Mary is a medically fragile 24-year-old client. She is a significantly physically impaired young lady who spent the better part of last summer in the hospital after suffering a cardiac incident. She is non-verbal and has little to no fine or gross motor control. Mary uses a ChatFusion device to communicate with her nurse caregivers and family. She accesses the device through the use of head mounted switches – one switch steps through the choices while pressing the other switch causes the device to ‘speak’ the selected word or phrase out loud for her.
During my first visit, Mary’s mom informed me that she was not at all tech savvy and really hoped I would be able to update the ChatFusion to offer more functional choices for Mary. (It had not been updated since she was in high school!) I had never worked with this specific brand of augmentative communication unit before, so I searched online for a manual and spent many hours learning how to work the device and make changes to the settings and choice menus. I was genuinely concerned about making ANY changes since I knew this client’s ability to communicate completely relied on this device. I feared if I deleted something by mistake, or broke the device completely, this would leave the client with no means to communicate… No Pressure there LOL!
I started slow – only making small changes to one or two choice tiles. As I continued working with Mary and got more familiar with the device, I started to get excited about the potential it could really have for the client. I started creating communication tiles that would interact with her smart speaker and allow Mary to ask the time, play her favorite music, and get the weather forecast! It was a whole new level of freedom and choice for this client.
Going forward, the family plans to purchase several smart plugs that will work with the smart speaker. I will program tiles on the ChatFusion that will allow Mary to turn on and off several devices including the lights in her room and her TV! Mary was listening while her mom and I recently discussed these ideas and it absolutely made my day when she used her communication device to respond “I appreciate that!”