Finding his voice
Through a partner home health agency, Joe has been receiving Speech Therapy from a THERAPY 2000 clinician for nearly six months. His family pursued home-health speech therapy after realizing that teaching Joe to communicate was beyond their expertise.
Joe’s primary means of talking is through the Proloquo2Go iPad application, which he uses as an AAC (Augmentative Alternative Communication) device. During Joe’s initial evaluation, his father had a simple request – he just wanted Joe to use his iPad to communicate with his family at home.
Megan Bruney, MS, CCC-SLP, in THERAPY 2000’s East Texas Division, knew from experience that this simple request would require a not-so-simple treatment plan. She spoke to Joe’s dad about the dedicated teamwork that would be required for Joe to meet his communication goals.
Teamwork Makes the Difference
Joe’s device was initially programmed with an overwhelming number of choices, so Megan spent time after therapy customizing and simplifying the options. After discovering through therapy that Joe responds best to actual pictures as opposed to preprogrammed images, Megan enlisted the help of Jacob, Joe’s older brother. Jacob was eager to help by taking photos of items and activities that interest Joe. To help reduce frustration between therapy sessions, Megan also trained Joe’s dedicated caregiver, Brian, to do basic configuration changes in the iPad app.
Brian, Jacob and Joe’s parents were all trained to be effective communication partners for Joe. Communication partners are responsible for walking through different scenarios involving communication opportunities, teaching prompting strategies to initiate folder/button selection in the iPad app and using hand over hand modeling to positively address error selections.
This therapeutic model was implemented from the beginning and is used when a new folder/button is introduced. A notebook is accessible within the home for questions, new folder/button ideas, changes that need to be made, etc. Each session begins with Megan checking the notebook and asking the team how things are going. An extra 5-10 minutes is spent at the end of each session customizing or modifying the device as necessary.
Megan was compelled to share Joe’s story because Speech-Language Pathologists are often handed an AAC device, by caregivers, with the simple request to get their child to use it to communicate. For Joe and his family, Megan needed to meet them on their level and create a treatment model specifically for Joe and his family’s needs. Megan and THERAPY 2000 are beyond proud of the progress Joe and his family have made.
Megan asked Joe’s communication partners what they like most about his use of the AAC device. Here’s what they had to say:
“I like the device because Joe can tell me what he wants instead of making weird sounds when attempting to talk.”
– Jacob, Joe’s older brother
“The device allows Joe to make choices about preferred food or drink items when it is meal time. He also uses it to tell me when he wants to play outside or use the bathroom.”
– Brian, Jacob’s dedicated caregiver
“When cooking dinner, Joe used to sit at the table and bang with his hands indicating he was really hungry. Now, he presses the ‘Express yourself’ folder, then the button for ‘hurry up,’ which gives the family a good laugh.”
– Daddy Paul
“I am amazed how far Joe has come using his device to communicate. It does take a team, but it is worth it because he is able to interact with his family.”
– Papa Sean