Everyday conversations and shortcuts

We might not think about how often we use shortcuts for everyday conversations. If you use an Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) device like I do, you might streamline what you want to say. For non-AAC users, it is like texting. You know what you want to say, but you know there is only a few seconds and then the other person has to go or might start finishing what you want to say for you. So, you do what you can to get what you want to say, said as quickly as possible. For me, that means using the fewest number of keystrokes, because keystrokes for me suck up a lot of time and energy.

An example would be “I’m going 2 take pins & casts out mon.” This is true that I am getting my casts off and taking my pins out tomorrow (YAY!).

It is easier to use shortcuts and takes less time even though it’s not a grammatically correct sentence. When I use my Accent 1400 communication device, I use pre-programmed pages for quick common words and then switch to the keyboard spelling page where I can start typing a word and hope that it pops up in the word prediction choices so I don’t have to select every letter in the word. When those choices don’t pop up though, I use shortcuts.

Accent 1400 communication device showing "I can't believe you" typed out

I think sometimes it gets confusing when using a communication device or learning to use a device to know when it’s okay to use shortcuts and when you have to try to type out complete proper sentences. If you’re writing a paper or presentation, you may need to be more formal. For everyday conversations, though, I need to share my ideas as fast as possible, because I find that people aren’t always very patient. So, then I use shortcuts.

My top tips for talking to someone who uses AAC

My top tips for speaking to someone like me who uses a communication device?

  • Wait for me to type. Don’t keep talking while I’m focusing on typing what I’m saying next, because I can’t listen to you and type at the same time.
  • Talk to me and not my helper. This happens. People ask my parents or helpers a question about me and I’m sitting right there!
  • Don’t NOT talk to me because you’re nervous about talking to someone with a disability who uses a communication device. I want to connect, share ideas, and talk with you.  I apologize for the double negative!

YouTube Playlist of me doing stuff

I put some videos of me on my YouTube playlist so you can get a feel for why my Cerebral Palsy and uncontrolled movement make shortcuts necessary.

Another typical week

Just a reminder – my typical weeks are why we need to protect Medicaid and make sure we have access to good, affordable healthcare!

Speech therapy on Tuesday. Communication device fell off my chair but fortunately seems to be working just fine. My speech therapist made some brilliant changes so that I can’t accidentally hit the speak bar when selecting a word-prediction choice. And, I can more easily program my own buttons now on my Quick Stuff page. Watch out world!

Also, got my thigh strap contraption repaired while I was speech appointing. It broke last week.

Appointment with my complex movement team doctors on Thursday. Trying some new Deep Brain Stimulation settings. 4.5 volts seemed to be too high and ended up making my movement even weirder so went back to 4.0 volts. In a couple weeks, dad will sneakily without my knowing switch to a 3rd new setting that turns on 2 different leads that are deep in my brain. One of the coolest things, was that my neurologist did a “software update” on my stimulator implanted in my chest and now the stimulator should last for another decade before having to be replaced. We had thought that it would need replacement after 7 years which would have been in about another 4 years. The fewer surgeries the better since I have had issues with staph infections. The grand experiment of Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) continues.

Friday night was Dead Pool 2 night while charging my DBS. It takes about 1-2 movies a week to charge my DBS.

Upcoming surgery on November 9th to remove my lower braces – and an out-of-whack lower tooth. YAY!!!!!!!

Had an awesome end of the week when I went door-knocking for Ami Wazlawik who is running for MN State House Representative for 38B. She’s awesome! Made my dad come along and help out this time!Back of man and Justin in his wheelchair walking down street

(P.S. I’m actually at my pre-op physical when this is being posted on my blog. The magic of scheduling blog posts on WordPress!)