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The PRC-Saltillo offices will be closed on May 30 in observance of the holiday. We apologize for any inconvenience this has caused.

November's Spotlight Star - Winn

Posted on 2015-01-08 10:17:28 by Admin under AAC in Action


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.

September's Spotlight Star- Carmen

Posted on 2014-09-29 14:34:07 by Admin under AAC in Action


Meet Carmen, an energetic 5 year old with a cheerful personality and contagious smile.  She enjoys bubbles, music, computer activities, and sensory-motor play. She has a strong interest in letters and numbers and is beginning to demonstrate early literacy skills. Carmen enjoys looking at books and pictures of animals and can identify and name more animals than most other children her age.  Carmen is definitely eager to learn.  

Carmen has faced many challenges, including difficulties with gait, balance, coordination, regulating body temperature, self-care skills, and functional communication.  She was diagnosed with a seizure disorder, characterized by frequent, intractable seizures, often followed by the global regression of skills including decreased verbal language.  Carmen is able to imitate verbal models; however, she struggles to express her wants and needs spontaneously.

Previously, Carmen was successfully using a mid-tech communication device at school.  She was able to access a static voice output device with up to 20 buttons. About two years ago, the family and school team decided it was time to introduce a device with robust vocabulary system. After trialing multiple high-tech communication devices, Carmen received her NOVA chat 7 just over a year ago. During her early time with the NOVA chat, Carmen enjoyed exploring the device.  She quickly learned how to label items in her environment with the support of her new device. Her favorite phrases included “Are you kidding me?” and “I’m so over it”.  As her navigation abilties of the NOVA chat 7 improved, she began to include functional phrases in conjunction with her favorite phrases. She is able to greet, request items, specify using modifiers, request actions of others, request more, close an activity, and bid farewell.

Carmen’s skills fluctuate following seizure activity; however, her NOVA chat 7 has provided a consistent form of communication. Strong family support has been a defining factor in Carmen’s communication skills. Her mother, father, and brother are always supportive and encouraging of Carmen.  The family is learning how to implement the device across settings.  Despite Carmen’s many challenges, she continues to make great leaps and bounds with her communication.  She is a joy to watch as she continues down her path with the NOVA chat 7.



August's Spotlight Story- the NOVA Chat from an SLP's view

Posted on 2014-09-02 11:31:50 by Admin under AAC in Action

It is human nature for us to take for granted our ability to communicate. We forget the power of words. With our words we love, dream, fear, hope, encourage, tear down, and rejoice. All the while never dwelling upon what it would be like if we didn’t have a way to communicate. As a Speech Language Pathologist, we face this challenge almost daily when we are presented with an individual who does not have an effective way to communicate. Luckily, we live in a society that has made great strides in technology. Individuals who previously never had a voice – now have the ability to be heard.

When I took a job with Active Development Therapies LLC in the greater Houston, TX area, one of my first cases was an 8 year old boy with the diagnosis of autism. He displayed classic autism: echolalic speech, perseverative behaviors, stemming, no joint attention, extremely limited expressive language, and limited eye contact. For months, I attempted a picture exchange system, but the only item he requested independently was a Thomas the Train toy. In addition, he experienced poor behaviors such as screaming and tantrum like behavior. One day I finally made the decision to trial high-tech devices with him.  

Initially it was a struggle, but slowly he began to realize the devices I presented to him were a mode of communication. We trialed multiple devices but I never could find one that quite fit him. Throughout the trials it became apparent that his dominant language was Spanish. I contacted a representative at Saltillo to receive a trial device upon learning they produced a bilingual system.

I’ll never forget the moment that I saw comprehension dawn on his sweet face. I was attempting to have him label various animals using the NovaChat 10-bilingual (it hadn’t been going all that well), and then all of a sudden it was like a ‘light bulb’ came on. He grabbed all of the animal figurines I was holding, and one by one he held up the animal and told me their names using the device. Over the past few months, I have observed his vocabulary explode.  Upon entering a treatment session he immediately searches for the device. He requests activities independently and during structured activities labels animals, colors, body parts, and food independently. In addition, while using the device, he demonstrates joint attention in shared book readings; he requests items to complete structured tasks; and he is beginning to share personal information like his name. All the while, his expressive vocabulary has begun emerging and his eye contact has improved. This device is impacting his life in phenomenal ways and I believe it will continue to empower him in the years to come. 

