Update! (IEP Meetings, Niki Talk, AAC, Random Life Stuff)

Hello my friends! I know I have been kinda absent from the blog, but that is because the end of February/beginning of March tends to be a crazy busy time for our family. March is when we have Liam’s IEP meetings with his school and it’s his birthday month. This year in particular was a pretty big IEP meeting because Liam is going to be in Kindergarten next year, so there have been extra meetings and evaluations and we aren’t done with them yet!

Liam has been using a physical PECS system to communicate at school. PECS is a way for non-verbal/mostly non-verbal people to communicate using a PECS book and sentence strip. Here are some example photos:

31sL8wRU6mL i want pecs training -  purple copy

It is a great system, however we had moved past it in Liam’s private speech therapy and started to use an AAC (Alternative & Augmentative Communication) app on a tablet at home. The AAC app we chose is called Niki Talk. We chose it for several reasons mostly because it is set up like a PECS board so it looked familiar and the second major reason is that after a 30 day free trial, if you purchase the app you get unlimited downloads on Apple and Android devices! When Liam started using this app, he lit up like a Christmas tree and he loves the fact that it “speaks” for him. You can program a male or female voice and there are many languages available to choose. Liam and I have actually had arguments in the car using this app! He will tell me “I want french fries” or “I want McDonalds” using the app. I will reply back to him “Not today” and then he will verbally yell “NO!!” and use his app to repeat those sentences over and over! It is awesome! I would highly recommend this app to anyone wanting wanting to check out AAC apps but not the $200 and up apps. This app is 49 Euros (the dad who created it for his daughter lives in Italy), I used my PayPal to purchase the app and the total cost in US Dollars ended up being $59.26

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So this is all exciting and awesome right? The school system should be eager to get on board right??

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I had done my research on AAC apps vs a physical PECS system. I had already requested the school start testing him for AAC tablet in the classroom (which they had started but not finished) and the lady who was conducting the testing was coming to the IEP meeting. One of the first things the tester said was that she didn’t think a tablet would be a good fit because when she tried to get Liam to use her iPad he wanted nothing to do with it.

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This is the boy who has instinctually known how to use and loves using iPads and smart phones from the first time he could manage to hold them on his own! So I told her that was not at all like Liam and it was probably because he didn’t know her. The next big objection was that per the research they received in their PECS training it was best for students to master the physical PECS system before moving onto an app/tablet.

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Parents let me tell you something if this is thrown your way in an IEP meeting. There is no independent research that states that this is true. If it comes up in your IEP meetings ask them to show you independent research. They won’t be able to give you any. The only “research” they knew about was what the PECS trainers gave them. OF COURSE the PECS trainers will provide research that says that kids need to master their program before moving on to something else. I want to state that there is nothing wrong with PECS system, however, Liam has been rocking the Niki Talk app and we wanted him to use it at school!

So once I busted out with “that isn’t true and here’s why” the next thing that came up was that the school couldn’t let Liam bring in his tablet because there wasn’t any legal release for me to sign so the school wasn’t liable for damages.

tumblr_lzvuramUbD1qjemo2o1_400 anigif_enhanced-buzz-7617-1378778105-9 will not accept

My mom was in the meeting with me and she was like “Uh yeah, I work in a Jr High and every single one of those kids has a tablet and/or smart phone”. Then the county answer was “Well we are Special Ed not General Ed so it’s different and I will have to check with my boss”. At the end of the 2 HOUR IEP Meeting, I had it written in that he could bring his tablet to school and use his app because I wasn’t budging. The rest of the meeting went smoothly with his goals for the next school year. After the meeting mom and I went to breakfast and then I was all:

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Of course, we have to have a whole other round of meetings in May for Kindergarten placement and test results. Sigh.

If you are looking into AAC for yourself or a family member, my favorite website that gives great advice is PrAACtical AAC go check it out!

This weekend is Liam’s 5th Birthday Party and we rented a huge inflatable obstacle course, which Liam will love!

If you aren’t following me on Instagram, you should go check it out! Even when I am too busy to post here, I am almost always posting in Instagram! I am at One Lost Mama

Hope everyone is having a great week!

Thanks for reading!

What I’m Reading: Diggy (Liam Edition)


Diggy Cover

I was recently given the opportunity to check out this Diggy ebook (you can buy it on Amazon). I was happy to have the chance to review it, because 1. Liam loves (LOVES) anything to do with vehicles and 2. I am still in the process of loading up my new Kindle with things to entertain Liam, so it was a Win/Win for me!

On to the review!

In case you are a new reader (Hello!) or an old reader who hasn’t seen a post about Liam here is a quick run down: Liam is my amazing, funny and handsome four year old son. He also has been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), Communicatively Disordered and Developmentally Delayed. What all that means is that although he is four years old, developmentally his language is around 22 months old.  His language is starting to emerge, so books like Diggy with short and easy to understand language is perfect for him!

