Though we LOVE Matthew's half a dozen words, and the fact that he tries so hard to speak, it is time to find something else to help him communicate.
Last week, I freaked out thinking about all of the alternative communication options for Matthew. After that initial freak out, a plan (of sorts) was born.
First, I requested an assistive technology evaluation for Matthew through the school district. I didn't know who to ask, but I talked to the diagnostician who I worked with originally when we moved, and she was wonderful! His teachers and therapists at school agree it is time. So, I don't know what will come out of it, but that is in the works.
Next, I signed up for another semester of sign language class. While we were working with Matthew on sign before he had his 'verbal explosion' this summer, he had picked up roughly a couple of dozen signs. I had stopped classes this summer and didn't pick them back up for the Fall, thinking that Matthew was on the verge of talking. With that assumption, we signed with him less and less too and he lost all but a handful of signs. So, I head back to class tonight and we are making a more pointed effort to pair signs and spoken word.
As well, Matthew's private speech therapist has started working with him using pictures to help him communicate, but not quite PECS (for those of you who know what that is) yet.
Finally, I heard through many special needs sites and posts on Facebook that the iPad is the way to go for communication technology. There seems to be one application that is the gold standard, but it is only available on Apple, not Android. I hesitated on pursuing this option because it is the most expensive option. If I knew it would work, money wouldn't be a concern, but $500+ for the ipad and $200+ for the app seems like a pricey experiment. I surfed secondary sites with no luck of finding a much lower priced option. Still wanting to try everything, I posted on my Facebook wall and many of my friends were willing to help search or offer additional suggestions, and one of my dear friends even had an iPad for us. (Thank you, Matt!) I sat at my computer screen looking at that post, and was reminded how very lucky we are that we have the friends and family we do. This journey would be much harder without them. So, we'll be able to try that technology with Matthew soon.
Our best guess is that there isn't ONE answer, but a combination of answers that will be best for Matthew. Hopefully we find the right mix to give 'voice' to our sweet baby Matthew.