When mum Angela first realised her son Jordan was struggling to communicate it became the number one priority—they had to find a way.
Unable to voice his needs and wishes Jordan was often an unhappy child.
Training and support
Jordan joined the Association’s First Steps for Autism program, where he attends weekly group and individual therapy sessions to consolidate and learn new skills in preparation for school. As part of this program, Speech Pathologists assess, trial and implement individualised communication supports, Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC), to maximise each child’s engagement across the environments in which they participate. The term AAC refers to all alternative communication systems including paper based boards, low technology (e.g. PODD) and a range of high tech systems including iPads.
The aim, with all of these systems, is to help the person to communicate independently. The family is always closely involved in deciding which system might suit their child best; and the device is trialled for four weeks. During this time the child is able to practise using it at home, school and out and about in the community. Training and support is provided to family members as well as to school and child care staff throughout the trial period.
Introducing the iPad
An iPad was selected for Jordan and the plan was created to meet his specific communication needs. What would Jordan want and need to communicate throughout his day to day life? Angela reports:
“The day the trial device [iPad] arrived the therapists and I took Jordan to a play room at the centre and began to play with some Lego. The therapist began commenting on colours and showing Jordan the buttons for the corresponding colour. It was when he was shown the Body section on the iPad and a game of tickles began, that he discovered he could request a tickle on his tummy. We added a button on this page to request a tickle, and that captured his attention. This was followed by weeks of tummy tickle requests!”
Jordan was to gain much more than tummy tickles with his personalised iPad.
Helping the whole family
Angela spoke of the positive impact of having the iPad programmed to meet Jordan’s needs at home and at school. It had opened up his world, enabling him to express his personality, engage more fully within the family and have his voice heard.
“Until the iPad trial, whenever his older brother did something Jordan disliked his response had been to hit or to kick. But with his device on hand, one morning when brother began making a noise that bothered him, Jordan had immediately pressed STOP, GO followed by AWAY. Jordan’s brother was amazed.”
Angela also told how Jordan had developed a rather cheeky habit at school. Thanks to his new found voice he was able to tell his teacher and the Education Assistant that he didn’t want to do the task presented!
A life changing piece of technology
Jordan has progressed to communicating what he wants to eat, what to watch on TV and to essential needs such as going to the toilet. His vocabulary is expanding every day—now he is able to deal with the ordinary aspects of life in a meaningful way. Angela has warmly expressed thanks to Autism Association staff for the help they have received in finding Jordan’s voice:
“We are so grateful for the opportunity to be involved with this. I cannot express enough, my gratitude to the lovely Speech Pathologist Danielle who worked with Jordan and myself to help with the trial and obtaining a communication device. It is a life changing piece of technology that can improve the quality of life for a whole family. THANK YOU!”