A couple months ago we got the Proloquo2Go app for Rhema.
Proloquo2Go is an alternative and augmentative communication application, and its name comes from Latin, meaning “speak out loud.” (I kind of love that).
The app has a default vocabulary of nearly 8000 words and picture symbols.
For us, it feels a bit HUGE.
One of my concerns is that Rhema has long used her iPod Touch as a ‘toy’, and now we want her to view it as a functional communication device. We’ve been slowly trying to help her understand it all, and navigate the new app. Her teachers are prompting her to form just one sentence using a picture symbol: “I want .”
At home, we’ve just let her play around with the app. She taps the screen repeatedly, so fast you can almost see the smoke rising. From the start, Hope has been convinced that Rhema is talking to us with the device, and we must urgently respond.
The computer-generated voice intones,
“Lime. Lime. Lime. Lime.”
“Mommy! Rhema wants a lime!!!”
“Pomegranate. Pomegranate. Pomegranate. Pomegranate.”
“Mom! Do we have any… pom-poms???”
“Hope, she’s just in the fruit category. I don’t think she really wants–”
“Blackberries. Blackberries. Blackberries. Blackberries. Blackberries.”
“Oh no! She’s hungry for blackberries. Maybe blueberries? Are there any blueberries left?”
“Chopsticks. Chopsticks. Africa agency. Africa agency. Af-. Af-. Africa agency. Africa agency.”
Hope smacks her head and looks at me like I don’t know how or where you’re going to get chopsticks and an Africa agency, but you better get it fast.
Recently Rhema found a pre-recorded Taco Bell order on the app. A man’s voice politely asks for two tacos and a diet coke. Every time she ‘places’ the order – in the bathroom, in the car, in a waiting room – we burst into laughter at the random sound of a man requesting extra sour cream.
As I said, it’s been slow going.
But the other day we’d been cooped up inside too long, and she oozed restlessness as she fidgeted with her iTouch at the table.
I peered over her shoulder and my heart quickened with The Big Hope and excitement that maybe she’s getting it (or always ‘got’ it).
And just maybe, one day, the words won’t be locked inside. One day she’ll be able to share with me all the thinks she thinks. All that she knows and feels and dreams and sees.
It was too wonderful to imagine, and I had to stop myself.
But as I stared at the sentence she’d formed:
“I want to play. To play.”
…The Big Hope stole in again, and took me prisoner.