December 27, 2012
Immediately after our session with Heidi, I contacted our school case worker. She was very supportive. The school wanted a presentation before they would make a decision. After it was approved, we then had to wait for school to figure out how to get an iTunes account so they could purchase the SFY App. I guess, up until this time, school had only used dedicated devices. We were the first in our school system to use an App. While this was in process, school scheduled a group training (which included other parents) on SFY This was held on January 28, 2013. However, it wasn’t until Friday, February 5th that we got the iPad in our hands.
We were excited beyond words to get started! No pun intended, ha ha… Jess explored her new voice. During that first hour of exploring, I stepped away to let the dog in, and within that split second, Jess had deleted the SFY app! In a panic, called Heidi. She was able to walk me through how to reinstall from the cloud (thank goodness). This was when I learned about the invaluable feature guided access.
To be honest, the learning curve in the beginning was intimidating. Jess appeared to be happy pushing buttons. At that time, to my eye, it looked like she had an expensive interactive toy.
Heidi returned on Feb.15th for our first speech/AAC session. (School had agreed to alternate speech sessions at Jess’s work program and home). Heidi explained that I had to listen to what Jess was trying to say and then respond from there. By doing this, I could hear a theme to her context and that gave us something to build from. Now with a different ear, I was catching Jess’s thoughts. Due to Jess’s poor motor and vision issues, she would have a lot of miss hits so it made it appear that she was pushing buttons at random. We quickly learned that when she touched the right word, she would seek our eye contact and that was our cue.
Friday the 22nd, school scheduled a training with Heidi. I may not have been the fly on the wall, but I had one there who was able to tell me what happened. There were four staff against one. School felt Jess was too indiscriminate, too distractible and her fine motor was too poor. Bottom line, they felt the iPad was not appropriate for Jess. Honestly, I think the only reason school agreed to go down this road was to shut me up because I had turned into a major pain in the ass when they were forcing the PEC system. I don’t think they expected Jess to be able to understand something that they didn’t even understand. Just as Heidi had educated me, Heidi was able to show the staff how to work with Jess, Finally school began to see a glimmer of what this could be, but they still had serious doubts that this would work.
So, now we have the iPad, but there are still a few more barriers that need to be dealt with. Right now, my biggest concern is that school is focusing on training their staff and not working with Jessie.
A couple of things to note:
From first introduction to usage, it took nearly two months to get this AAC system in place. At the time, this seemed painfully slow, however, in school time, this was pretty quick.
When we decided against replacing the Dynavox, It was my decision not to get another device. Having a miserable experience the first time, I needed to be convinced that there was something that actually worked. At this time, the Dynavox system cost nearly $9,000. We just didn’t see how we could financially support it. At this time, I had no idea what an App could do.
If I remember correctly, the combined cost for our first iPad, iAdapter case and SFY was between $800-900. Finally a speech system that is affordable!
School wasn’t coming up with any solutions and I wasn’t going to buy anything without researching. Also, I need to confess, I didn’t really understand the power of an App.