Last Thursday was hectic but ended on a positive note. Mrs. T, Philip’s speech therapist, came to our house that evening. She brought his new iPad with the communication app downloaded and set up for his use. My parents were able to join us for the demonstration.
We are all learning the ins and outs of the LAMP: Words for Life Program. Our guess is that Philip will figure it out before any of us.
Using the device was fun. We sat around the kitchen table as Mrs. T showed us how to access the app and choose Philip’s vocabulary set. We all took turns learning how to touch the screen and produce single words and phrases.
Mrs. T encouraged us to be creative in responding to the words that Philip selects. As an example, when he selected “fast,” Mrs. T took his tractor toy and ran it over his body as quickly as she could while saying, “Fast, fast, fast!” This produced some wonderful giggles and prompted Philip to repeat the word several more times. He even tried to combine “fast go.” How cool is that?
One issue we have to deal with is making sure that Philip doesn’t close out of the app by swiping the screen. At the time, we didn’t know there is a setting on the iPad to prevent this. So, Mrs. T decided to use her words to teach Philip not to do this. After he closed the app a second time, she selected the word “mad” and calmly told Philip that closing the program made her “mad.” In response, he put his head down and covered up with his arms.
For now, we are using the iPad for short periods of time so that Philip can learn that it is a tool rather than a toy. At this point, Philip is experimenting with the vocabulary as he learns to interact with the device. Mrs. T said that he will “babble” at first, and that’s okay. She advised us to put it away if he begins to throw it or if babbling becomes just random button pushing. Knowing how Philip likes to figure things out, I don’t anticipate the latter will be as much of a problem. I know that he will purposely study the icons and select them repeatedly so that he can learn what they say.
We didn’t get as much practice and Philip didn’t get as much exploration time this week as we had hoped. We were to start sending the iPad to and from school this week. Unfortunately, there was some confusion at dismissal time and the iPad didn’t get into Philip’s backpack on Monday. Then we kept a sneezing and couching Philip home from school the rest of the week. When I realized he wasn’t going to school again until next Tuesday at the earliest, I stopped by to pick up his iPad.
Thursday evening I had the perfect opportunity to use the app with Philip. He had found a ball that we hid so well I had forgotten about it, too. I used the app to say “My turn,” and take the ball from him. He used the word “play” to ask for it back. I noticed that he was so excited about playing with the ball that he sometimes missed the button on the screen. We purchased a “Touchguide” to help with the coordination needed to touch specific icons, but we aren’t currently using it. However, I wonder if missing the button was more about distraction than fine motor control.
Our next step will be to figure out what words need to be added to Philip’s current vocabulary list. Mrs. T gave us instructions on how to add words, but I haven’t tried it yet. Again, we all need some more practice, and I don’t want to add things haphazardly. For now, we will work on using the device more frequently so that Philip knows that there is more to talk about than just playing and eating.