Wednesday, February 22, 2012

A bit of sunshine

Cute, cute, cute!!!!!
We've had a trial of the Tobii eye gaze system since Christmas and it's now time to return it.  We are hoping to trial the Eco II eye gaze system soon and then decide which system to order after the trials.  I have to say that I LOVE the Tobii eye gaze system and am excited that Eco uses the same technology (I believe they licensed it from Tobii?) so I'm really interested to see the differences between the systems in action.

Emma does pretty good with the Tobii.  The eye gaze detection is really forgiving of her changes in neck control.  She is pretty accurate on selecting items when she wants to communicate.  We found that making the interaction a fun exercise rather than a teaching exercise greatly improved Emma's interest in using the device.  For example, asking her to tell us what color she wants to use in her art activity she ignores us.  Asking Emma to have the mouse knock over a horse and she can't get enough of using the device.  Her team agrees that she is cognitively able to understand our request to tell us the color but that she chooses not to comply because she just doesn't want to rather than she is not capable.

Emma has mostly been using the device at school but we have taken it home on several weekends.  Since Emma has off this week and we were at the end of the trial we decided to bring the device home and get another 5 days of use before the return date.  Her SLP programmed a screen with a photo of me and a photo of Emma to do some turn taking activities.  She did this right before she sent the device home so Emma had not seen it before.  When I opened it Emma immediately loved this screen!  She kept selecting my photo over and over and over and over again and looking at me each time she selected it.  It was like she was so happy to finally be able to say my name!  My heart melted......

We used this screen to play some games.  Emma liked the game where she chose who should knock over a stack of blocks.  She mostly asked me to do it, but did decide to do it herself every now and again.  Here is a video I took of her using this screen.

The video was hard to shoot while interacting with Emma in the activity and getting Emma to ignore the fact that her photo was being taken.  This child LOVES getting her photo taken and will stop all activities to ham it up for the camera.  What I like about the video is it shows that she knows how to use the device.  She is very deliberate in her choices.  She keeps her eye gaze on the square she wants to select for the appropriate amount of time mostly on her first try.  Sometimes she needs to try again and when that happens she does try again until it speaks her selection.  Her attention is still pretty short and is likely a mix of her age and that using eye gaze to communicate is fairly tiring.  Finnegan was to her right so she kept looking at her to knock them down, too - Finnegan usually knocks the blocks over when we play with them on the floor.  I have also noticed that during the device trial she started to "talk" more.  You can see this in the video at about 2:25 in, it sounds like she is saying "you" when the screen didn't pick up her eye gaze at me.  I had her too close to the screen - I moved her in to knock over the blocks and forgot to move her back - for it to detect her eyes and when I figured that out and moved her back she was able to select my photo.

I'm thrilled with the team that is working with us to give Emma a voice.  They are amazing!  And I'm thrilled with how well Emma is doing with the device after only 8 weeks.  I'm not sure what is the ideal communication method for Emma yet but I see so much potential and promise in her future.  For now that is enough.

2 Comments from readers:

The Bynums said...

So thrilling to see Kristina! Emma is the smartest little thing and so beautiful! We are starting down this journey of giving Tessa a voice, and I can't tell you how encouraging it is to see Miss Emma working so hard and the progress she is making. We are cheering her on with you!

Anonymous said...

That's REALLY REALLY COOL! I love it, and that she's doing so well after just a matter of weeks is so encouraging and exciting!