100 day challenge

As part of a group of other families using AAC devices, we are taking part in a 100 day challenge. The goal is to challenge oursevles to model our current AAC device to our child every day for 100 days. Video recording your effort is the intent, but I am less interested in the recordings and the staging that is required, and more interested in trying to use his system in different avenues. We have been able to catch a few recordings when both of us are working with him, but that is not always an option. I will share videos occassionaly to show Noah’s progress. Our 100 days will be filled with part modeling, part letting Noah show us his skills. So far, we’ve been blown away by his openness and motivation to his PODD program, especially for motivating activities. The modeling will most likely come into play (at least, initially) when we’re working on brushing teeth, waiting for a lunch to be ready, and using the restroom. These are highly unmotivating for Noah.

Noah was given an iPad 2 years ago as a gift from family. He has loved it since day 1, but we had our hesitations as to it’s usefulness for him. He enjoyed swiping from page to page, tugging on the protective case, and deleting apps. As months passed, we became exhausted trying to “teach” him how to properly use the iPad, and resolved to letting him just “play” with it. This single act has probably been our best decision in regards to the usefulness of the iPad. Noah is a self-teacher, we have learned. He can effectively find the app he wants, take photos, edit them, save them, post them to a social media site, and FaceTime nana or Mae Mae all within 90 seconds. It’s actually quite astonishing!

While we were in Rochester, we had therapists coming to our house multiple times a day. Building our lives around therapy was as simple as waking up and waiting for Cindy to arrive to “play”. Now, Noah is attending preschool, and I have very little knowledge of how his day is going, what he is working on, and what he enjoys during his school day. His therapists at school do send home a letter each day letting us know the details, but it is not the same as being involved in the decision making, and just talking to the therapists each day like I did in NY. The routine of “therapy” and “teaching” can be overlooked when life gets busy, and I felt that this challenge would be a great way to begin our summer and push us to give Noah more words.

PODD is the communication system we use with Noah. It stands for Pragmatic Organisation Dynamic Display. There is low-tech and high-tech versions of this program. We currently have the low-tech version, which consists of 50+ laminated pages (image below). Our assistive tech specialist from Rochester had this made for us last summer before we moved.

WP_20150507_004Since then, we have gradually been putting these onto Noah’s iPad using the GoTalkNow app. The app allows for voice output, which I believe is THE key for Noah to learn this program and use it effectively.

This is the first page in the program. We frequently use this for meal times or during a repetitive activity, like stacking blocks, or reading books (turn page).
page 2
The second page is where the options begin. By pushing the “I want” button, it will automatically open up another page with different activities, for example, “play outside” (noah’s favorite). The same with the “let’s go” button, and “do something”.WP_20150507_003

It’s a fairly detailed program, but is highly versatile, which is where the beauty resides. We have the option to change buttons to fit Noah’s needs or interests at any certain point. So, swimming pool one day and swinging at the playground the next.

There is a steep learning curve in all of this, and I think it has taken Matt and myself a while to come to terms with the work involved. Ultimately, we have realized that our pushing of this program will result in giving Noah more words, which is worth every effort.

I am excited to be able to share the progress Noah makes and how much we are learning in these {1st of} 100 days posts. To make things even more challenging for myself (because I can always use a good challenge) I’ve decided to push myself to start doing yoga again and have been doing this alongside the PODD challenge. So far, I’ve been reminded of why I have such a deep love for yoga, and how even a few flow sequences can have a fairly big impact on my attitude as the day begins. It’s always fun to drop down from downward to plank and kiss a cooing baby beneath me.

For the readers of kids with speech delays who follow, please message me at weatheredproject@gmail.com if you’re interested in joining this challenge. I can connect you with the group and would love to hear your input and discuss challenges and problem solving techniques with you.

Here’s to pushing ourselves, rearranging our routine, and growing stronger… mind, body, & soul.

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