Janey's crying was less today, but this afternoon started to return. One thing we always worry is that Janey hurts physically someplace---that she has a headache or a stomach ache. We were trying to ask her that, which she sometimes answers. We've asked it by asking her "Do you need hurty medicine?" (meaning Tylenol) which she will answer. Today, though, she was screaming so much that she couldn't answer, and I was hugely frustrated, thinking that there should be a simple way for her to just push a button to say yes or no. I got on the app store looking for such a thing. I looked briefly at hugely expensive speech apps, knowing I couldn't afford them and certainly couldn't learn them in a few minutes. Then I found this app
Answers: YesNo HD
It was $3.99, and it looked very easy and like it would do what I wanted---just bring up a Yes/No screen. I bought it in a frenzy, opened it and found the default setting was indeed just a yes/no answer. I went back to Janey, asked her if she needed hurty medication, and showed her the screen, quickly hitting yes and no to show her how it worked. She immediately hit the "No" button. I then asked her a few other questions to see what she'd do, like did she want a hug, did she want bacon (which Tony was in the middle of making), etc, and she answered "yes". I asked the hurty medicine again, and she said, again, "no". So we had our answer!
It always feels weird to me to use software like that when Janey CAN talk. But she can talk in certain contexts, and she also seems to have a very hard time with "no"---she answers yes or nothing at all. I often find myself holding out two fists, labeled one "yes" as I wiggle it and then the other "no" as I wiggle it, and letting her pick a fist. That seems to work for her. I could still do that, but this seems like a more independent way for her to talk.
Looking at the software a little more, I saw you can make other easy choices available. I quickly took pictures of Tony and of me, and gave her a "Mama/Daddy" choice button. Just now, she said she wanted to cuddle. We usually assume that is with me, but we gave her the choice and she picked Daddy, so that is what they are doing.
Janey's teacher this year and her ABA specialist are going to work on augmented communication, and I am very excited about that. I think it might be a huge help to Janey, and something that might ease her frustration. She is still crying today, but for about 10 minutes after first using the Yes/No, she was quiet and happy. I'm going to try to add some more choices soon. Even if it only helps for little bits of time, that's better than anything I tried yesterday.