Winn is our celeb for the month of November. She was born on May 20, 2003 so that makes her 11 years old. Mom, Jennifer, reports that the family did not realize there was something wrong at birth, but by the time Winn was 4 months old, it was apparent she was not progressing developmentally as she should. After 2 years of doctors visits and therapies, Winn was diagnosed with a rare condition that would “take pages” to explain! Basically she is missing most of her cerebellum, which has affected her balance, speech, and coordination. Winn also has sensory integration issues and is on the Autism spectrum.
Due to the great love, support, and care from her family as well as continued therapies, today, Winn is able to walk, say a few words, use some sign language, and use her NovaChat7 independently and spontaneously.
Winn is a fifth grader at Sonny Carter Elementary in Macon GA. Her first speech generating device was not a NovaChat! However, she did learn to use it well enough to communicate basic needs and her family realized that she knew a bunch more than they imagined and that she was capable of learning much more. Winn completed a successful trial with a NovaChat 7 and received her own NovaChat in December of 2013. The family and Winn were so excited because of the many features that made the NovaChat easier for her to use than the other device. They are thrilled that it was so much lighter than her previous device. It allows her to carry her it everywhere independently. They love the larger buttons and better software because she is able to communicate much faster. Even though Winn has about 5 words and still uses some sign language, her NovaChat is her main form of communication.
Winn’s teachers and SLP at Sonny Carter describe her as a delightful 5th-grade student. They say she currently uses a NovaChat device for her main means of communication at school. At school this device is known by her peers and teachers as her "talker"! Winn carries her "talker" from class to class, for all activities, and to lunch. She uses it to greet teachers, staff, and friends in the hallways, as she enters the room, and around the school. She enjoys using her NovaChat at lunch to chat with her friends. Her "test answer" page allows her to respond to multiple choice and true/false questions during assessments or class response activities. You will often find Winn in a group of students who are so eager to talk with her using her "talker". She enjoys being social and her “talker” helps her engage in more meaningfully communicate. She is currently working at the sentence level to communicate. For example, she will create a sentence such as "I am hungry or I want to eat to express her wants and needs. Winn knows that she needs to use her "talker" at school to communicate her needs. While social academic-related communication is critical and made possible by her NovaChat, Winn can also use her "talker" to communicate more serious, personal information. For example, Winn recently was not feeling well at school. When asked what was wrong, she responded with "I am sad. I am sick. I want to go home. I need mom." Winn was, in fact, sick and was quite happy to see her mother when she came to pick her up from school. Without her NovaChat, this important message would have likely not been known. Winn's NovaChat makes a wide range of communication possible at school, and with staff training, implementation becomes more successful each week.
It’s always great to hear success stories like this. Everyone is so proud of Winn and glad to share her story. They all know Winn will continue to be a great success.