We Speak PODD!
I never imagine this life for myself. It never once crossed my mind that I would one day be a wife and mother to six children, four diagnosed with complex developmental, medical and communication needs. We are a family of eight. Our five living children range in age from 11 to 5. We lost our first biological son, Gavin, at the age of 3, almost seven years ago.
It was after his death that Adam and I chose to grow our family through adoption. It was because of the skills we gained taking care of our sweet Gavin, who was diagnosed with a terminal degenerative disease, that we decided to adopt four children with significant needs.
We believe that every child deserves a home, that every child deserves love and that every child deserves a chance to learn and grow.
We quickly realized that our adopted children, despite their obviously needs, were smart children with amazing potential who deserved the chance to learn what every other child had the chance to learn. After relocating across country we made the decision to pull our four youngest out of public school and teach them the skills public school was unable to teach. To read, to write and most important -- to communicate.
Communication is a basic human right. Our children are no exception. Their minds are active just like other children their age. They have opinions, dreams and desires.
After many years of searching, we finally found a system that was a perfect fit for our family and for our children's unique needs. My husband and I have worked hard to teach our children to communicate through a robust communication system called PODD (pragmatically organized dynamic display). Each child accesses their communication system in a different way according to their strengths/limitations. Two of our children, Jayden and Harper can use their finger to point to their PODD book, indicating what they want to say. Our one daughter, Angela, uses a communication partner who scans each page for her and she uses and a yes/no head nod to make her selections. Our oldest son Siah uses a combination of partner scanning and high tech eye gaze, a computer device that reads his pupils and once he maintains gaze for a preset time it makes his selection activating the device to speak the word or sentence.
Communication is for everyone. No child is to "anything" to not be able to communicate in some way. It's takes a lot of time, a lot of patience, a lot of perseverance and a huge amount of hope.
Communication is a gift. What an amazing gift for us to be able to hear the thoughts in their minds. Our children have so much to say. All they need the right tools and people willing to believe in them -- people willing to listen.