Well, that's a misleading title, because I basically have no idea. Maya uses her talker, and her voice, and signs, and points, and doesn't much show what she thinks about her multi-modal communication efforts . . . not yet, anyway. There have been times of yelling and intensity when she can't get her point across, but that's more about an inability to communicate than it is about her modes of communication.
And Will . . . well, he's a baby. I'm even less sure about what's happening in his head than I am about what happening in Maya's.
But in the past week, they've both given me little glimpses into their thoughts about Maya's AAC use, and her talker, and it's been very interesting.
Last night Maya and I were discussing dinner. The words in bold (with quotes) were things that were said aloud, the words in italics were with the talker. (bold + italics means I was talking and modeling on the talker)
Me: "Maya, for dinner you can eat rice and vegetables."
Maya: "No. I want" yogurt "please."
So she spoke "No, I want" then tapped yogurt and then spoke "please." In a discussion on our Facebook page last night I was informed that this is called code switching. It's really interesting, to me, because Maya was being pretty forceful at the time---she really wanted yogurt---and she stopped speaking to tap yogurt and then returned to speaking again. It's important to note that she has no way of speaking the word "yogurt"---nothing clear, at least---but can clearly say "no I want please". She knew I wouldn't understand her spoken yogurt and chose to use a different language (kind of) to tell me. Pretty cool.
Now, onto Will.
I wonder about what Will will think of Maya's talker, since he's growing up with it from birth. When will he understand that it's her voice, a way of speaking? When will he recognize that it is a part of her?
Last week Maya was playing with our pink iPad, which is not the talker but holds a back-up copy of her communication app. (It also holds learning games, since the iPad that we use as the talker is solely for communicating and doesn't have any other apps.) A glitch had caused the voice on the pink iPad to reset to an adult male voice (clearly different from the young female voice that Maya uses). Maya started using the pink iPad to talk (with the man voice) to Dave and Will . . . and Will thought it was hilarious.
This is particularly interesting because I experimented the next day, tapping things in the man's voice, and Will didn't laugh at all. He also doesn't laugh when Maya uses her talker. It seemed to be the fact that she was talking to him using the man voice that cracked him up . . . perhaps similar to if I started talking to him in a silly, deep voice?
So, does that mean that (at 6 months old) he understands that the talker is her way of speaking? Does he recognize her typical talker voice? It seems like possibly yes to both, although who could really say for sure. It's interesting, nonetheless, and it will be interesting to hear both of their thoughts about AAC as they grow up immersed in it.