Diggy picture

This book has a lot of vocabulary words (on, up, out, down) which we are currently working on getting Liam to understand and use. It is not complicated and would be perfect for any young toddler who loves construction themed items!

I would happily recommend this book for your toddler and will be looking forward to new releases by the author.

Thanks for reading!

 

Liam Update

update

Just wanted to write an update to what has been happening with Liam since this time last year.

Just in case you are a new reader, my son, Liam has Moderate Autism.  He is not very verbal but is making progress.  When your child has autism a lot of things that parents of typically developing kids take for granted are causes for big celebration because communication is really hard for Autistic kiddos.  That is why if you have only ever been around neurotypical (NT) kids you may read the following and be like “Why is she so excited about that??”  The reason it is so exciting is because he works so hard all of the time just to start to be understood.

Liam has been in his autism preschool class for a year next month.  He has made huge progress.  Huge doesn’t actually begin to describe how hard he has worked.  I’m not even sure I can adequately describe how amazing school has been for him.  His vocabulary has exploded.  His communication is still not at age level (he is almost 4 but his language is around that of a 2 year old), but he has words he can use to get his point across and he has started POINTING HIS FINGER to indicate wants he doesn’t have words for yet.  That is a huge huge step.  That is him starting to realize that if he indicates a need/want/desire to someone else (communication!) he will get his need/want/desire met!

We have our annual IEP (Individualized Education Plan) meeting next month, which is always stress inducing, because some of his goals have been met, but some haven’t quite been achieved yet.  In IEP meetings are hard because you have to go in willing to throw down to get the services your child may need, but still be polite.  It is a hard line to walk sometimes.  Luckily, my county is pretty awesome.  This will be our second IEP meeting so I’m hoping it goes as smooth as last year.  I will be studying my Special Education rights books again as we get closer to the meeting, so please don’t judge me if my posts start to sound a little stressed out.

Liam putting "izza" in his mouth for the first time last week.  It is hard for him to try new food so this was an awesome step for him (even if he didn't take a bite)!

Liam putting “izza” in his mouth for the first time last week. It is hard for him to try new food so this was an awesome step for him (even if he didn’t take a bite)!

I may write up a post later with all of the words Liam uses on a regular basis, so I have it saved somewhere I can easily grab it for the IEP.

Thank you so much for reading this proud Mama’s brag post!

It’s been awhile

It has been a few weeks since I posted.  Here is a quick rundown of Liam’s progress:

He has had a mini-word explosion!  He has started actually calling me Mama!  Also, he can count and identify his numbers 1-9.  He can also identify and say some shapes.  His favorite shape is the oval, but he can say square, rectangle, triangle and we are still working on saying circle (he can point it out just fine).  He loves Little Einsteins and will say and do their little “pat pat pat…blast off” .  Also, ducks say “quack quack”.  We have also been making sure he can say and identify all these new words in different presentations and HE CAN!!  We worked on shape names from a coloring book and not just his puzzle that he loves.  He can find and say numbers anywhere and not just with his fridge magnets at home.

He has also started saying “please”, “more”, and “all done” in context and not just signing them. I was trying to describe to some of my girlfriends what it is like when Liam just busts out with words and the closest thing I could find was an out-of-body experience.  I seriously feel like I am floating outside of my head.

In other news I am up to date with Doctor Who and have tried to rope Trent into watching it.  I am re-watching it with him & he made it through all of Season One and some of Season 2 but he isn’t sure he likes it.  I just said “Oh okay” and then I got up in the middle of the night last weekend and he had watched another episode on Netflix.  HAHA RESISTANCE IS FUTILE! You can not resist the mad man and his box for long!  He said some of the episodes are too goofy and I just again said “okay” but I know he will cave! 🙂

Well, that is the quick and dirty run down of the last few weeks.  I’m back in the (blogging) saddle.  Liam is going to be three next month.  Holy crap.  So I am busy planning his party AND psyching myself up for his IEP meeting for his transition from Early Steps to the school system….YIKES!

Liam Speaks

Trent and I were getting Liam ready for bed earlier this week and I grabbed his Teddy Bear off the couch and asked if he wanted his teddy.  Liam looked at me and looked at the bear and said “Teddy”.  I quickly gave him the bear and he said it again!  I looked over at Trent and said “Did you hear??” Trent said “Yes!”  We let Liam hold Teddy while we were getting his PJs on and he said “Teddy” several more times.

I also had a report from his teacher at school that on Thursday during music when they were singing a song about a dog that Liam said dog!

Liam has also been playing appropriately with dolls, horses and dinosaurs.  When playing with horses we can even get  him to repeat us and make a “neigh” sound.

Progress tends to comes in spurts and thenwill  even out for a while, but we will happily take whatever we can get!