What do you do when your basically nonverbal child wants to use the phone?
Well, first you call up grandma and let Jaycee grunt noises into the phone. Grandma asks yes/no questions which Jaycee responds with "uh." Grandma asks questions using the couple of words she can say. "Are you with mama, Jaycee?"
Jaycee says, "mama," if she's in the right mood to respond with a word.
As grandma talks, Jaycee listens and smiles. Grandma can't see Jaycee's expressions. She hears silence. Finally, grandma says, "Is she still there?"
So, that is how the past few years of phone calls have went for Jaycee.
And this year, I discovered Skype and video calls have changed our life.
Jaycee lights up when she can hear and see her grandma. Jaycee can talk to grandma in sign, using her communication device, or words. Grandma can ask a variety of questions now that other options are available with the video. Grandma can see her facial expressions. Grandma can see if Jaycee leaves and doesn't have to ask if she's still in the conversation. The conversation isn't so one sided now.
I initially got Skype because my husband and I took a trip earlier this year. I couldn't go 5 days without seeing my kids, so Skype seemed like a great idea. But since then, I've used Skype when Jaycee says she misses her grandma. We used Skype when she was in the hospital for a week this summer. She was able to see her cousins, grandma, and brother. It was nice because her brother could see us in the hospital too through Skype. She was able to Skype with her teacher while in the hospital too!
At first, I got Skype for me, so I could see my kids. But, Skype has opened up so many doors for Jaycee. I think Skype is essential for a child who doesn't have words for the primary communication mode.