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George and the Nova Chat 7

Posted on 2012-09-20 15:40:55 by Admin under AAC in Action

Meet George R. He is our Spotlight star for September. George is 9 years old. He is in the fourth grade at Mountain Road Elementary School.  Most of the day, George is in a self-contained classroom, but he does go with other students to science, social studies, and specials like art, music, etc.


He lives with his mother and younger brother William. George and William’s pets include a fish named Beta, a hamster, and a bearded dragon, which is part of the lizard family.  George also likes birds, especially penguins. In his spare time at home, George likes to read and use the computer. His mom says he has always been great with technology. He can find anything on the computer. His favorite game is “Angry Birds”.

George’s mother describes him as shy and not real verbal unless you ask him a question. He doesn’t use a lot of spontaneous speech. George began going to Dynamic Therapy Associates in Kennesaw when he was 2 years old. His mother reports that his therapist, Miss Vicki, was the only person who had high expectations that George would talk. When George was two and a half, he was still babbling rather than using words. He really didn’t start talking until he was about 5. His therapist described him as apraxic, and he also had some motor issues. While there are still some intelligibility and motor issues to work on, George has shown marked improvement in many areas, especially in fine motor skills. George’s first AAC device was a Dynavox. He didn’t really take to it because it was too big and heavy to carry around. Miss Vicki introduced George to the NovaChat 7. She wanted to see if he could manage it better because it was smaller. The NovaChat proved to be a winner!! George understood how to find his way around the pages in no time. He was motivated to use it immediately with minimal prompting. George received his own NovaChat around the first of June this year. He is using the ChatPower 42 vocabulary file.

Right now George prefers to verbalize when folks ask him questions or if he wants something so he is using his NovaChat as a learning tool when he’s doing his homework or working on his spelling. He is also using it more and more to answer questions about what he is reading. George’s mother feels that with the NovaChat, George is more focused. She feels that his speech has improved because his vocabulary has increased.






Jared and his Alt-Chat

Posted on 2012-08-14 11:35:49 by Admin under AAC in Action

Jared's first encounter with AltChat happened early in 2011.
Jared's mother, Joann and I (Uncle Danny) took Jared to the United Cerebral Palsy Foundation in San Diego. After several meetings with UCPF, Jared was ready to meet Joy, the woman who runs the office. Upon meeting Joy, Jared spent one and a half hours answering all sorts of questions. They had many different kinds of communication devices there for Jared to experience.  Moving from device to device, he answered all her questions.  At the end of the questions, Jared touched the button that said "finished." As we were walking towards the door Jared moved to another AltChat and touched the button "McDonald's", then "Fries." It was the first time Jared had ever asked for anything with a "voice"!
It was a few months later before we actually received the AltChat. I immediately, entered some phrases and pictures to help Jared along. One of the button icons had a finger pointing out of a hand and my voice saying , "You’re in trouble!"   
I was excited to talk to Jared and down played the whole use of the AltChat till a week had passed by. Jared came over and was playing in my backyard when I called to him to come in the house and tell me something. He marched right in, sat down and began touching buttons really fast. “You're in trouble, You are silly, Ha ha ha." I looked at Jared and asked are you making fun of me? He repeated two more times touching the buttons in the same order while laughing at me. I cried, Jared was cute and funny and he knew how to use the AltChat!  We then knew that Jared would be able to use this device.

Soon after we discovered he could point out the icons on his device in real life! Especially the McDonalds and Taco Bell restaurants. But what would he do if we removed the icons? As a test we left everything in place - and simply had the names of things. At a boy Scout ceremony - sitting on the grass with his Aunt - he really showed us his full capabilities! All the icons had been removed from the box and Jared still knew what they where!!! He still knew Aunt Marlo, and his newest entries of his step brother and sister and how to say what he wanted.
A Couple months later when he was in the hospital waiting for dental surgery, in the patients waiting area, Jared walked over to a pretty teenage girl and asked, "What's your name?" She answered and then Jared asked, "Will you dance with me?" She said, "Yes." And they danced to Lady Gaga! Another one of Jared's favorite buttons, that plays music.
Jared's use of his AltChat has been a doorway into his soul. We all know more about him and his personality has really shined through the use of his AltChat. Jared's mother and I now know that he likes Curious George on line video games, that burritos are his favorite food.

