If you missed it, my son Finn has no functional use of spoken language. He can say “yeah,” “bahyaya” (banana), “baba” (Papa), and a couple of other sounds if he concentrates really, really hard. And truly, his “b” is more like a hard “v” sound. But for the most part he’s used signs and grunts to communicate his wants and needs. (Yes, his hearing is fine, and he understands speech. It’s an oral motor problem.)
Last summer, his mom and I decided to purchase for him an iPod Touch and an AAC app called ProLoQuo2Go. This app costs $189.99 in the iTunes Store, but is significantly more affordable than an actual AAC device. He’s learning to use it within certain contexts, but it’s clumsy and limited in its use in daily, natural communication.
Anyway, we were encouraging him to use it more at home and explore the menus independently, etc. Well, Finn has the mental age of about a three-year-old kid, and he likes to push buttons (tap icons). And left to his own devices for about half an hour, he managed to somehow reset his iPod. Or something. I didn’t see it until later, but apparently this $200 (after tax) software was gone. The password protect feature was also activated.
I finally figured that perhaps I had set a pass code just in case I didn’t want him messing with it at certain times. So I punched it in, and voila: it was unlocked. Unfortunately, the damage had been done. The iPod needed to be synced and the app was gone. Even more unfortunate was the fact that shortly after I purchased the app last summer, my computer contracted a virus (*whore*) and I ended up wiping it clean.
So last night I try logging in to iTunes to see if I can download it again. Forgot my password. Reset password. Log in. Click to buy app. Enter password again. “Are you sure you want to buy and download ‘ProLoQuo2Go?'” Not really… Click “Buy” button anyway. “We could not complete your iTunes Store request. There is not enough memory available.” Hmm? Install updates to iTunes. Restart computer. Try again. “We could not complete your iTunes Store request…” Run disk clean-up utility. Try again. “We could not…” OK.
After tinkering around for an hour or so and having nothing to show for myself, I decided to give up for the night. I used the “Report a problem” link to see if I can somehow get this app back since $200 is a bit much to stomach on my income. There are other, less expensive apps, but I can’t download those, either. (Maybe it’s a firewall issue…?)
What really sucks is that this software is written into Finn’s IEP, so now he can’t actually work on his goals with his SLP at school. Maybe they can download it there. It seems like they’d want to have it anyway. Dunno.
This is really central to my hesitation with using an AAC device. They’re not very practical, and shit happens. Software malfunctions or gets deleted altogether. Hardware breaks… You know, it kills me that so many parents take for granted the fact that their kid just magically learns to talk. They’ll never have to deal with hardware and software and countless hours of speech therapy and communication training, not to mention the heartache and frustration that goes along with it.
But, I sing bedtime songs with Finn every night, and he’s starting to vocalize more and more. None of it is speech, but it’s something. Now age 7, he’ll probably never develop any kind of recognizable speech, but I can keep working with him. And I can’t tell you how much joy it brings me just to hear him vocalize in his seemingly tone-deaf voice (I don’t think he’s actually tone deaf, he just doesn’t have precise control over his vocal chords) while I sing bedtime songs with him. I’m just tired of trying to teach him how to use crap to do things for him, only to have it break down. But I suppose I can’t be there to translate for him his entire life. He’ll need to develop some independence. I just don’t know what the answer is.
What I do know is that Apple can suck it. An egg. Apple can go suck an egg.
Frustration from the bungalow,
P.S. On the plus side, things could be much more difficult for Finn. I know of parents who’ve had to fight with insurance companies literally for years to get necessary equipment like motorized wheelchairs for their kids. Also, I was able to re-download the app at work. Now if only I had thought to bring his iPod with me… Curses! Oh, hey! Be sure to “Like” From the Bungalow on Facebook! 🙂