Natalie is currently in her third week trialing the Vantage Lite, an AAC (Augmentative & Alternative Communication) device from an awesome company called Prentke Romich. These type of sophisticated communication devices have opened up the world of communication to many children and adults with disabilities who otherwise would not be able to, or would have significant difficulty, interacting with others. I understand they are widely used for children with neurological conditions such as CP but also for children with Autism and a variety of other disabilities which negatively affect the ability to communicate verbally. Normally, if the trial goes well and everyone agrees that there will be significant benefit from its use, we will place an order for Natalie to get her own! In case some were wondering, the fact that we will likely be going this route does not mean that we have in any way given up on Natalie being able to communicate verbally. Research has shown that AAC devices actually facilitate speech skills and many kids start speaking more, and more clearly, after using an AAC. I am very happy to report that Natalie has very quickly picked up on how to use her device to communicate some basic wants and needs. It was exciting to see that she seemed to really "get it" from the very first day. Below are some short videos of Natalie using the Vantage Lite during meal times. Just a note that this is a very complex device and the way we are using it now is in just the most basic way. See Fighting Monsters with Rubber Swords to learn about Schuyler, an older child who uses this same AAC device in a much more sophisticated way. This will illustrate the possibilities this device will give Natalie over the next several years.
**Please excuse Natalie's crazy hair in the last video. Someone who I won't name but who babysits for Natalie 2 days a week must not have felt the need to comb Natalie's hair that day. I suppose it makes sense knowing that this same person did not willingly brush her own hair until she was about, oh, maybe 10 years old!
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