Monday, May 25, 2009

Mommy vs Machine

.. is an epic failure.

Ok, it's not that bad, but I'm frustrated. We got Jaymes long awaited Vantage Lite last week. But first, here's why my post might not make total sense.

I'm not all here this afternoon. Echo the dog had doggie diarrhea ALL over my house last night around 2am. I woke up from a dream about poop (I don't know, must have been the smell messing with my subconscious!) and realized the smell was NOT the dream, and tiptoed to the light switch in the dark praying I got the lights on before my feet met those godawful brown puddles. Thankfully, for once I was successful. Cleaned up the horrible, terrible, foul smelling mess and put the offender outside to squeeze out whatever nastiness was left in her. She took all of 2 minutes to run back inside and leap into bed with me again. I'm surprised she didn't wake me up getting out of the bed when she originally had her accident, and wish she had so i could have prevented at least some of it. Went back to sleep with the blanket over my nose to block out the lingering poop smells. Ick.

Now, back to the super-complicated-mommy-hating-machine of DOOM. It's actually really, really cool. Jaymes is still learning to use it, but he is getting better. He can request a cookie or a cracker with no trouble whatsoever, which is great on one hand, but on the other means we're out of cookies and I cut off his cracker supply.

The thing has a zillion different keys and functions and it's beyond complicated. I mean like brain surgeon complicated. Like Jaymes Speech and OT's only able to do certain things with it complicated. I get the feeling one needs a PhD in order to really understand how the thing works and get it programmed just right. I considered myself pretty technologically savvy, but the Vantage has blown my mind. I'm not THAT talented.

I can turn it on. Thanks to the Speech Therapist's cheat sheets and programming, I can get to where Jaymes can have it do a few things. Here's a list of what he can do with it:

-Ask for different foods
-Answer "what's your name"
-Ask for a drink
-Tell me to "stop"

It's really neat too, when you ask him his name, he pushes the button that says "My name is Jaymes" out loud, then he thumps his chest and says "My name Jay!"

The things you can do with this device are really endless, however at the moment no one knows how to do some of the things I'd like to do with it. They (the speech therapist and OT) said they can get someone in to train me on it, which is good. Hopefully that doesn't take too terribly long, I'd like Jaymes to be getting more use out of it. Things I want to learn to do, or fix/change on it:

-Delete out the keys with food items Jaymes doesn't eat (lobster, pad thai, weird stuff)
-Delete out unnecessary keys for now (the "I hope" or other more.. language oriented stuff...etc)
-Upload photos of things Jaymes commonly requests or uses to have instead of the pre-loaded icons
-Get rid of the activities Jaymes doesn't do (Play UNO, read a book, sing a song)
-Simplify how Jaymes gets to requesting items. For example, for food items, right now he has to press 3 keys to get to the food menu. The icon for I, the icon for want, and the food icon. Then he has a bunch of submenus he can choose from (lunch, dinner, chinese, drinks etc) that is really too complex for him. What I'd like to see is this:

Press the icon for "I/me"
Press the icon for "I want"
Press the food icon

A page comes up with the basic foods he most commonly eats- the ones I can guarantee are in the fridge. It would have yogurt, hot dog, hamburger, ravioli, banana, etc. Not a whole lot. Maybe a submenu for snacks and one for drinks.

And on the subject of the drinks... I hesitate to even use it with him at the moment because despite his loving to use it, he asks for Pepsi every time. It needs to have everything but water, juice, milk, and iced tea taken off. Jaymes doesn't need wine, LOL. Or soda. Nooo.

Anyway, I have not done any horrible damage to the thing yet, though I did accidentally reset it to factory settings and had to go back and fix everything I deleted. Now I'm kind of afraid to mess with it. If I break it, I will forever be known as the moron who broke her kid's communication device. Go Amber.

I'm looking forward to learning how to use it properly, and being able to customize it to Jaymes needs without fear of erasing everything. It frustrates me to have to wait and try to work around the things that make it harder for Jaymes to use, but somehow I imagine I'll survive. We're just so lucky we even got one. I think it will make Jaymes' daily living so much less frustrating, and in doing that, it'll make mine less frustrating too.

Oh, and school AGREED to use it, it's in the IEP. You know what else was discussed too? A BUS AIDE.

I love you, Mrs. Williams. And the wonderful speech therapist @ school too.


Oops, I forgot to add in my ambitious plan for my website. Super secret plan to get a LOT more traffic over there. I've scoured the internet in search of parent-friendly videos on using and programming the Vantage Lite. There are none. Literally, none. There are 2 on Youtube that show you how to do things with a bluetooth phone. Useless to me. There aren't even any parent-friendly TEXT guides or cheat sheets. Spo once I know how to use the sucker, I'm going to put together both video and text cheatsheets and lessons on how to use the thing. i figure if I am having that much trouble finding any help with the thing online, then am lot of others are too probably, and having the monopoly on that search criteria will jack up my site traffic.

And help my fellow parent, of course.

-Innocent face-

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