The Center for AAC and Autism

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Learning What Max 'Wants'

"When Max got his talker - which allows him to press buttons with letters and images on them that then 'speak' for him - it was a godsend. He could tell us he was hungry. He could say, 'I want to eat,' or 'I want to drink' - and not just drink, but 'drink chocolate milk.'

"In the beginning it was 'I want, I want, I want' for the most part, and that was just wonderful. But then Max started getting frustrated with that because it was limited, and he started figuring out how to use it to do other things. He would practice with it," his mother says.

Theresa joyfully recalls the day Max first used his talker to tell her he was aware of his surroundings. "We drove past a fence and without prompting, all of a sudden the talker said 'fence,' and I said, 'You're right Max. That is a fence.' We went home and I programmed the talker with brick fence, wood fence, chain link fence, every kind of fence there is. That's part of it, predicting what he might say and programming the device.

Max gets his teacher's attention and expresses his concerns about the trees that were blown down on the golf course. Except Max uses the word "horse" as it sounds like "course." The teacher programs "course" into device later.

Max Reading

"Then, on the way to school, there is a fence with a star on it and he began building on what he was communicating. He said 'star fence' and I was able to say, 'Yes, there is a star on that fence.'"

Theresa says one of the first full sentences Max constructed on his talker happened after a storm. "We drove past the golf course and he said, 'tree fall down golf course.' At the time, he said 'horse' instead of 'course' but it showed he was finding his language," she explains.