Saturday, July 2, 2011

Timmy's New Voice

Hi everybody! Mortimer here. I have two pieces of super exciting news to share with you! The first is that I found a buy-one-get-one-free deal for antler polishing here in Laurel, MD! That means that if I pay to have one of my antlers polished, they will polish the second one at no extra charge!! The other moose here, Derek, is soooooo jealous!

The second piece of very exciting news is that some very generous and thoughtful friends got together to give Timmy a voice! Timmy's mommy and daddy have some friends from the church they went to when they were growing up (Lakeholm) who live here in Laurel. They have been storing some of Timmy's milk in their freezer. Timmy and I and Timmy's mommy and daddy went over to their house to pick up some milk on Thursday night, and we had a big surprise! Two other friends from Lakeholm were visiting!

They had come all this way to bring Timmy a very special gift. Terri (above, right) is an SLP (a speech-language pathologist) and she specializes in adaptive communication technologies (helping people who can't speak with their voice to speak in other ways). She has been giving Timmy's mommy and daddy lots of ideas about things to do with Timmy to work on language development and communication. She had told them that now that Timmy is old enough to start communicating, he might benefit from some technology to help him talk. It is very important to us that we give Timmy every possible opportunity to communicate (whether that be through sign language, gestures, facial expressions, or technology). Timmy and I have a special language that we use to speak to each other. I have not been able to teach it to Timmy's mommy and daddy though (they are kind of slow...but don't tell them I said that).

Terri gave Timmy a present. He opened it up, and guess what was inside!

Terri had organized all of our friends at Lakeholm to get together enough money to buy Timmy an iPad!! They also bought him a case for the iPad and enough gift cards from iTunes to buy several communication apps for it (and some of these apps are not cheap). There are a lot of apps out there that are designed for kids with special needs. (This website and their page on Facebook has lots of good information.) Timmy, upon opening the super-duper gift, promptly christened it by chewing on it. It seems to be a hit from the start!

We are so very excited! Right now, Timmy is learning to use a couple of apps that turn the iPad into one giant button. We can take pictures and record sounds, and when he pushes the button, it says a word or a phrase. Timmy's friends T and S volunteered to lend him their voices (R was asleep at the time, but he will add his voice later). And now Timmy is learning to talk! We are so excited about all of the possibilities for Timmy. Right now we have it set up as one button, but eventually when he gets older, we'll be able to put multiple buttons on it and he'll be able to choose what he wants to say.

Timmy can do all sorts of things with it. For example, if we put it in the crib when we think he's about to wake up, he'll be able to push a button and say, "I'm awake, Mortimer!"

We are also finding some other good uses for the iPad. We found a fantastic app that will allow us to put all of Timmy's medical records in one place (not an easy feat!). It will even allow us to attach pdfs and images to different places in his records. (So, for example, we can attach the pdf of an op report to the record for the op report of one of his ML&Bs, and then attach the photos from the ML&B.) This will be a big improvement on the expanding blue file and little green notebook that Timmy's mommy and daddy are using now to keep track of everything!

But for now, here is a video of Timmy learning to use his new voice:

Timmy's mommy and daddy asked me to clarify one thing. Timmy's new iPad will not take the place of him learning sign language. Instead, we are trying to give Timmy as many different ways to communicate as possible.