palmtop 3 into the company three times in three months. He has been trialing different devices and has been getting around them quite well. So far, we are looking at the Saltillo Chat PC and the iPod touch with the Proloquo2go program. As a family, we are *in love* with the Proloquo2go program, not only because it is highly logical in its' programming and usage features, but also because if it breaks down or gets damaged in some way, we can drive one hour away, spend $400 and buy another iPod touch and be on our way...as opposed to sending in our device and being without it for 8-14 days, and then the very real possibility of shelling out another $5,000 to replace it with a comparable item. We did buy a case for the iPod touch with external speakers, as the built-in iPod speaker is just a touch too quiet for Mas to use as a communication device. Now, I just have to attach a strap to the case so he can wear it around his waist. We have searched long and hard for a case with speakers and a strap, but it just doesn't exist. So, that's where we are in the speech world.
I had a dream the other night that Mas learned to speak, and was speaking in full sentences...tough dreams to wake up from. I remember waiting for 15 to learn to speak; she was considered "speech-delayed" in that she had only a couple of words at 2 years 3 months. We visited a speech therapist who had a lot of suggestions...about a month after that visit, 15 started to talk....and sentences came very quickly....and now she won't shut up! I wish it would have gone that way with Mas.
Yesterday we went out for an early supper with Mas while 15 was working. The battery light started flashing on his device, so I had to turn it off. He kept grabbing my hand and then wrapping his hand around my index finger and pushing it on the power button, to try to get me to turn it back on. It's times like this when you remember how much it must suck to have your voice run out of batteries. (We are all so lucky; it's a good reminder to be thankful for the abilities we all have; walking, talking, breathing, eating, etc.) He kept looking at me like, "what are you doing to me?" It was heart-breaking!
We have been preparing for Mason's IEP the first week of February...those of you who have been in on IEPs in the parent seat already know what it's like....sitting in a room with 15 other people having them tell you all that is wrong with your child...while you fight for them to get more services so that more things can be right with them. The IEP process only gets harder for us, since Mas is now 12 1/2 and we have to talk about awful words like "transition." Transition means the transition from school to some type of group home setting. As the school has to educate him until he's 21, we have some time to worry about it, but it really is closer than we think.
To that end, Mas's teacher thinks he is ready for "independent transitioning throughout the building." We were shocked to hear that at first, but know that he probably will handle it with ease and will surprise us all. We had to buy him a backpack on wheels, as they want him to get off the van and walk up to the classroom (from the basement to the first floor) by HIMSELF! So bizarre to even imagine that... Sure, this will be a gradual process and won't involve them leaving him alone right out of the gate, but it is still quite odd to picture Mas walking down a hallway, pushing the elevator button, and then walking down two more halls to get to his classroom. Talk about rock star! The good thing is, Mas is the *king* of spatial abilities...not only can he remember every single pasture where cows reside, but he can also tap you repeatedly on the shoulder and bang on his window to show it to you...in the DARK. The boy knows where he is, geographically, in the world. He also points to pastures where the cows used to be, as verified by the van riders and driver.
If all goes well, Mas will be walking himself up to the classroom every morning from the van, and will walk himself from the classroom to the van at the end of the day. He will also be walking by himself from the room to the lunchroom, library, etc. It is a very weird concept for us to get used to, especially since we are always holding his hand to go anywhere. It will be interesting to see how it goes, and to see what he thinks of the whole thing. I imagine he may think the adults have lost it! I will keep you posted....