Evie's NOVA Chat, or augmentative communication device, decided to go kaput today. The sound worked, but the screen was dead. I called Technical Support, but it was confirmed that the device would have to be sent to Texas to be repaired. Insert crying emoji.
I didn't realize how big of a deal this was until Evie sat at the dinner table and started looking around for her NOVA Chat. She wanted to tell me something, and couldn't. I tried to guess. This amounted to further frustration, which culminated in lots of yelling from Evie. I told her to use her inside voice, but I was just as frustrated as she was when I couldn't understand what she needed. Dinner took a very long time. She didn't even want a hug.
I went on the Saltillo website and printed the "low tech"version, which are PDF's of core words. I showed her the pictures, and she really tried, but when she pressed a button that was supposed to trigger a new screen, she couldn't understand why the paper didn't change like a computer screen.
More frustrated roaring and yelling ensued. (Did I mention that people with Down Syndrome are NOT always happy?)
By the time dinner was over, we were both roaring at each other. Even though we had just read "Dinos Don't Yell" this morning.
And then...I desperately googled Augmentative Communication apps. There are a ton out there. And they all look different. If I didn't find the exact same setup, Evie would get frustrated in a different way. The iPad version of Evie's vocal set, called "Word Power 60," is usually $300.00. I didn't feel like spending that much money for a temporary fix, but they have a lite version for $9.99. I thought $10 was worth it for 3 days of sanity, so I downloaded it.
|Saltillo Touch Chat Lite|
As soon as I showed Evie the screen on her iPad, it was like a different girl was in the room. Evie instantly lit up, started saying all the things she had been wanting to say, and started exploring the different pictures that the iPad version had. I am still stunned by the transformation as she regained her "voice" and was able to interact with me.
This lite version does not have the sound, but she is able to tell me what she wants to say as I read the screen. THANK YOU, SALTILLO, for making a lite version so that my daughter and I don't go insane from frustration. This further confirms that I prefer Apple products more than Androids, but that's for another blog post. I am still wondering if I've created a monster by combining a source of entertainment with a source of communication, but I think the benefit outweighs the risk.
Being a special needs mom definitely stretches my brain and patience, but I still wouldn't trade her for anything. She has a lot to offer, and just needs a voice.
If you haven't seen it yet, take a look at this movie that was made by MIT to be shown at the United Nations for World Down Syndrome Day on March 21, 2019. Evie makes an appearance a couple times! Keep watching to hear her giggle! https://vimeo.com/325722356 (password: MIT).