Read My Clips

On the home front, we’ve recently adopted a new-to-us AT, and it took some nudging from me to get hubby to participate.

The most fabulous Assistive Technology (AT) in the world is useless unless it gets implemented.  An AT, for those unfamiliar with the term, is any kind of device that enables one to do the things they need to do.  A crutch is very low-tech AT, and a sip-and-puff control to operate a power chair is high-tech AT.

Being able to acquire a useful AT can be problematic for many people.  There are three common hurdles in this process:  firstly, being able to discover what exists; secondly, being able to give it a suitable “test drive” (oft times there’s a learning curve to a new device, so it’s hard to tell how useful it will actually be until you can try it out under fairly natural conditions, which usually doesn’t mean sitting in someone’s office or showroom); and lastly, there’s the dreaded funding issue.  A lot of ATs fall under the “quality of life” category, rather than the “medically necessary” category, so aren’t covered by insurance (totally ignoring that quality of life improvements frequently have long-term health benefits, including the user needing fewer support services – penny wise and pound foolish, as ever).

For hubby and I, it wasn’t a lack of knowing about or even affording the AT.  Having the AT was a partial issue, owing to the fact that my previous equipment was too old for this rather common function.  Likely no one under the age of 30 would think of texting messages via cell phones as being terribly exotic.  But the fact was that my old mobile could receive, but not send.  Anyone who knows me well will understand that being able to express myself is a major psychosocial need – being able to get messages but not reply just wasn’t going to cut it for me.  Having been around plenty of young adults at college and work, I realized that having that kind of function for myself wouldn’t be a mere cultural habit, but rather an AT.  It was getting time to renew the mobile contract anyway, which allowed me to buy a new cell phone really cheap.  (No camera, no MP3 player, just a phone – but it is green.)

I had one month of free texting before I got charged for such; a common marketing ploy, but also a necessary one from that “learning curve” standpoint.  I found that the actual learning curve itself was short; after two messages I was comfortable with the process.  The challenge, I discovered, was getting hubby on the other end of our figurative tin can and string!  He understood texting from technical and sociological perspectives.  He just didn’t see any need for it personally.  He wanted me to phone him so we could talk.

Now, that really made no sense to me; he’s hard of hearing, and I have auditory processing disorder, where my cognitive processing of what I hear sometimes gets blips, not unlike the way my mobile gets erratic signals in buildings.  You’d think that the usefulness of this bit of technology would be apparent as all get-out.  But his emotional reception was lukewarm; he’s a people-person, and prefers as little technical interface as possible.

Doing phone calls during my summer camp job was difficult for several reasons, including crappy reception inside the building, the lack of free time during lunch (we were getting lunch for our campers), and often the utter volume level – some of the counselors could carry on phone conversations during our typically noisy bus rides, but I couldn’t.  Thus, we weren’t able to dependably call each other up for mundane conversations like, “I’m going to the store after work; do we need anything besides bread?”

There’s more than one way to sell something.  I’d get a voice-mail, and after listening to it two or three times to understand the message, replied back in text.  Text messages have clarity, when-you-can-get-around-to-it convenience of e-mail, but with more of the live-time quality of phoning.  I could receive and reply more easily, with greater privacy, and in more places.  I found there were additional benefits, like being able to share phone numbers or reminders, and having those available in digital memory for later in the day.  That’s a big deal for someone with ADHD!

Soon we were texting messages instead of talking on the phone.  We were actually communicating more information, and doing so more often.  We also found that what the missives may have lacked in warm fuzzy voice tones, they made up for in reduced marital stress.

“Need toilet paper!  Home for dinner?  Love you.”



  1. Lilia said,

    4 February 2012 at 14:17

    I found joy just by Reading to all of your comments and makes me happy to see that I’m not alone. Dear Andrea u r very brave and I admire for being so open about this topic and accepting your disorder.. On the other hand like I said I’m so happy to hear u all speaking about your problems, I just find out that my beautiful princess Izabella has Apd and believe me haven’t stop crying since I heard this I’m going crazy thinking what can I do to help her I feel so helpless.. I wish this would it happen to me instead than her :( she’s only 5 years old and she’s my bundle of joy it breaks my heart cuz is something she has to deal with for the rest of her life.. And thank God is not a terminal disease I guess is something that I’m gonna have to deal with along with her… I’m reading alot to learn more and more about and it.. All your info u have posted on your blog has been of alot of help dear..God bless u and may God continue helping u or copiing with Apd.. My fear is that kids will make fun of her or anything else sometimes kids can be cruel to other. And my Bella is so sensitive and very shy her confidence is not the greatest she already thinks that she’s not smart, don’t want to go to school sometimes cuz she gets frustrated she says kindergarten is very hard mommy. And it breaks my heart to listen to her say this thing specially that she’s so little.. I will continue giving her my 100% support and will try to understand her more as possible… Thanks :) Lily

    • andrea said,

      4 February 2012 at 15:33

      Hello Lilia,
      ‘Tis not really bravery, ’tis life. We all have things we have to cope with; some of us have more of them, or different sorts of things.

