Josh’s Mom here. For right now, Josh is still non-verbal but…well I don’t want to get ahead of myself. I sat down this morning with Josh and helped him write out his top 4 goals for 2014. He got very excited that I asked him such a question and it occurs to me that when a person is non-verbal it’s very easy to slide over questions that require more than a yes-no answer. How frustrating that must be. And it brings up Josh’s #1 goal for the 2014 year.
1. He wants a communication device that will let him be heard.
In November 2013, he tried out the Dynavox. He used eye gaze software and made his choices by a method they call ‘dwell’. When he looks at what he wants, he holds his eyes on it and after a certain amount of time the computer chooses it for him.
This sounds really simple but I tried the system and found out it’s not as easy as it looks. Josh actually got better results than I did. I can only assume its because Josh has spent his life using his eyes to communicate. Its just that now there is a computer sophisticated enough to speak.
Next up, and coming soon, is the Tobii. Once he gives this system a try he’ll make his choice. And his world will change. He will have a voice and by the end of the year he will be heard.
2. Josh’s next goal is to paint.
He’s moved from watercolor to acrylics. I don’t see that changing. He loves the brilliant colors and the ability to paint over things he doesn’t like.
He’s continuing to move toward painting more independently. in 2013 he had a wrist splint made and a brush holder giving him a stronger, more reliable grip on the paint brush. This year, we’re working toward getting a sling support for his arm so I will no longer have to hold his arm. His desire to be more independent takes us to goal number…
3. Josh wants to continue to exercise to increase strength, decrease involuntary reflexes and get closer to controlling his body more effectively.
To see Josh work toward this goal humbles me on a weekly basis. He exercises with joy. He works incredibly hard. Its often frustrating when his mind tells him what to do and his body doesn’t listen. But he perseveres. He never gives up. He tries, and tries, and then tries some more. I am in awe of Josh’s physical goals.
4. Last, Josh wants to learn how to access the internet. He wants to write. To be heard. To be in touch with the people he loves. He wants to be able to send words to the printer. For the first time, he has the possibility of a career if he chooses to go after it. The computer is literally going to change Josh’s life.
I can’t wait to see what 2014 brings. It’s completely, totally awesome.