For the life of me, I can’t read a menu. Every time I go to a restaurant, I always prefer what other people had chosen. The problem is I order food I like and end up being disappointed because it never meets my expectations. Now I know why my Mother ordered last. It wasn’t because she couldn’t make a decision but rather she couldn’t read a menu either. [Read more…] about Guy Harvey’s Grill & Grog review
While traveling this weekend, we stopped at a Publix to pick up a few necessities. On our way out, a woman ran up to us, pointed to Jess’s iPad and asked, “ what is that?” For a split second, I thought she was just curious and then I realized, she knew it was an AAC device. Most people assume Jess’s iPad is for entertainment and they don’t realize it is her voice.
Quickly, I gave her an overview::
- Speak for Yourself can hold over 14,000 words and only has two layers.
- Words are added as we use/need them.
- Repeating a motor plan is how we remember where the words are.
Before the woman returned to work, I handed her Jess’s card. I wish I could have shared more.
This moment was a reminder that Jess needs to take her Talker everywhere. AAC awareness is celebrated every October, however, in our house it is 365 days a year. You never know who you will meet and what a difference you can make.
Growing up, my Mom made everything from scratch which meant she didn’t buy bread, cookies or prepared foods. This is just how it was. For the most part, I have followed her lead but I don’t always have time to bake my own bread.
Jessie prefers making quick breads. They are simple and don’t take all day. When it comes to food, she isn’t always patient. During the summer we make zucchini bread and the rest of the year, she likes making banana bread and chocolate is her favorite:
Chocolate Banana Bread
- preheat oven: 350 degrees
- grease bread pan, line with waxed paper.
- make sure all ingredients are room temperature.
- 3 large bananas mashed
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1/3 cup melted butter
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- 1 1/2 cup flour
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1/2 cup cocoa
- 1/2 chocolate chips
- 1/2 cup chopped walnuts.
- Mash bananas. Add sugar and eggs, mix until smooth.
- Add butter and vanilla.
- Combine all dry ingredients (tossing the chips and nuts in the flour helps prevent them from sinking) then add to the bananas.
- Bake for 60-70 minutes
- *When we were short one banana for the recipe, we substituted it with an avocado. The avocado hides in the background but does make the bread extra moist.
- Of course, if you want traditional Banana Bread, just omit the chocolate and cocoa.
We have a saying in our house, don’t state the obvious. However, sometimes what is obvious is easily overlooked. As I was falling asleep last night, I replayed the day’s events and realized I had missed an opportunity.
Because Jess isn’t as chatty at home as she is when we are out, the ice cream social was created. I don’t know which is more exciting for her, having ice cream or seeing Heidi, however, the combination is a magical combination.
I wish I could say Jess had a bevy of friends, she doesn’t. It’s easy to assume that this is because she has Angelman Syndrome (AS) but on closer scrutiny, Jess is particular about who she wants to be with. She does gravitate towards other AS people but she has only met a few. Fortunately, Jess is content with quality, not quantity, and doesn’t need to be part of a crowd. One thing I know for sure is that Heidi is on her A-list.
The staff at It’s Nutt’s know Jessie. Like all their patrons, they never rush her when she’s ordering. On this day, the restaurant was quieter than usual which makes it easier to hear Jessie’s Talker.
While waiting for the ice cream to be served (with all the toppings that she ordered), Jess saw Heidi’s new phone and didn’t hesitate to pick it up (only good friends allow others to touch their phone much less explore). Jess wasn’t interested in the apps but instead opened the photos. Somehow, she figured out how to create slideshows (I think they were of Heidi’s kids). After that, she started taking pictures and saw that she could change the filters (our phone doesn’t have this feature). Then she and Heidi played with Snapchat. All in all, it was a fun afternoon and we needed a winter distraction.
One of the biggest challenges being an AAC user is not being able to talk to other people who use a Talker. In this sense, Jess is always the odd man out. This is when I realized that we missed an obvious opportunity. There is no reason why I can’t bring my Talker and Heidi is always packing. As important as modeling language is, it’s just as important for us all to converse with our Talkers because we can. Next time, we will.
Just one more…I don’t like this photo of me but I do like the photos Jessie takes. Of course, these are just some of the unedited photos. At home, Jess uses her old iPad and an iPod. The larger iPhone 10 was easier for her to manipulate.
I read this a while ago but it still resonates with me. When I read this post, I still just want to reach through the computer screen and give the writer a hug. because it reminds me of my child., the child that was out of step with everyone else, including the disability world.
It is lonely when you don’t fit.
If I were to meet this writer, they would see support and understanding in my eyes.
Hopefully, their angst is less now and they are well.
If our life were a game show, it would go something like this:
Word of the day Monday. Every time you tap the AAC word of the day (I give her a hint by posting the written word on a door, then she is to find it on her talker) we all yell hurray just like PeeWee Herman! She loves cause and effect.
Traveling Tuesday.Our best conversations are while we are in the car. No distractions. We’ve got nothing but time to talk. We don’t even need a destination!
New-word Wednesday. A day to add a new vocabulary word.
Two-word Thursday. Must say two words together. Jess is brilliant at interjecting the exact word to interject into a conversation that sums up her thoughts, especially when people talk faster than she can respond. However, when it is just us, she is borderline lazy.
Fill in the blank or Fringe word Friday, . Fill in the last word of a sentence. This can be serious or silly. Silly is more of an icebreaker and she tends to expand what she wants to say. School never gave Jess “homework”, however, that doesn’t mean I can’t.
Secret Saturday. It’s a secret. Even I haven’t figured out the game for the day. I’m open to suggestions…
Short Story Sunday. Sum up the week in a short story. This is a way to model without pressure. Jess often begins this with “guess what” which leads to “and then what happened”.
By the end of the week, I say in my best game show announcer voice,
“Jessie, what have you won?” (To the tune of the Prices Right)
“You have won a bigger vocabulary! Because you are more interesting people will want to talk to you. You are a winner (actually she is just fortunate) because 9 out of 10 people that are non-verbal don’t have access to a speech AAC system”. In reality, the percentages probably aren’t this high.
This may all sound silly but talking isn’t always fun for Jess. Of course, these are our games and you can make up your own.
Either conversation moves too quickly, or we fall into using the same script trap. It’s like my asking my husband, “how was your day?” It’s just too mundane and predictable. This is one of the reasons Jess liked SFY. She wanted fringe words at her fingertips. Without easy access, her old AAC device became an expensive doorstop. The words she had been seeking were the ones no one thought she needed. We don’t want her to be an AAC casualty.
If you ask her, she did.
If minds are not kept moving, then they stay on idle. If you are idle too long, you may need a kickstart. When it comes to talking, we need to engage!