Technology is an amazing thing. The fact that my non verbal daughter who does not have the motor skills to accuratly nor easily touch a screen can talk with her eyes just amazes me. Shoot not only can she talk but she can play computer games, Skype, watch You tube videos, text, learn her letters, numbers, colors...ect, she can read books, turn on and off the tv, change the tv channels , play with remote control toys, and I am sure the list goes on.
Technology can also be very frustrating. You see ,before Makenzie can talk with her eyes the camera on the talker has to be calibrated to her eyes. When we got the talker I calibrated it to her eyes but it was a horrible calibration.
In order to calibrate the talker you have to follow a little cartoon animal around the screen. Then the computer spits out a number reading for each eye. Anything over 30 is not good. A good calibration is in the one to ten range. Makenzie had numbers in the 80-150 range. Not so good.
To complicate things Makenzie's talker had to be mounted to her wheelchair. The mount has 3 different joints which are great because they allow for a ton of customization. This is necessary because in order for the talker to work properly it must sit 17-22 inches away from Makenzie's eyes. It also has to be tipped just the right way to get both of her eyes in a little box that sits right in the middle of the screen.
Yesterday I think I must have spent 2 hours screwing and unscrewing the joints try and get it at the right angle to accommodate Makenzie's head tilt and eye position. I am pretty sure I remember some cursing and I finally just gave up after Makenzie erased a halfway decent calibration that wasn't really working very well anyways. Both Makenzie and I were done!
So today we went at it again with a fresh start. Before I began I asked God to give me extra patience because I knew it was going to be needed! I screwed and unscrewed the little joints over and over again. I changed angle after angle to get the right distance and tilt. Makenzie was getting the calibration numbers down but they would not budge out of the high 20's.I finally put the Allen wrench down and we took another break to go to Whole Foods to pick up the meat and grains for Makenzie's formula.
Tonight when it was time for Makenzie to eat dinner I was ready to give it one last shot. Lets just say that after at least 20 minutes of calibrating the worst target she got it! Her left eye calibrated at 5 and her right at 9! Perfection! I am guessing that there was at least 4 hours invested into those two numbers but guess what....... it works sooooooooooooooooooo much better and we should not have to do that again anytime soon!
On that note I have to laugh at the school. Ok...... they are doing an AMAZING job with Makenzie but on the talker front I foresee some issues.
Despite recommendations from several professionals to get a chair mount they have decided to order Makenzie a rolling mount for her talker at school. Why is this so funny you ask.... Well if it took me approximately four hours to get it mounted just right in a stationary place on Makenzie's chair I just have to wonder how much fun it will be to do virtually the same thing every single time they move the rolling mount from place to place. Makenzie's aid will have to carry around a tape measure and re track her eyes each and every time that mount or Makenzie moves an inch. I am also wondering how the rolling mount, the talker, and Makenzie are going to be moved around by one person. Yeah I am laughing.
I have told the school that I will allow them to use Makenzie's talker at school. After today though I am rethinking that offer. I will need to be assured that they know how to use the device, that they will not mess with the settings, and that they understand if this calibration gets messed up that I will CRY serious ugly tears and they will never again see her device. It will not be pretty!
For now though it is working! With some hard work, determination, and patience Makenzie and I got it done as a team. My little girl is AMAZING if I do say do myself!
Believe.... Prayer Works!