The Nova Chat is an amazing user friendly device – read below what my fellow co- workers have to say:

I have been working with a 9 year old child, who first came to us with self-mutilating and aggressive behaviors in addition to a complete lack of verbal language. He was resistant to physical touch and often became extremely agitated upon being presented with any task that required him to attend. We began by slowly introducing a picture exchange program upon gaining rapport and found that we were quickly in need of a higher tech form of alternative communication. Eventually, he began using the Nova Chat 10 and presented with increasing success within each therapy session, resulting in decreased aggression and demonstration of appropriate communicative intent. The best moment in working with this child and the Nova Chat 10 device was definitely hearing his boyish giggle and sharing in his elated smile as he received bubbles upon requesting for them independently. His smile was worth a thousand words. – Candace Kopech M.S. CCC-SLP

I have personally been very pleased Saltillo’s communication devices.  I currently have a patient who owns the NovaChat 7 and I  have seen immense gains in her communication skills with the use of the device.  As she is nonverbal secondary to her diagnosis, she once demonstrated frustration from the inability to communicate with others, often resulting in breakdowns consisting of screaming and crying both at home and at school.  When she was introduced to augmentative communication, she responded with ease, resulting in changes in her overall attitude noted by many. She now smiles and laughs often, as well as reaches for her device to communicate in times of frustration.  Using the NovaChat 7, she is now able to communicate in all settings with all conversational partners.  The NovaChat 7 has provided for both her basic and complex communication needs as she is able to use appropriate social greetings such as “hello” and “goodbye” as well as introduce herself.  She can also successfully use her device to provide personal information such as her address and telephone number, providing her parents with a sense of security, given a time of emergency should arise.  The device has empowered my patient as she is now able to request desired activities and foods, as well as express her feelings and wants to others.  Additionally, she uses the device to participate in leisure and play activities, by completing phrases in books and songs, which she loves. Having used various types of communication devices and by speaking to parents of both NovaChat and other device users, the programming and set up for the device is to understand for both service providers and caregivers.  As the device is lightweight, durable, and easy to carry using the shoulder strap, my patient transports her device with her everywhere.  Recently, as is common with technology, the device began malfunctioning for an unknown reason.  The technical support team at Saltillo was phenomenal and walked me through the trouble shooting over the phone with great patience and even allowed me to ship the device to them, performing maintenance free of charge. They understood my need for timely assistance with the device and I received the device back within a week!   The NovaChat 7 has been successful in assisting me with my goal in providing my patients with a means for communication, and I will consider the use of Saltillo’s devices in the future.  I cannot speak for all NovaChat users, but I do know one little girl and her family whose lives have been immensely blessed through the use of her NovaChat 7 communication device. Stephanie Mitchell M.S. CCC-SLP

I have been a certified Speech-Language Pathologist for only a short 3 years, and I will admit that when I graduated with my Masters degree I knew very little about Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) devices and strategies. However, when I began my clinical fellowship year at a pediatric outpatient facility it was immediately evident to me that I needed to learn more – and fast. The population that we serve at Active Development Therapies varies widely in severity and types of diagnoses, but what I noticed immediately was that so many of the kids on my caseload had little to no hope of being successful verbal communicators – what was I going to do? I needed to find a way to move my kids beyond communicating with basic signs (which most people do not understand) and to encourage them to use their communication skills for more than just requesting (a limitation I was finding in using printed pictures).

