Joel Smith just reformatted and updated his website. It now has a page on Alternatives to Real-Time Speech. It’s taken from his presentation at Autreat 2005, and much of the information is useful. He also has a download of the communication software he wrote.
I’m encountering an interesting variation on a communication issue he talks about. He talks about a situation where he can speak, but only to talk about certain topics. For other topics, he has to type, and then he’s able to, for instance, talk about toothaches, and emotions, and so forth. He talks about people not always grasping that what he can say in speech is not everything he has to say, since he can speak so grammatically.
I encounter a similar problem, only it starts with typing. I can type in clear, grammatical sentences much of the time. Therefore, people assume that I am saying everything I can say through typing. I’ve even had people tell me, “Well okay so you can type, and you can substitute that for speech, so where’s the communication problem?”
Well… there’s a bunch of stuff I still can’t say through typing. And I have trouble switching between one communication device and another. The stuff I have trouble saying through typing is some of the most immediately concerning stuff, such as “I have to go to the bathroom” or “I am thirsty”. I can sign “toilet” and “water” in sign language, and I can, if presented with a set of symbols, point to “toilet” or “water”, but it’s difficult for me to type things like that while they’re happening, or go and grab the symbols when I need them.
I really need a decent communication system that combines typing and symbols in the same system, and that has the symbols set up in a logical way by someone who knows enough how to do that kind of thing. That means that the things I have the most trouble saying, I could have reminders in symbols (because some of the reason I can’t type certain things is remembering that it’s possible to type them, and then there are other reasons as well), and then symbols for other things for when I’m just having a bad typing day in general.
Which means getting evaluated by a decent communication specialist, one who grasps autistic-style communication problems, and who can try me on a variety of devices. My current keyboard is falling apart and starting to malfunction more and more, so this is getting urgent.