|Sophie's word book|
So we've started using picture communication with Sophie. It was a bit overwhelming at first but through trial and error I believe we are close to having a system that works for us. I'm writing how we went about it, in case someone is wondering.
We did have a tentative start prior which I described here. However in all honesty we didn't follow through as much as we should have even though Sophie seemed to get it even then. I felt guilty about it of course (what don't I feel guilty about?) and did take time to think about a system that would work better for us. However, what really pushed me over the hump was reading other people's stories, the memoir "Schuyler's Monster" first (about Polymicrogyria) and then finding this blog post with a very good video. Seeing that video and that cute little girl made me really think "you know what? Sophie can do this!" And then I really got started in earnest.
I decided that for us to be able to be consistent and really use the PECS we needed our own pictures of everything in Sophie's life that she does and likes. The little cartoon drawings were too abstract for Sophie i think. I started with food :) and activities she likes to do in and out of the home. Added "action words" such as walk, drive, sleep, eat. Because of the blog and cell phones I already had all the pictures of Sophie doing "stuff" I needed, and just had to assemble pictures of favourite foods. Of course realized after the fact that I missed many other words that we need so now have a running list of "words Sophie needs" that we add to. Another trip to the printer is in my near future.
Since I use the ipad for all my computing needs, I looked for an app that would create the cards (creative graphic artist I am not). This one was free and did the job in an easy and straightforward way that I could understand (yes, I am not too tech-savvy, so that's a high praise indeed). I was able to take pictures right from within the app or upload from library, add captions, and even record my voice (I didn't use this option since I was going to print). The program allows you to send the cards to email or to an air printer. For full disclosure, it did crash a couple times and the picture file was very large (be aware of this when printing and make necessary adjustments) but all in all I was very happy with it and plan to use it again. Oh and did I mention it was free?
|Corners of our home transformed into visual representations of themselves|
So the first time we sent the cards to be printed, I did not check the file like I just advised and the pictures turned out HUGE. Like, 6 by 6 inches each. And cost a fortune. I was quite mad at myself but by the time I arrived home with my giant stack of giant cards I had already fallen in love with them and figured out I will use them stuck to my walls in appropriate places. Then of course I ordered the size I had originally wanted for Sophie's binder. I think having the small cards in the binder which is portable and can go with us everywhere and the big cards actually stuck where the item is in the home (pantry, toy area, etc) really adds the consistency and level of visual support Sophie needs.
I did fumble around with the details at first. I want the picture communication to be as close to speech as possible and so originally had all the words in the binder at once (my reasoning was- if she talked she could use any of the words she wanted any time she wanted. Who am I to limit the words she can use?). However, after continually fending off requests for fruit snacks and cupcake I decided that it would be less frustrating for everyone involved if she only had access to words for items she could actually have. For the time being anyway.
She started off requesting the food items only, but then pulled off the "climb" pic so we set up her climbing ramp for her. She uses the "watch tv" one too. Since she's rocking the requesting stage I am looking of how to expand beyond that level. We do offer her choices too or use it show her where we are going (walk to park, drive to playgroup, etc).
We are beyond happy that we've found a way to communicate with her. It is hard to say, but I think she is happy too. When she walks to the kitchen now she looks for her binder as opposed to rummaging through the pantry as she used to do. My next goal is to supplement any PECS that we missed and make her binders for specific situations. I'm thinking of making a camping binder for our upcoming trip and a school binder for September. Those binders would have pictures relevant to those settings, obviously.
If anybody has any questions about picture communication or how we resolved any issues please feel free to ask in comments or on Facebook. I am by no means an expert but I would love to help if I can!