Device will bridge gap, stop hissy fits

Published 11:55 pm Tuesday, September 30, 2008

When I want something, I can flat sure let you or anyone else know it.

I can use my eyes.

I can use my hands.

I can use my voice.

However, I never fully realized how much it would mean to not be able to have those options of communication until I was faced with the reality that sometimes those avenues don’t work.

Standing in the kitchen, it was plain to see that Mia wanted something from the snack cabinet. Her little face was animated at the possibility of holding whatever it was from inside that cabinet that she just had to have.

Now if your house is like mine and you have kids, you should know that cabinet is out of the reach of grubby little hands, so my help is required to translate what it was she wants from out of that cabinet.

Mia, who just celebrated her fifth birthday, isn’t like other children. She is hearing impaired and has articulation issues. It takes patience, skill and even more patience to decipher her verbal requests. Oftentimes, the simple act of asking for a glass of chocolate milk — or in Mia-nese “tok tok mek” — can lead to a meltdown, and I mean tears flowing, feet stomping, volcanic meltdown. And all because she’s frustrated that we don’t understand what she’s asking for.

So it was inevitable that her request led to a hissy fit before I figured out she wanted a honey bun — there is no Mia-nese translation for honey bun.

I never fully realized the overall level of frustration on both my part and Mia’s. I know I get exasperated that I don’t understand her. Imagine her point of view … to know exactly what she wants and no matter how hard or how much she tries, she can’t convey that want or need to us has to be catastrophic on the frustration level.

It’s no wonder the child has meltdowns.

A very good friend of mine (whose column is over to the left) pointed out something very important to me that would serve us all well — hearing impaired or not. Sometimes life requires a bridge to get us from point A to point B.

In Mia’s case, that bridge would be an augmentative communication device (ACD), or a board with a touch screens that actually speaks for her; however, life doesn’t offer the ACD option for many.

Imagine the things we could learn if we could unlock the mystery of the silent child locked in their own mind by autism. Wouldn’t it be amazing to hear their “voice” — no matter that it comes from an electronic box?

Wouldn’t it be even more amazing if we took the first step onto that “bridge” and used our means of communication to accomplish great things?

Thankfully, my Mia will be able to one day in the very near future.