There is a new voice in the house. Although he’s not doing it the conventional way, when Carson uses it, everyone listens.
Carson, 5, has never spoken, and it’s unknown if he ever will. We can’t dwell on that uncertainty. Instead, we concentrate on what we do know. He has the ability to communicate with us vocally through technology.
Fortunately, through the county school system, Carson utilizes an iPad that contains a program called ProLoQuo, which is a symbol-based alternative communication platform designed for people who cannot speak or have trouble speaking clearly. The program consists of speech panels with buttons containing text and/or images that can easily be tweaked at any time. He can unlock the iPad, open the program, push buttons to form a sentence and then make it say what is displayed in front of him. It can be one word or a sentence.
Carson has struggled with it over the last year for the most part. He has been reluctant to use it, particularly at home, despite our constant encouragement as well as insistence at times.
Lately, however, we have noticed major progress on this front, as he has been using it more and more to let us know what he wants at a given time, where he wants to go and who he wants. He can even demonstrate some good manners by adding “please” and “thank you.”
For instance, as soon as we got home from school the other night, he went straight for his iPad and used it to say, “I want to play trains please.”
Whenever he uses the device properly, we drop whatever we are doing and make it happen. In fact, Pam actually cleared the entire kitchen table and set up train tracks for him as a result of him asking her through the iPad.
Carson has always been able to communicate his wants and needs. He can do it through sign language, facial expressions, body language and obvious gestures. Even Beckett, 6, always knows what his little brother wants.
On another night, Carson took out his iPad and said, “I want to watch Paw Patrol on TV.” I immediately turned the television on and congratulated him on talking and explained how it’s easy to get something when you ask the correct way.
That led to a litany of requests, ranging from wanting to go to the beach, swimming pool and church to watching Home Alone, playing dominos and eating peanut butter.
With all that thrown at me, I asked him to narrow it down to one and he picked peanut butter, leading me to give him a spoonful of peanut butter.
So all this has led us to make some atypical parenting decisions at various times, such as bundling up to go outside at 6 at night in 20-degree temperatures because he used his iPad to clearly say, “I want to go outside, play on the trampoline please.”
It’s a work in progress for sure and we are at least partly to blame for his slowness to pick it up as a speaking device. We tend to know what he wants at all times, but we have to insist he use “his voice” to communicate. It’s not as easy as it sounds, but tough love never is.
While conversations with Carson are developing in a less than conventional way, chats with Beckett never cease to amaze me.
Sometimes I just have to get these down on paper so I will never forget them.
The first situation took place the day after the Super Bowl when Beckett learned his least favorite team won the game after beating his favorite team — the Ravens, of course — a few weeks ago.
Beckett: Mommy, are you sad that the Seahawks lost?
Pam: Well, I am disappointed but not sad. They are still the second best team and they made a lot of money even though they lost.
Beckett: Well, I hate the Patriots.
Pam: Why do you hate them? They played well.
Beckett: Because they are going to Disney World for FREE.
Pam: Yeah, it doesn’t seem fair, does it?
Little does he know, he’s about to go to Disney World as well in a month, and as far as he is concerned, it’s for free as well.
There was another conversation the next day that had me rolling as well. He brought home an art project where he drew Martin Luther King giving a speech. Neither Pam nor me were able to determine exactly what it was at first so she asked him to explain it.
Pam: Is that a man fishing on a pier and a guy in the water?
Beckett: No, it’s Martin Luther King giving his speech.
Me: Oh, but there’s only one person in the audience?
Beckett: Yeah, he gave it to a lot of people but I only felt like drawing one person in the crowd.
Me: Maybe he was just practicing for his wife?
Pam: What did he say, ‘I have a dream?’
Beckett: [Without looking up from his 3DS and in a bold voice] ‘We need to end segregation and bring in integration’ [raising one arm over his head with the 3DS in the other].
That was a proud and hysterical moment.