Transitions are by definition times of change. And, when Jamie Dolan transitioned to adult day services, he left behind his big bulky communication device that had been abandoned in middle school because it was functionally unusable for him. So, when Jamie began adult day services at AHRC NYC, his Community Support Supervisor, Sarah, thought he might benefit from an AAC device. After all, Jamie was attending a day program “without walls” and was immersed in community life on a daily basis. Through a referral, Jamie and his mom were introduced to the Nova Chat 8. His mom recognized the value of the Nova Chat in providing new possibilities and opportunities for Jamie now that he had become an adult. So, after all was said and done, Jamie finally became the owner of a Nova Chat 8. With strong parental advocates and a committed team of service providers, Jamie began the process of using a Nova Chat 8 to make his “voice” “heard.”
So, it’s no surprise that on March 21st, which was World Down Syndrome Day, Jamie had the opportunity to speak at the World Down Syndrome Day Conference held at the United Nations. He was very proud to make a presentation to people from around the globe, made possible by using his speech device, and was the only person using speech augmentation.
At the UN, Jamie represented the National Down Syndrome Society where he works one afternoon a week preparing information kits about the needs and abilities of people with Down syndrome. Jamie also volunteers in his community through support programs at AHRC and YAI. He works at his neighborhood library, delivers lunches to homebound seniors, and helps prepare lunches for seniors at a local center.
At the UN, Jamie introduced himself and added, “I am 31 years old. I am a self-advocate. I advocate for myself by doing a good job. And I make people happy when I say, ‘Have a nice day’.”
One particular issue that Jamie advocated for at the Conference is finding an affordable apartment. “I want to be more independent and live with friends. I want to live in New York City near my family.” In the past Jamie has participated in demonstrations and volunteered for politicians who support better funding for people with disabilities. He said, “Many people with disabilities have speech and hearing problems—but we have a voice!” At the UN on March 21, people from around the world were able to “hear” Jamie’s voice, loud and clear!
Lorraine Cohen, M.S., CCC-SLP
Assistive Technology Specialist
AHRC New York City