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My younger brother has used augmentative communication since he was two years old. For the last three years, he has used a device called a DynaMyte. For a school project, I used only a DynaMyte to speak, for a full week. This is my journal of my experiences.

October 7, 1999

So, my first day with the DynaMyte and I'm ready to throw it out the window. LOL I just can't hit the keys fast enough. Anyway, my partner Lauren and I met with the DynaVox representative at ten this morning. Since then, I've spent 3 hours programming and had 5 experiences, thanks to my friend Kate, who took me out today, since I don't drive. Here we go:

Border's: First guy was very helpful, didn't seem to think twice about the fact that I had the DynaMyte, but he had to lean over my shoulder to read the message window.

Lady at checkout corner wasn't as great. She gave me weird looks. I smiled back very sweetly.

Meijer's grocery store: Cool guy. He was about sixty, and I saw him with an even older guy ahead of Kate and me and figured he would be cool, so I increased communication to hi, thanks, and have a nice day. That doesn't sound like a lot, but it takes time to talk! He responded just like I had communicated typically and even waited patiently while I went to the right page for my words.

McDonald's: Guy sucked. Seriously. I placed my order, stood there. He looked down at the device, back to his keypad, back to the DynaMyte and said, "I didn't even understand that." So I repeated it and showed him that he could read the display. He kept looking at Kate instead of me. Then he asked KATE what kind of sauces I wanted with my chicken nuggets. Sadly she answered, but as I was, too. So, he was the worst.

Then, as I came into the main hall of my dorm, a guy walking past stopped and asked me what I had and thought it was the greatest thing he had ever seen. That was cool.


October 8, 1999

It rained today. I tied a Border's bag around the DynaMyte, wore it on the strap around my neck as usual, and zipped my jacket up over it. Apparently, it gave off a different idea than I thought, and I got asked when the baby was due! Changed jackets as soon as possible.

At the union, I ordered a smoothie and muffin. There were 2 people working, a man about 40 and a woman in college. I gave my order, the man started backing away to make it while the woman moved to ring it up but stopped and said she hadn't understood. The guy told her, "She ordered a number 7 smoothie and muffin! Can't you hear?" which I thought was beyond beyond awesome. <

When I got to English class, my teacher said hi, like always and turned back to the movie he was getting ready. He turned back, rather surprised, when I responded with the DynaMyte, but then asked how I was and waited for me to respond. Which is probably the most communication we've ever had. LOL Although he kept glancing at it during class, he never asked me about it.

After classes on Friday, Lauren and I showed it to some of her friends, who thought it was really cool. After my first day, I added some buttons to my "It's my DynaMyte, it helps me talk" page. I now also have "I can type what I want to say, or program buttons like this one" and "I like to answer questions about my DynaMyte, so feel free to ask." They're helpful. <

Walking back to my room after meeting Lauren's friends, I met some girls from my floor who asked me some questions, and were very interested in the device and project.



October 9, 1999

My best friend Erin drove down for the weekend. After she arrived, we went to Taco Bell. While doing pronunciation exception for "chalupa" a guy and his girlfriend walked over and asked me about the DynaMyte, which I explained. Erin was very good and never responded for me even when the guy looked between us as he asked. (She's used to the device from my brother Josh, anyway. He's had his own DynaMyte for two years now.) He thought it was just wonderful. I could see the cashier guy looking at the DynaMyte but he did pretty well. He had a hard time understanding it at first, but never looked to Erin for a translation, which was cool. When I thanked the other guy as he gave me my bag of food, he didn't even bat an eye.

Then Erin and I went shopping, where there was little communication with anyone that wasn't her. No one looked at us when I would call "Erin" when I wanted her opinion on a shirt, though. LOL

Then we went to Burger King. (We were hungry, okay? LOL) Ordered my chicken sandwich and shake with ease, cashier understood everything, no real problems.

Then we locked the device in my closet while we went to the Goo Goo Dolls concert. We thought it would be safer there.

October 10, 1999

No communication, because Erin and I were exhausted after the concert. I told her about the pregnancy question I had received, and she laughed. She commented that since I was carrying so low, it must be a boy. I agreed and named him William.

October 11, 1999

Went to a different place for breakfast, ordered drink and fruit. Lady told me that they were out, I ordered something else. Only thing that really bugged me was her annoying little smile as she said they were out. But other than that, we're cool.

Went to English to turn in my paper, and realized that I had never programmed "You're welcome" after I went to say that to my teacher. Also realized that my volume was much too high after I sat down to program it, hit the wrong button and couldn't stop it from talking. So I had to apologize for my voice talking when I didn't want it to, and then move to quickly turn it down. LOL

After classes, Lauren and I went around to some dorms to talk with people. Lauren had so much fun, although got frustrated that she kept hitting clear instead of backspace. All positive experiences, very cool.

October 12, 1999

More of the same here. I can't talk in German class because the device only speaks English and Spanish. So, I write my answers when I can and just sit there for the most part. I tried talking to my teacher about ways I could participate before I got the DynaMyte, but nothing ever happened.

October 13, 1999

Went to order a sandwich and soda today. The girl at the counter wasn't that bad, I guess. I told her my order, and she had a question because she had missed the size of my drink. I cleared my screen and went to tell her small, but she stopped me and started pantomiming with large gestures, telling me to let her know when she had hit my size. It would have been SO much easier to just type "sm" and let the word predictor come up with small to tell her. It really annoyed me, but what was I going to do? There was a line behind me and I didn't want to take five minutes to type something to yell at her.

October 14, 1999

William's last day. The week went by really fast, and it really was not as hard as I thought it was going to be. I found myself oversimplifying things (saying "like song" instead of "I like this song," etc.), but rarely to the point that people had no idea what I was trying to say. The biggest challenge today was getting the device mailed off. After driving to two different places that were supposed to have Fed-Ex drop-offs, we followed a Fed-Ex truck and asked for directions to the headquarters, getting there ten minutes before they closed.

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