Friday, September 18, 2009

Jaymes needs to develop a functional communication system... But we won't use the one he already has.

Because that would be entirely too cooperative with the parent and outside therapists. I touched on the issue yesterday of the IEP meeting and the discussion regarding Jaymes speech device.

Awhile back Jaymes had an Augmentative Communication evaluation up at Baptist. Why did we go through Baptist and not the school? Because I asked the school and they refused to set one up with their Assistive Technology person. So, I gave up and did the work myself. I got a referral from Jaymes' Speech therapist and got him scheduled. We did the super long appointment, Jaymes did a great job and really liked using the Vantage Lite. Fast forward to a few months ago, I forget how many exactly. Jaymes' Vantage Lite arrives. It's super complicated, but really cool. Jaymes loves it. Jaymes starts using it in therapy, and learns how to use it a lot faster than the grownups do. Mommy is proud. Mommy is overjoyed when one day, as we're sitting in the kitchen, Jaymes climbs on the counter, grabs the vantage Lite, turns it on and says "I want pretzels."

Jaymes can now use his device to ask for whatever he needs at home. He will independently go get it, put it on the counter, climb up next to it, and ask. If I don't respond, he asks a few more times. He asks for specific foods, or a drink, or his eczema lotion. He asks for his shirt and pants after a bath. He asks to go outside, or for a cookie. He asks in full sentences. He can say "I want a..." or he can say "Cookie, please" or he can say "get me a..." He understands the device, he enjoys using it, and he can get his messages across. He learns new phrases and words.

When we first got the device, we'd been trying to teach Jaymes to answer "what's your name" or even just say his name. It had never happened. Used the device a few times to show him how to hit the button to answer that question, device said "my name is Jaymes" and a few tries later, Jaymes opened his mouth and said "Name is Jaymes" and thumped his chest. He answers "what's your name" consistently now. I don't know why he needed the device to learn that, but years of trying to teach him ourselves failed and he learned with the Vantage Lite in days.

He has learned to answer the question "what are your dogs names?" and answers by either hitting the button or saying it himself: "Dog name Echo Midnight." He's learned how to introduce his beloved pink blanket. He loves the blanket button, and hits it then cheerfully announces "blanket name is pinky!"

But according to the school, Jaymes doesn't need to use it. They will not use the device I worked hard to get him, that cost them nothing. They refuse to send anyone to one of the FREE trainings, and have changed his speech therapist at the school from the therapist who did attend the last training with me just for Jaymes, to a new one who has not had the training. And won't send her for training FREE. So Jaymes can't use his device at school.

Instead, the school wants to start their own Aug-Comm evaluation with their own person, to choose a DIFFERENT device for Jaymes to use. They feel the devices are all comparable, which is not the case. At the training I went to a couple months ago, the presenter very clearly explained why the Vantage Lite is unlike any of the other, older devices. It's not just a bunch of boards, and you need to know how to use it to use it. Rather than use the device I procured and just send one person to the FREE training, the school chooses to make Jaymes learn to use a second device. It won't carry over into therapy and home time, and I think it will just serve to confuse him.

So I'm not very happy. I was so thrilled when at the last IEP meeting at the end of last school year, the speech therapist said she would attend a training and promised to use Jaymes Vantage Lite in their sessions. No one argued with it at that time, no one was against it at all. I'm not sure why it's changed now, or why my child has to learn to use a whole new device to save his school some money.


Holly said...

Check out Fighting Monsters with Rubber Swords blog
and read the book too!

He went through the same thing with his daughter's school district and won. It wouldn't hurt to contact him either.

Fight for what you know is best!
Good Luck

colorisnteverything said...

Wow. I'm floored. Does the school realize how petty it is being? And since when does the child take last priority?

Veronica Leaptrott said...

As a special education teacher of 15 years, I think you should push for him to keep only one system. I believe for transition from home to school to community the system needs to be the constant variable. Not only should the SLP use it, the teacher should incoperate it in everything they do, from asking for a pencil to asking for the restroom, or choosing peers to play a game. It is crazy to make him learn more than one system. They may be simular but they are not all the same. If it is written into the IEP they are responsible for implementing it. If you pursue they will give in (or that is what I have witnessed)