I opened the door to Joey’s house and found him waiting for me at his device. He looked at me, grinned, turned back to his computer, and said “Hi Miss Ann-Bailey. My name is Joey.” I can’t tell you how exciting it was to hear him say my name – and based on the grin on his face, it seemed like he was pretty excited to say it too.
I hadn’t thought much about the need to add names to Joey’s device. It didn’t seem to be such a priority, considering the need for other highly used words. So I was surprised at how natural it made Joey’s conversation when he suddenly had access to our names.
Now during our sessions, he can say my name to get my attention, to emphasize his point, to ask for help, or to just say hi. Which he did, frequently. It was great. Occasionally, he’d say the name of other people in the house as well, and then crane his neck to see if they heard him.
I’ve been tracking whether or not Joey’s communication is in response to something I say or if Joey is initiating the communication. Now that Joey has our names, it is much easier and more natural for him to initiate. His communication intent comes across clearer when he adds my name to it. It may seem demanding for him to say “Miss Ann-Bailey, turkey” when he’s dropped his stuffed turkey and clearly wants me to get it for him. And yet, just adding my name adds such clarity around what he wants. Before, he’d just state “turkey” as though he was sending his wishes for the turkey to the universe and hoping someone would magically bring it back to him. Now, he has the power to ask someone specific to get his turkey. He can make it clear he isn’t just randomly saying turkey. Now he can pull my attention to the turkey because he’s assigned my name to it. I was surprised at how much more power and voice this gave him during our session.
He also had the names of his classmates added, and it was fun to be able to ask him about kids in his class and who he likes to play with. I’m excited to watch and hear how Joey’s social interactions go now that he can address us all by name!