We finished the trial with the NovaChat 7 last month…I think. The days all blur together. We had it for a month, but it was pretty clear early on that it probably was not going to work for Evie. We hoped we could make some changes, but we couldn’t fix the main problem: Evie couldn’t understand the device.
Evie has been making it more and more clear that, although she hears most things, she struggles with distinguishing between words that sound similar. She’ll sign “potty” if she hears us say “naughty” (usually to big sister. *ahem*), “pear” when we say “hair” or “blocks” when she hears “socks”. She’s clearly catching most words, but not all. The computerized voice of the device was difficult for me to understand, so it was no wonder that Evie struggled. The only option then was to teach her through sign what each picture/button meant which seemed to just be adding an unnecessary middle man. Evie enjoyed playing with it and pushing the buttons to make noise, but that was about it.
I think we learned a lot through this experience, though. I’m glad we tried it. We learned more about Evie’s hearing and that when she is able to read, if she is still unable to vocalize, it may be a good option for her. For now, I think this confirmed for us that Cued Speech is the right approach for Evie. Since it basically works as a lip reading supplement, it will help her distinguish between those words that sound similar and look similar on the lips. We’ve been cueing a bit to her already and she’s been trying to mimic the hand motions, though we’ll still encourage her ASL signs as well so that she can communicate her wants and needs effectively even as she’s still learning CS.
We actually had our first Cued Speech lesson as well which was helpful in getting us started. The great thing about CS is that once you learn the system, you can cue anything and it’s all about practice, practice, practice.
Overall, I think after these last few months, we feel like we have a better grasp of Evie’s needs for her hearing and communication. We’re still waiting for her BAHA (bone conductive hearing aid) and hopefully that will help her even more. Plus, our trip to Cincinnati and all the testing done will give us a better picture for her future.
And for your amusement and education, here’s an awesome video depicting in a funny way, the limitations of these communication devices.