Thankfully, through the help of my colleagues and some clinical research, I began delving deeply into the world of AAC. And boy, were my eyes opened wide! The opportunities for communication through the use of AAC are endless! I currently have two children on my caseload going through a trial period with the Nova Chat 10, and in recent past I have assisted in obtaining a Nova Chat 7 for two other patients. I am a firm believer that not one device fits all; however, I have found that the Nova Chat can be tailored to suit the needs of several children on my caseload. I have one child with severe spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy, age 10, who is non verbal and in a wheel chair using the Nova Chat 10 with two head switches, communicating information about her (name, age, brother’s name, what she likes), communicating what she wants to do, and communicating greetings through the 2-switch scanning access mode on the Nova Chat. In contrast, I have a child with Wolf-Hirschorn Syndrome, age 13, who is also non verbal using the direct access method with his right and left hands on the Nova Chat 10 to communicate primarily basic wants and needs with the hopes of expanding his language once he becomes more familiar with the Nova Chat.

I cannot say enough positive ways in which the use of AAC has significantly improved the quality of life of many children on my caseload. The Nova Chat has proven to be a device that is easily tailored to fit both the communication and physical needs of my patients with the ability to modify the complexity of the vocabulary system used on the Nova Chat to meet my clients where they are communicatively. Feel free to call our speech therapy team for more information on our success with using the Nova Chat! – Hannah Key M.A. CCC-SLP

Here at Active Development Therapies LLC, we have seen the Nova Chat impact many children’s lives, and we will continue to consider this awesome device as we strive to meet the needs of our patients. - Jessica McAdams M.S. CCC-SLP


June's Spotlight Star- Parker!

Posted on 2014-06-10 15:15:42 by Admin under AAC in Action



"The lights are on in there," the doctor would say at every visit. And they always have been for our sweet Parker, who is 6, and although still undiagnosed, struggles with severe mitochondrial dysfunction, hypotonia and cyclic vomiting among other things. 


Parker is non-verbal, but has always been an excellent communicator - it was easy to figure out what he needed. But still, he needed and deserved a "real" voice. We knew he had things to say, things we wanted to know about him - and mostly when he was sick (Parker has been in the hospital 119 times) we wanted to understand what was wrong so we could help him feel better. 


Before Parker was matched with the Nova Chat we had tried it all. We had Big Mac Buttons, communication cards, charts and binders. We did PECS. We tried sign language. We moved on to the iPad and tried many different apps. We tried the GoTalk. They all worked with minimum success, and they were exhausting. The reality was, I was often times taking care of a very sick child, and I really didn't want to carry around a (fill in the blank...binder, necklace, chart, large device). 


On our journey, we have been so very blessed to have worked with two of the best speech therapist. Our first super-therapist, after working with Parker for four years, looked up at me one day and said "it's time, you need to see Pat." 


And it was. Now we had found our amazing second super-therapist. She, after months of working with Parker and trying all different devices, matched him with the Nova Chat. Pat, Parker and the Nova Chat are a match made in heaven. Finally a device that could house all his vocab in one spot. Finally a device that was portable. Finally a device, that with Parker's low tone, was easy for him to use. Finally he had a voice.


There have been many magical moments in the year since Parker received his Nova Chat. The first time he requested to eat (eating was something he did not learn to do until he was 5). Pat got him a snack - and he ate it! He really did, want to eat. His love of music was also confirmed through using the device, Parker told Pat he wanted to play music, and would pick out individual instruments to play. I've been in awe watching him grow more proficient and stronger (in the beginning he needed 100 percent assistance to find the right word and push it) at using the device. But mostly, I have also had the opportunity to get to know my son. Yes, he really did want blueberries for a snack every day. No - he really did not want to watch "Mickey Mouse Clubhouse" anymore. He told us he needed a hug, a break, a drink -a juice box to be specific, and so much more. 


And then one day, my real dream came true. We knew Parker was having a so-so day, but all of a sudden, in the middle of his session with Pat, he used the Nova Chat to tell Pat his head hurt and he needed medicine. There was a moment of silence and disbelief - and then cheers (and I really wanted to cry).


I feel lucky that we were able to match Parker with the right device (and therapist) so early in his life. I know this is only the beginning of what he will learn and be able to tell us, and I can't wait to find out what he has to say!