But today, I want to share about just one of them. One of them that took something awful, and turned it into something beautiful. A mere hour after making this post to my blog, I received this message in the comments:
I'm so sorry that this happened to you and Ayden. It's horrible and awful that someone would abuse his child's disability to scam other parents who need this kind of technology to help their children.
Ayden will be receiving his very own ipad in the mail in less than two weeks. He deserves this. He's such a sweet little boy and even though I've only met him twice I know how much this will help him and really make his day. I'll forward you the shipping details as soon as I have them, but as of right now Apple's saying July 21-25.
Wednesday, we received Ayden's iPad in the mail. It was packaged in a brown box, that enclosed the actual iPad box. As I was opening the box, both of the boys were by my side. They love packages, so it wasn't surprising. As I pulled the iPad box out, Ayden began squealing in delight and saying "birds, birds, birds" over and over again complete with jumping around and flapping his hands. He couldn't even slow down to help take the iPad out of the box! It took about 15-20 minutes to hook it up to my computer, get registered, and of course put Angry Birds on. For the entirety of the time I was doing this, Ayden was standing next to me squealing and flapping away. (if you know Ayden, you can picture exactly what he was doing - just about 10 times faster and louder than normal). He was allowed to "free play" for quite a while since it was new for him, but still burst into uncontrollable sobbing, whining, and screaming after we told him time was up. I put the iPad on the charger and every time I walked close to it for the rest of the day he would run up behind me excited again - only to flail and sob some more when I walked by it instead of handing it to him. He was being a pretty big monster, but I only tell you this so you can begin to understand how much he loves his iPad.
After Ayden went to bed, I was able to get the app Grace setup for PECS. It's not the app we want to use for him, but we received this one for free on Autism Awareness Day and the best one (Proloque2go) has a pretty steep price tag of $189. For now, this will work. It is missing a few features I would like, most importantly speaking the sentence or words when and after they are chosen. That reinforcement is pretty key, especially for Ayden, and Grace lacks any kind of audio.
I had my first chance to start working with Ayden on Grace the next morning. He very much is against it right now because he just wants to play his games! I taught him how to ask for Angry Birds on the iPad, and then he got to play for a bit - we then did it again and followed this pattern for a while. He's starting to get it, but it will take some time. Meanwhile, he gets to work on those fine motor skills and turn taking with puzzles and memory games. When I let him "free play" again, he started exploring all the other apps I have setup for him, so hopefully he starts using it for more than just Angry Birds (or killing Zombies) during his free time. Twenty-four hours after putting it in his hands for the first time, he has already completed some small sentences and is continually working on using his finger instead of his thumb. It is so amazing the improvements in such a small amount of time. I can't wait to see how much better he gets going forward, and for that - there is only one person to thank.
And for you, Wendy....I don't know if I can ever really explain how much this means to me, but thank you so much again. I have told you this before, but want to say it publicly as well. You are quite possibly one of the most unselfish, giving people I have ever known and I have no idea how I can every convey my gratitude to you. I love that you are so generous and willing to help and I am so thankful that you even thought to do this. Anyone that cares so much about Ayden has and will always have a very special place in my heart. Every rude look, every person staring as Ayden has a public meltdown, every bit of unsolicited advice - those things make the people that support us and him so much more important. It's you and others like you that help me make it through bad days. It;s knowing we have the support and love of so many amazing people like yourself that makes me confident we can overcome any obstacle that is put in front of us.
Here are some of the pictures I took of Ayden after I put his iPad in his hands for the first time. Unfortunately none of them show the level of excitement he actually had because he was much too busy concentrating on playing Angry Birds.