      (By the way, Bravery does not mean that you aren’t scared; bravery means that you do what you have to do, even if you are scared. [including being apprehensive or terribly nervous] )

      It is when those things are different and/or many that difficulties are created because one doesn’t find the rest of society so easily works with how you have to work. That’s called “accommodation”, and amazingly, accommodations help more people than just those whom they are initially intended — they make our created world easier to navigate and use.

      Difficulties also arise when other people don’t — or won’t take time — to understand how one’s needs may be different and can’t be bothered to make any allowances for such. That’s called the Social Model of Disability, where part of your disability is not intrinsic (how it affects the way you operate), but how your disability is created or magnified by others’ treatment of you.

      Perhaps you may find this clarifying post encouraging.

      I have no idea what other posts you may or may not have read. Some others on this topic for your consideration:

      At home (and elsewhere) you may find this bit on “Headlining” to be helpful. As a matter of fact, it is something that I dropped from habit and need to practice doing regularly again, both with my students & teaching staff, and with my boyfriend.

      Do you have the closed captions turned on when watching television? (No, I don’t mean for just her; once people get used to them, they’re incredibly helpful for all.)

      A few years ago I had the pleasure of providing the annual Inservice training session for a university’s tutoring department. One of the themes I explored in brief was how tutees, especially those with various learning disabilities, may have processing difficulties. We have to take information in, make sense of it, retrieve information, and then be able to relay information back. Various kinds of learning disabilities interfere with steps in this process, and the interference can happen at more than one step, especially when a person has more than one kind of difficulty. If you have a teacher who is “not getting it”, you may pass along, “How Hard Can It Be?”

      ALDs in the Classroom explains how technical intervention may sometimes be helpful — and the pitfalls that one can encounter, quite unintentionally.

      And just for grins (because humor is important): Sunday Funnies.

      • Lilia said,

        8 February 2012 at 17:04

        Thanks Andrea for your info. This is been very helpful for me to understand this Apd more and can help my baby Bella.. And the closed caption I have not turned them on cuz Bella doen’t know how to read yet… The speech therapist is helping already and her teacher as well …. But I’ll keep in touch to tell u how is Bella is doing.. Good day and thanks …Lily

  2. qw88nb88 said,

    15 December 2007 at 1:55

    I’m not sure about the Blackberry (my hubby also recently got one to use at work — I’m jealous!), as the keyboard is rather small.

    When I had a PalmPilot, I found that the special script to write things with the stylus was rather awkward and laborious. However, that was some years ago, and tech has moved forward — our kid got a clip-on (folding) keyboard to type class notes into a PalmPilot, and that larger keyboard was much easier to use, as well as nicely portable.

    It’s really hard to make blanket recommendations, as everyone is different. Certainly the style of keyboard will make a big difference, so I suggest shopping around and trying different things.

    If your hubby has not done any typing/keyboard classes, this would be a good thing to learn. (I know, learning to touch-type sucks, but it’s usually the one thing everyone’s glad to have done.) He can even do that on a home computer; the Mavis Beacon program is highly rated. Once a person gets comfortable with touch-typing (instead of hunt-and-peck), this removes nearly a whole layer of manual difficulty, allowing one to focus on the message instead of the medium.


  3. Shannon said,

    14 December 2007 at 16:16

    Excellent information. My dh & dd have APD and I’m always looking for a way inside it so I can understand them better and help them out. Such a relief to find such a clearly expressed perspective. I’m thinking DH might be able to use a blackberry at work like Joel mentioned, but I’m not sure it would be practical – he has trouble writing due to the APD, with so much effort to expend with organizing thoughts and organizing the mechanics of writing. Do any of you also have this dysgraphia? If so, do you find that it limits your ability to utilize the texting fully?

