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Will A Speech-Generating Device Take Over His Voice?



It was the best news I have heard in a long time...Nolan was getting an augmentative communication device I so dreamed he would have! This sounds like awesome news, right? Well, sort of...

The minute I opened the package and pulled out the device, I thought to, this should be as easy as pie to set up, as well as an end all be all to Nolan's communication deficiencies! After all, the device looked just like an iPad. It was appealing to the eye and it was portable! And then I turned the device on...

As soon as I started the set up process, fears and anxieties started rushing through my bones...

An iPad it was not! I had no clue how to even get past the first start up page! There were so many picture icons and categories! How does this thing work? Did I make a mistake? Would this alternative communication replace his spoken language? Will he rely solely on this speech-generated device? Would he just click, click, click on every button like he sometimes does while using his other technology devices? Will the device be his ONLY voice? Ugh! What do I do now?

I need to send it back, I thought! This was all so overwhelming!

And then I did some research...

According to a study done by Millar, Light, Schlosser (2006),

89% of participants who are AAC users improved their speech skills

Picture exchanges also has been proven to improve language development of children with Autism

So would this reduce some of the psychological stress Nolan displays when he wants or needs something he can't find the words for? Would the frustration I see on his face when he can't find the language he wants diminish with the assistance of this equipment? fears and anxieties were slowly beginning to be squashed by the research!

I took a deep breath and began a game plan. I took an online course on how to set this baby up! It helped...a little. What TRULY helped was the assistance provided by Nolan's speech therapist and special education teacher at school. Not only did they give me a quick "how to do" training on the device, but they also communicated to me that this too was a challenge for them when they were first introduced to a device like Nolan's.

I wasn't alone...

So after all of the self-induced stress and fears I had about Nolan using the device were squashed by research and help from his educators, I began to "play" with it a little. It didn't seem as overwhelming as I initially thought. Yes, it will take time and effort to adapt to this speech-assisted device, but now I know, if used properly, this can only help, not impede Nolan's communication and language skills.

We all want the same thing for our children...opportunities for effective communication.

So if you just opened up your child's device and you felt the same anxieties I did...DON'T GIVE UP! Take a deep breath and realize that setting up and using the device is just like anything takes time; I have come to realize that.

Moms that have children who use an assisted device, did you have the same fears I did? If so, how did you overcome those fears?

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