Zachary Willingham is our Saltillo Spotlight Celebrity for November. He is 18 years old and goes to East Paulding High School in Dallas, GA.
Zach’s favorite things to do are going to football games and playing on his computer and iPad. He likes jumping on the trampoline, swimming, hanging out with his best buddy, Josh, and spending weekends at Aunt Donna’s.
Zach has had both an Xpress and a DynaVox V before getting his Nova Chat in the beginning of 2013. His mother, Shari, reported that Zach has been involved in programming his NovaChat from the beginning, which she thinks has definitely made a difference with his success in using it. She also thinks that the portability has been a plus. “He truly does use his device in every aspect of his daily living”.
Zach is fortunate to receive communication therapy at Dynamic Therapy Associates (http://www.mydynamictherapy.com) in Kennesaw GA. Vicki Clarke, owner, President, SLP, and AAC Specialist extraordinaire has been his therapist for many years. Vicki and her staff believe that because they work with their clients and their families for so long, they know a bit about what they really need to communicate! They organize vocabulary based on what they know makes sense to the individual client.
The route Vicki took with clients like Zach was using their communication devices to introduce places, activities, medical procedures and people in a safe, familiar manner before big events such as going to the dentist, doctors, or community events take place. Apparently for Zach it worked!!! Zach has always had a fear of all doctor visits so that is just one example of providing the right vocabulary for scary or unfamiliar situations. To top it off Zachary actually helped label, arrange and color code the symbols on his NovaChat. He chose to put each doctor’s pictures on one row, labeled the doctor “Dr. Ear,” (ENT) “Dr. Lisa,” and “Dr. Head” (Psychiatrist) and gave each their own color row. For Zachary, it made sense that this page was placed under the category of “People” on his “Doctor” page. Dr. Ear got his own special page since the event was a major surgery.
Again, mom stated, “How are you supposed to put into words the significance of this? It’s ‘ginormous!’ For the first decade or so we didn’t go to the doctor unless it was something significant. You only went to the doctor as a last resort, if we couldn’t fix it ourselves. Now (Zachary) goes and has physicals and regular checkups with the ENT to make sure everything is okay. I don’t have to wait until he has the 105 degree fevers, seizures and raging infections before we have it checked out. Preventative medicine is now an option.”