Stop it, Mom!
While helping Savannah to find her symbols to formulate her e-mails, I was so excited to note how many symbols she could independently locate. When we started using communication software for her, about ten years ago, it was not even in my realm of possibility that she would ever be able to independently locate symbols within category tabs.
Her concentration was so poor and she showed very little interest in anything except for the media player which she used on her desktop computer. She had all her music stored in the media player, and it was about the only thing she could independently do, without someone prompting or modelling it for her.
I remember watching Marina Herold (OT, AAC) teaching Savannah categorisation about seven years ago, using The Grid Software. I watched at each session as she calmly guided Savannah in locating words in the correct categories. At that time, I was much younger and a far less patient person than I am now. I remember feeling overwhelmed by how labour intensive teaching Savannah was going to be. I just wasn’t sure if this was in fact the correct path for us as a family. Would we be able to support Savannah’s vocabulary development and use of technology?
Several years later, having overcome many obstacles; and that includes overcoming myself in parenting a child with special needs; I am taken aback, as Savannah verbally instructs me to ‘Wait, mom’ while she locates a symbol by herself. ‘Stop it mom’ as I attempt to point out a symbol that I assume she does not know. Yes, I know I should wait for her to ask for help, but sometimes, even I forget the rules, and am just a ‘mom’.
I’ve waited a long time for Savannah to be self-motivated to be part of our world. I hoped desperately that she would engage in simple activities, without me having to convince, encourage, set up and organise it for her. As I look back over the years, inch by inch Savannah is becoming more involved in her own life, and is taking back from me that which I didn’t want in the first place, but now I’m struggling to let go off: a child dependent on me for everything, and now a child finding her independence from me. ‘Ouch’
About the author:
Ten years ago the story of how Savannah began using pictures to communicate inspired many people. Her journey involved many things, from picture pointing with PCS, using the Big Step by Step to to learn how to communicate, the Tech Speak to participate in reading activities and classroom lessons, Speaking Dynamically Pro to make longer sentences and requests, to word approximations and then to using her own voice to speak some words and phrases; these were the stepping stones to Savannah becoming the young lady she is today. Through this journey, Desirae found her passion in not only helping her own daughter to communicate, but to also advocate and teach others about AAC. Desirae and the rest of her family understand how difficult the special needs journey is. They also provide a network of support and information to families who have a member with special needs, always striving to keep families together. “We can never imagine, the things we make it through on the Special Needs Journey, that break us wide open to become the people we never imagined we could become – a very special needs resource.”