Almost all of Schuyler’s use of assistive technology is focused on her communication with the neurotypical world, which is obviously as it should be. She’s been having a great deal of success, too, and is getting fewer and fewer weird looks when she orders at restaurants, etc. After all these years, it’s becoming easier to imagine her doing this on her own. And that’s exciting.
Every now and then, Schuyler has the chance to connect with another AAC user. It doesn’t happen as frequently as it once did, and certainly not as often as she would like. She doesn’t have many classmates using AAC devices at school now; I think she might actually be the only one in her particular classes. She no longer has her tribe, which I suppose is as expected. She was always going to be an outlier. But when she finds herself with another user, she falls into a comfort zone that I can’t even begin to understand in a meaningful way.
It happened over the weekend, when she had her first Miracle League baseball game of the season. Schuyler’s oldest friend from her original AAC class is on her team, something that hasn’t happened for a very long time. They’ve gone to different schools and have developed in very different ways over the years, and even though they’re now at the same school again, they apparently don’t see each other very often. So this is a nice development.
All of this isn’t that important. It’s all just prelude to the photo that I took after the game as they both pulled out their devices and figured out where they wanted to go to lunch. When they start talking, Schuyler and her friend don’t use their devices the same way they do with others. They don’t make the devices speak out loud, and they don’t limit themselves to their own screens. They share, back and forth, and they shut out the world. Most of all, they dispense with any of the hesitation and self-consciousness that they experience when making their way in the larger world.
It the simplest interaction imaginable, and now it’s one of my favorite photos in a very long time.
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