  4. 20 September 2007 at 1:14

    […] mentioned before (“Read my clips”) that being able to acquire a useful AT can be problematic for many people. We have to find out it […]

  5. Catana said,

    27 August 2006 at 7:02

    I met my husband in college and started reading for him there. I would have volunteered later for Recordings for the Blind, but you had to be able to work in their studios. The tapes I made for Woody probably would have helped others, but they weren’t “official” so weren’t acceptable. In a pinch, I could read three or four hours a day, with plenty of breaks, but it was too exhausting to keep up that pace. Things must be a lot easier these days for blind or vision-impaired students.

  6. qw88nb88 said,

    21 August 2006 at 21:11

    My sympathies, Catana. One of my previous jobs was as an audio-reader, recording fiction and textbooks on tape for the blind & print-impaired. It’s a dreadfully slow process, as two hours of recording was all I could do in a day. The hardest part was for the people who were waiting for these materials; usually they needed or wanted them now, if not yesterday!

  7. Catana said,

    21 August 2006 at 20:44

    My husband was blind and at the time he died, speech technology for computers was still hard to come by and very expensive. He was retired, so he didn’t qualify for financial assistance for any devices. Now the technology is freely available to everyone. One of the big regrets of my life.

  8. Catana said,

    21 August 2006 at 17:10

    I’m delighted to have given you the chance to say “Dear Devoted Reader.”

    We’ve all crashed and burned many times, but I think you’re way ahead of me in the grace department. I’m a very slow learner in some areas.

    I’ve thought about leaving comments on some of the older post, which I’m in the process of reading. Especially the one about learning and teaching styles. I was well into my forties before I started getting a handle of why some aspects of school were so awful for me (aside from the sheer boredom).

  9. qw88nb88 said,

    21 August 2006 at 16:19

    Dear Devoted Reader,

    (Damn, I always wanted to say something like that :: grin:: )

    Thank you so kindly for the kudos! Feel free to make comments on any posts, including older ones.

    To be honest, I haven’t survived with grace always, but rather have crashed-and-burned more than once. Such events keep one humble, and alert for more potholes in the road. It’s only been in the recent few years that I’ve been able to understand just why so many things were so hard. Then of course, I had to learn more, and …

    “Education is a sexual disease, it makes you unsuitable for a lot of jobs and then you have the urge to pass it on.”
    ~ Terry Pratchett


  10. Catana said,

    21 August 2006 at 11:02

    Totally irrelevant to the topic at hand… I just discovered your blog and am blown away by its clarity and precision of thought. It’s like a drink of cool water on a hot day. I’m not autistic, nor do I have CAPD, but so much of your experience resonates. (Possibly very mildly Asperger’s, but I’m not sure it’s that important to find out.) So many things can make you a stranger in a strange land, including high intelligence. Amazing that you survive that with such grace, and added to the various disabilities you write about. I am henceforth your devoted reader.

  11. natalia said,

    20 August 2006 at 18:23

    My husband and I texted and sent photo messages when he was back in his country for 3 months finishing his university classes, and it was pretty crucial to our marriage staying together… or at least feeling connected at any given moment. So much so that I somehow blanked out how much they told me the messages were going to cost on international roaming, and got a horrible surprise on the bill. But it was worth it.

    By the way, this is funny, or maybe not … but because of dysphasia and dyspraxia (?) he has a way of speaking in his own first language, that many other native speakers find difficult to understand. So when we first met, through internet, email or chat, always writing, there was some question whether we would understand each other in speaking, although i have been learning his language for more than 20 yrs. So we joked that, in the worst case, we would sit next to each other online and write by chat instead of talking. It didn’t happen; we understand each other in Spanish or even in English now. But we had a plan, just in case.

    Anyway congrats on your new phone!

    Can you get free or reduced-price texting like deaf people get reduced phone bills because of needing more time to type with TTY than speaking takes?

  12. Joel Smith said,

    20 August 2006 at 18:04

    My workplace bought me a Blackberry – a cell phone on steroids basically. It was approved specifically as an accommodation because of my difficulty with speech. The keyboard sure makes things a lot easier. Plus, it integrates with the IM system my workplace uses, so I can easily IM almost anyone that I need to communicate with.

    It’s made things a lot nicer for me. :)

  13. 20 August 2006 at 17:28

    Canna comprehend yer, textin ain’t moi bisness, thats for the yungstahs they moight bin textin may but I caarnt text ’em back an’t got the fingers un thums fer tha’

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