AAC vs. My Own Voice

Sometimes I often assume that people who work people who have disabilities automatically will understand me. My assumption is farther than the truth and I am ashamed that I assumed this. I quickly realize they don’t understand me from their factual expressions, their blank stares. I feel like an idiot so I immediately start using my communication device. Although with my caregivers, I will use my communication device when they first start, but after a week or two them to begin understanding my speech. So, I will start spelling words so they began understanding my speech patterns. Slowly but surely they pick up my speech and they can understand everything I am saying.  They can serve as my interpreter when people can’t understand me.  This doesn’t mean I don’t need to use my communication device, but when I am trying to communicate quickly my attendant serve as a great interpreter.

I mainly use my communication device when I speak to a large audience. I am not speaking face to face to them so I can’t tell if they are understanding me or not. I wonder what it would be like if I gave a fifteen minutes speech using my own voice.  I think it would be a total disaster.  People would be whispering, “What did she say?” Laughing at odd moments, totally awful.

I had a similar experience happened to me when I was giving a speech to large audience (about 500 people) to receive an award for my achievement using assistive technologies. I had prepared a speech in my communication device so I thought. I actually had almost a whole week to work on it  because I was off of work due to ice storm. I worked for a school district and they called off school for four days.  I thought to myself, “I needed this otherwise I didn’t know when I would get my speech written.” I remember having difficulties writing my speech because I wanted it to be prefect. So, I guess I had three different copies but I was sure I had the right copy in my communication device.   I rechecked it like four times.

The day of presentation I barely got there in enough time to take my spot in the panel.  There were multiple people who were being recognized for excellence of overcoming their disabilities with the use of assistive technology. When it was my turn to speak I pressed the button on my communication device to make it talk. It went smooth until it got to the end of the fourth sentences and it quit speaking because nothing else was there. I panicked for a second and said “oops, I the rest of speech must be on another flash drive, one second please” motioning to my friend who was audience to come up and bring my flash drive bag. Oh, which one was it? I tried another flash drive but it was not on right one either! Took a deep breath and I spontaneously started talking to with my communication device. Afterwards I just wanted to go to my room, I was so embarrassed. My friends said I did a great job at recovering myself. To my surprise, I was the talk of the conference in a good way. People were astonished how well I could spontaneously communicate with my device.





Aqua Therapy

Throughout my life I had physical therapy which has made a huge difference in my abilities. When I’m not doing therapy my balance, posture, and overall control goes downhill. It effects how much assistance I need with my transfers.  I love when my attendants say, “Wow, I hardly had to do anything to transfer you.” For the past two years, I haven’t any therapy and I could tell my coordination and balance wasn’t what it should be.

Through my Medicaid waiver program, I can receive physical therapy, occupational therapy, aqua therapy, etc. I have had physical therapist but unfortunately my physical therapist had to retired.  I couldn’t find another physical therapist so I decided to try aqua therapy. I didn’t really know what to expect but it was in the pool and I loved the water. It took a while to get It going due to locating a facility with a pool that would allow an aqua therapist to work in. it was crazy because I was a member to the YMCA, but the one closest to our house wouldn’t let an aqua therapist their facility. We finally discovered another YMCA that would let aqua therapist practice there. Thank god!

Aqua therapy is amazing. I can do “normal” exercises that people do outside of the water. I jump, do all kinds of leg stretches and arm movements. It is incredible to feel my body do things I didn’t think it could do. The buoyancy of the water takes off the weight of your body which me as light as feather.   Now I am not saying it is work, it takes a lot of coordination for my brain to tell my legs and arms to move at the same time, it is an intense work out. I can feel the burn for days after. I only have aqua therapy once a week, I wish it was twice!