In the past few weeks, Lila’s use of her AAC device has changed in some really cool ways. She is taking charge of it more, bringing it to us when she wants to use it, and she is navigating from page to page easily and without modeling. When we model something for her, she tries it immediately afterwards. She is using 2 and 3 word combinations.
We have a page for books and one of the books is Brown Bear Brown Bear, which we then got from the library. She can navigate from her main home page to the “read page” and then to the “early books” page to select “Brown Bear Brown Bear”. That is some pretty intense navigation! We model the navigation for her but we don’t do hand-over-hand to show her how to navigate, and we don’t usually go step-by-step with her, like telling her, “okay now hit the early books button”.
She is also integrating our speech practice into imaginative play and reading to her dolls. She set this up entirely by herself yesterday.
On Monday, she was home from daycare since she was sick all weekend, and after asking me to play trains with her, I was playing and then stopped to add some more trains to her wishlist. Suddenly she got up, marched over to her talker, and hit “you” “play” and looked at me until I put my phone down and went back to playing. I was extremely impressed with both her pronoun use and her level of sass.
She also successfully navigated from the Social page to the Family page in order to say, “I love you, Daddy” which is very cool. She has found the Alexa page and has been successfully able to get our Alexa to play “Shake it off” (for some reason that is one of the default songs). Alexa instructions are hit or miss because the devices can’t talk to each other that well - the echo can’t hear the talker, especially if she’s already playing a song. There is also one Alexa button that is set up to open the page, but doesn’t say “Alexa” and then there is an Alexa button that says “Alexa”. So this morning she kept navigating back to groups, hitting the Alexa button, and then being frustrated that it didn’t say “Alexa”. I showed her where the Alexa button is on the actual page and she was delighted to then get Shake it Off to play. One thing our SLP emphasizes a lot is keeping the placement of buttons that are on the same page consistent page to page, so that she knows where they are and how to reach them, and this made it clear to me that that really is critical.
She still sometimes will just sit with her talker and push all of the buttons, but she is doing it in a more purposeful way, as if she is exploring what different buttons do, rather than just pushing them. She is also getting more and more precise with using her finger to push the correct button, and making sure that she hit the correct button and correcting it if she didn’t. She has gotten very fast about pushing the button we push if we are modeling - as soon as I push a button to model, she has her finger there to repeat what I’m saying before I can get to the next word. She also is loving the “animal sounds” page and this morning was doing a lot of work with the “says” button. We are still working on the consistency of phrases like “cow says moo”, but this morning we had a great exchange where I would hand her an animal, say the animal name, and she would find either the name or the sound. Or she would say an animal, I would hand her the animal, and then she would make the sound.
We aren’t currently sending her device to daycare with her because we wanted her to have just a little bit more ownership of it and be comfortable using it and navigating it herself because her teachers won’t always be able to model it, but our hope is to send it in September and then have her therapists work with her teachers to integrate using it in the classroom. It’s still 1/3 her size but she’s working on carrying it.