Jared has progressed, from make grunts and yelling all day, to asking and telling us what he wants. Life has become more of a reward for all of us!  We love the button that says "I Love You, Mom."
The more we add - the more he has to talk about! It's thrilling to see him be able to communicate when he wants to. I think the challenge will be to get him to do this more. He has grown up using other forms of communication - like pulling you or pointing. Now he has to get used to what we call "his voice"!

Madison and the Alt-Chat

Posted on 2012-06-26 14:24:58 by Admin under AAC in Action

Madison Mannella is a very compassionate and loving 11 year old with a diagnosis of Floating Harbor Syndrome.  She has a shining personality and brings a smile to everyone’s face when she walks in the room.  She loves helping out around the classroom and is often cleaning up after her classmates.  She is a VERY SOCIAL, non-verbal young lady who has a LOT to say.

Maddy has been involved with the Communication Assessment and Support Team (CAST) at the Niagara Peninsula Children’s Centre since 2005, and started using her first speech generating device, an Alt-Chat Plus by Saltillo Corporation in 2010.  She uses her Alt-Chat for many different reasons: to greet, ask and answer questions, call attention, socialize, chime in, participate in classroom activities, re-tell about an event, tell a joke, make choices, etc.   Maddy enjoys sharing with her classmates about her favorite things using her Alt-Chat.  Those include Justin Bieber, her friends, her (stuffed) bunny, and playing xbox (hockey).  Her Alt-Chat has also allowed her to actively participate in all classroom activities.  Using her AltChat to write about her projects, she then saves full messages so that she can give speeches/presentations.

Each week Maddy is part of the Cafe team at NPCC, where she helps to bake and sell treats. Using her AltChat, Maddy’s Cafe jobs include sharing the menu, asking customers what they would like to drink/eat, telling the customers how much their order is, and wishing them a nice day.

She also actively participates in the Justin Bieber Twitter Project.  This was a project created by Aly Albanese, who is a Speech Language Pathologist on the Communication Assessment and Support Team (CAST) at the Niagara Peninsula Children’s Centre in Ontario, Canada.  “My goal was to create a fun, motivating, functional and MEANINGFUL  language/sentence building activity for a group of three girls. All three girls are huge Justin Bieber fans, like most pre-teen girls, so I thought that by giving the girls access to social media and a challenge (to get Justin Bieber to contact them) would be an exciting and motivating way for the girls to become more proficient device/strategy users. I created a twitter account, @girls_of_npcc, and the girls have been tweeting since January 2012. The girls use their Augmentative and Alternative Communication devices/strategies to create messages, and I then tweet the messages for them. The girls have enjoyed asking Justin Bieber questions, telling him about themselves, and sharing class projects and photos. We are still waiting for a reply, but the girls’ spirits are high”, said Aly.  She has also recently been emailing Ellen with the girls’ story. The girls have had fun tweeting Ellen and sending her funny pictures of them with Ellen and Justin Bieber paper masks.  Let’s hope they meet their goal soon!

Maddy & her Alt-Chat

Maddy & her Speech Language Pathologist, Aly

Jamel and the Nova Chat 7

Posted on 2012-06-26 14:17:38 by Admin under AAC in Action

My name is Jamel Mills. I live in New York City. I am artistic. I want to show people I can do some things without speaking. I love dancing and I am writing a novel and a musical. I am also a loveable, elegent, and sensitive dude.  I like listening to Raggaeton music. Raggaeton is Latin and Caribbian music and almost all songs are sung in Spanish. I took Spanish in high school so I understand almost all of words. I love my NOVA chat 7.  I can finally talk after all these years. It's not hard to use and its light weight. I use myCore ss vocabulary file. I can take pictures and go on the web. I chose to use Brian, the adult male British voice because my best friend Cheryl has a British accent. I even used the memo on my device to write this story and email it to Saltillo. I hope you enjoyed my story.