Micah's Voice showed up on our doorstep yesterday morning, an hour before I had to leave for speech therapy. Sam is working evenings this week so he was here to share in the joy. You'd have thought Ed McMahon himself was standing there with an over sized check and helium balloons, we were that giddy.
I called Mr. PR immediately, as the note said to do. (I've changed his name. It's short for Prentke Romich. I should really ask him if he minds if I use his name because that would make things easier. But in the meantime, it is what it is.) He gave me his cell phone number so that I didn't have to get routed through the company and wait until they tracked him down, or leave a voice mail message. I love this company, they make things so easy for the consumer.
Mr. PR gave me over 30 minutes of his time walking me through some basics, and assuring me that we could not break it. Please play with it, please use it and get to know it. We cannot break it. He really wanted me to know that, and it was rather reassuring since our home gets busy on occasion. Ahem.
And then I packed it in my purse and took it in to give to Micah for the day. His little face lit up like the Griswold's house at the holiday season when he saw it. I asked him if he wanted to go eat. (This is a rather rhetoric question with Micah. He's a good eater, according to every evaluation done by every teacher he's ever had.) He started growling like he does when he's upset, and stopped himself short. I then heard NO. It was a rather coincidental random key, but I had to wonder if he did it on purpose or not.
He continued to play with buttons and I heard all sorts of things. The last thing I heard before he laid it on the seat was HURT STOMACH. He must have gotten frustrated when he couldn't find something to eat on it and put it down. But no worries. He'll have a lifetime to play with it, so he doesn't need to learn it all in the first 5 minutes. Besides, we had to scarf down lunch before speech therapy.
I showed it to the therapist who was as enamored as a techie given the newest gadget. Her job is to teach kids to talk, so she doesn't work with AAC devices. But oh, she was so interested. She took it back to the session with her. She handed it to me when they were done and said he wasn't much interested in it. I was a bit disappointed, but again I had to remind myself that he doesn't yet know the impact it'll have on his life. He's only had it for an hour, after all.
In the van I realized that the screen was glowing white, but no buttons were lit up. It wouldn't turn off, and it wouldn't turn on. I had the thing 2 hours total and it was broken. GAH! Prentke Romich will regret their decision to help a desperate mom very quickly. They'll probably ask for it back.
When I got home, I called Mr. PR. He said, "I've never had this happen before in all the years I've dealt with them." (How's that for "I sure made a mistake in giving it to you?") I apologized profusely, but in reality it didn't happen under my care so I couldn't even tell him what had caused it. But you know what that angel disguised as Mr. PR did? In less than 5 minutes he helped me fix it. And then? He apologized profusely. I was taken aback - I broke the thing and he's apologizing? He said this was not normal for the product, he's never seen it happen before, we did not break it, and it was okay.
How's that for customer service? I love Prentke Romich, and Mr. PR.
So after we got it working again I spent the afternoon reprogramming it because I read the book and it showed me how. But then I realized that I chose too few keys and spent the evening re-reprogramming it. And that ate up the batteries because they were low to begin with so I charged it overnight. While it was charging, I stood at the counter until 1:00 AM and personalized it for him.
At 3:00 AM Micah woke up fussing, which is highly unusual for him. He and I were up for hours until he finally puked in the sewing room at 6AM. (Well what else was I supposed to do in the middle of the night?) Thankfully it was on a blanket that I spread for him and was easy to clean up, but by the time I got laundry taken care of it was time for the other kids to get up for school. There's a fun start to any day.
I also had much time to contemplate in the early morning hours about the random, frustrating buttons Micah pushed yesterday. You know, the HURT STOMACH. I'd love to believe that he didn't feel well then and was telling me so, but one cannot believe in that kind of miracles this quickly. Although I'm letting that miracle simmer on the back burner because what else are miracles other than miraculous?
The good news is that Micah promptly fell asleep after being sick and slept until 9:30. And he should have gone to school because there was not a thing wrong with the boy the rest of the day. Kinda weird, but there it is. He was thrilled to be presented with his Voice this morning upon waking, and immediately pressed HI, then walked away. I know this was on purpose because as soon as he sees me in the morning he holds up his hand and says IIIII.
He seemed to be kinda tired of dealing with the Voice by mid afternoon so I put it up on the counter and ignored it for a while. I was a bit disappointed by this because of course I had visions of him taking the thing in his arms and dancing with it through sunny fields of flowers in slow motion, twirling it around and around like the reunion of a long lost love. So much for that grandiose dream. But it was rather far fetched.
My afternoon was kinda dragging from the disappointment of the shattered field of flowered dreams, so Prentke Romich stepped right up to dance with me. I got another email. It started with "I read your blog." Apparently my blog is garnering a whole lotta attention from the company lately. It went on to say that they would like to link to my blog so that others could read the glowing report I've been giving them (without pay, even!). This is kinda fun, one has to admit. But the second half of the email asked if they could do a story on Micah for their newsletter.
Dude. I feel like a mini celebrity. And yet it's a bit awkward because they're the ones doing all the great things. They're giving me things for free, helping me unbreak things and not yelling at me for breaking it, giving me personal one-on-one customer service, and overall being more than I ever thought a major manufacturer could be. That personal touch speaks volumes, you know? I'm so humbled. They want to put a picture of my boy with his Voice on the front page of their website. I feel kinda like I've just been carried on someones shoulders in the Disney parade. I am not quite sure when my feet will touch the ground again because it's rather surreal. Surely I'm dreaming.
But moving on...
The best part of the day happened at bedtime. I took the Voice upstairs with me to put Micah to sleep so that I could further customize it for him. (It's gonna take a month to program that thing just right. But that's a good thing. There are that many options available. And we can upload our own pictures of family members, places we go, and other things.) But I was not allowed to program it because Micah wanted to navigate around his new digs. He took my finger and pushed every button over and over and over. I am sure he's memorizing what each says. That's the way his mind works. After he went over the main screen several dozen times we moved on to sub screens and he was thrilled beyond measure to find the one with his family member's names. After he pushed Mom, Dad, Becky, Josh, and Luke he seemed to get a bit frustrated. I then realized that I did not have his name on there. (I know it sounds obvious, but I was thinking that he'd use the page to say he wanted *this person* and one doesn't ask for themselves.) Once I added his name, and he pushed it, he was content. Poor kid, he just wanted to belong to our family.
I turned it off because it was past his bedtime and he needed rest. But he turned it back on and wanted to memorize more buttons. This? Is so exciting. Better than the Disney parade feeling even. Because Micah is learning how to talk to us. This is why we persevered for months - to have our son communicate. Oh, the joy! And yet, he needed sleep. I turned it off and set it aside.
Micah reached around me and picked it up again. He tucked it under his arm, rolled over, and fell asleep.
My son has a Voice.
Yeh, I cried again.