This is a follow up to an earlier post, Xeb and Writing: Part 1
Sebastian used two methods of free writing with the CWAS team, the MegaBee and the Print Alphabet Flip Chart. He chose which one he wanted to use by using his eye gaze and smile technique. He chose fairly equally with both and learned how to use both equally as well.
The instructor holds the MegaBee up and looks through the center window to see Sebastian and where his eyes are looking. Each square is color coded and has 6 letters from the alphabet. First, he has to choose the square where the letter he wants is. An overlay is placed on top of the letter boxes and he has to then choose the letter. It is a bit complicated, but teaches him the skill to go through two steps to choose each letter. I wish he didn’t have to go through so many steps to choose a letter or communicate his thoughts, but in using a communication board or even more advanced technology, he will need that skill and build on it to communicate even more complex thoughts. The person he works with has to really be able to understand him and his eye gaze for successful partner assisted communication.
Print Alphabet Flip Chart:
We use this more often as we have one at home to practice on. I wish we could do it once a day and my goal is to get to that. But we try at least once a week, although since Tallula has been born it has been more about getting into a good routine for all of us! We will add that to our routine soon enough. There are 5 rows with letters of the alphabet on the top of the flip chart, with the most commonly used letters first. This is also partner assisted. The partner asks Sebastian if the letter he wants is in this row and then goes slowly through each letter. When he smiles, the partner confirms the letter and writes it down. If it is not in that row, flip and go to the next row. After each letter the partner sounds out the word, showing him the text. Once it looks like a word the partner asks if the word is finished. If it is the partner tries to guess the word from the text Sebastian has chosen, much like a child free writing in a journal. The teacher would look through it and write the text beneath that it appeared to be, sometimes with the help of the child. Here, the partner will underline the letters that are in his word and the word she thinks it is, demonstrating a connection. Before we had the opportunity to work with the flip chart I had no idea what early literacy learning would look like with Sebastian.
Using writing skills and techniques to communicate:
Sebastian amazes me. I watch him look away from the flip chart and wait until the last row to choose a letter; sometimes he wants to smile at his partner so he looks away so as not to choose the wrong letter due to miscommunication. This really illustrates his knowledge of his letters as well as his desire to communicate what he is thinking. I think one of the biggest messages I want others to know and understand is that just because he can’t speak, does not mean he doesnt understand or that he has nothing to say. I find myself reminding or explaining to others often that he understands everything. When we met our new neurologist he asked me if there was anything else about Sebastian he should know. I told him that he understands everything. He then asked if Sebastian was asked where mom was in the room, would he know to look at me? What about understanding EVERYTHING did he not understand?! During our sessions Sebastian used each writing activity to communicate, whether it was a thought, request or response to a photo.
Examples fo Sebastian’s writing:
Sebastian’s first free writing exercise. Editor was ambitious, I believe it was eat treat, as he has spelled similar messages in later sessions and it was also prior to snack time.
Sebastian’s writing after being shown a picture of him and his Papa-daddy at the park. He was asked to write about the photo. We did a series of sessions where we showed him a photo and he wrote about the photo. This was my favorite. He sure does love his Papa-daddy. And going to the park with him. 🙂
What’s next? Stay tuned for a post about Seb’s new communication book!