Picture Perfect

Categories: Parent Perspective
They say a picture is worth a thousand words.

Colton likes to take pictures on his ‘talker’ (his AAC device). This is something I knew, and his providers and I have used as a resource from time to time. However, recently I was adjusting some aspects on the device and when I looked in the photo section, something caught me off guard.

It was two different pictures. The first photo was taken on May 27th. It was the first picture Colton had taken on his talker. It was a selfie! The second picture was taken on August 8th. Another selfie! The photos were taken just months apart.

In those few short months, a lot had transpired. Colt was adjusting to being on medicine, as we had learned that he was suffering from absence seizures. Public school ended for the year and his routine changed. Summer programming was beginning. His pediatrician, school SLP, school BCBA and private SLP all had taken different positions and would no longer be working with him. That was 4 out of his 6 main service providers.

I felt very much on guard to protect him through this process. For a child that has trouble with transition, this was a lot. I prepared for difficulty in building new relationships and increased behaviors due to changes in routine. Every moment of our lives is calculated. Every moment of our lives must have a back-up plan and then a back-up back-up plan. When you are in the thick of it, you sometimes miss seeing what is right in front of you.

This is where those two pictures come in. As you can see there are some obvious differences- a much needed haircut, not restricted in his car seat, and his camera angles are certainly improving.  However, I saw so much more…………..it was the smile on his face and the light in his eyes. It was different. It was brighter. He was full of life.

Despite the significant changes that transpired in the last few short months, I saw growth in Colton. I saw significant development of functional communication- through his AAC, written & verbal language and emotions. I saw him taking initiative and following directions. Most importantly, I saw confidence- it was confidence that he now saw in himself. I am grateful for these photos because his inner development and confidence were outwardly visible.

As a family we have tried everything we can think of to support Colt. We’ve sat through several years of speech therapy with no visible language development. We have struggled through many days of Pre-K. We’ve tried PEC cards, token boards, visual schedules. You name it, we’ve done it. I’ve laminated more workbook pages then I could have ever imagined. Sometimes Colt would show interest, sometimes he didn’t. Despite feeling discouraged at times, we have remained consistent, hopeful, and tried to trust the process. 

The process has taken some time and has been full of ups and downs. There were times when we didn’t know if everything we were doing made a difference. Three years of speech therapy with almost no words. However, looking back speech therapy led to the use PEC cards. PEC cards lead to an easier transition to an AAC. An AAC lead to curiosity and repetition of words. Curiosity and repetition of words lead to communication through writing, reading and the beginnings verbal functional language use. Language use allowed us to build skills and connections. Each step has led to a different level of progress on Colt’s journey. Each step has built his confidence and trust in himself. Each step has led to building his strength, his courage, his happiness, and confidence.

 So yes, they say a picture is worth a thousand words…..in this case it’s two pictures and the contrast between them.

Ashley McClain
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