A year after starting Courtney on her current talker we started seeing some significant regression in her use of it. The few two word utterances she was using went back to just 1 word, she was needing more prompting to use it and needed a significant amount of modeling before she learned where a picture was. At that time all icons were showing on her talker.
I remember the evening well where her private speech therapist recommended that we do what is called masking on her talker. Masking is when you hide some of the icons so it is less visually overwhelming and easier for her to find the icons she uses the most. As a teacher of children who uses communications, I knew this was moving backwards. I was devastated. I even sent her therapist a text after the session expressing how devastated I was and felt like I was a failing her. Felt it was all my fault. He immediately called me back to assure me I was not a failure. He also reminded me that it was likely because of all of the major gut issues she was having at that time.
Fast forward more than 2 years later. After 2 years of both home team and school teams working very hard with her, she has not only regained all that she lost during that regression but also has grown leaps and bounds with her talker. Gains I wasn’t sure 2 years ago if we would ever see.
At parent/teacher conferences last week, Courtney’s school team gave a little nudge and mentioned that they think she may be ready for her system to be unmasked. Meaning all icons be available to her again. I talked it over with her private therapist since he has been on this journey with the talker with us the longest and he agreed, it was time to try it out. So this week we made the big step and gave her access to so many more words. A day into it and so far no signs of it rocking her world.
There is nothing more beautiful than watching a non-verbal child find the power of words. The mountain is still steep but she is climbing it in ways I never imagined!