Wade uses a speech generated device (SGD) to talk. He also has limited mobility and limited use of his hands and arms. In order to use his SGD, he has to use his eyes. He activates the device using an eye gaze camera system. It is amazing. It has changed his world!
Wade’s first SGD was the iPad. We ordered an iPad almost as soon as they were released and downloaded a communication application. Miraculously, Wade learned to activate the iPad with his forehead! While it was amazing, it wasn’t practical. He needed something he could use independently.
When he was 4, we ordered his first device. We tried out a lot of devices and different access methods. At the time, the eye gaze system that worked best for him was the Tobii.
Wade liked to play a lot of games on the device, and was very, very good at navigating it. He was accurate with the eye gaze and he was fast. Unfortunately, he never really used it for communication. We were relying more on facial gestures and yes/no questions for his wants and needs. We were guessing a lot!
About 4 years later, that device crashed. I was interested in using a system with core language that relied on motor planning versus using a system where you had to pre-program in words. It was important that Wade be able to say anything he wanted, not just the words we had programmed that we thought he might need.
That led us to trialing an eye gaze SGD by Prentke Romich Company using a language system called Unity. Wade rocked the trial period, and he has now been using this particular device for two years. It has been life changing. Not only for him but also for everyone who interacts with him.
Wade can tell us when he’s hungry and what he wants to eat. He can tell us what he wants to watch on TV. He can tell us when he wants a bath and when he wants to snuggle. He tells us where he wants to go.
He asks tons of questions! He’s a very curious kid! And best of all, he can talk to his little brother and call him names that most people would think are inappropriate! I never, ever thought I would be so proud to hear those words!
Assistive technology and adaptive equipment can make a significant difference to a child with a disability. Learn more to see if it might help your child.
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