Your donation today can help children with autism find their voice.
Taylor looks just like any other little girl enjoying a game in her garden but just eighteen months ago, it would have been quite rare to see Taylor laughing like this.
In most ways, she is just like other 7 year olds; she loves horse riding, swimming and children’s music group, Hi5.
But Taylor has autism and not so long ago, she really struggled to communicate.
Not being able to express herself made Taylor incredibly frustrated and when she wanted something, she would scream and slap herself, and hit out at family and her teachers. She wasn’t being naughty, she simply didn’t know how to say what she wanted or how to make sense of what was happening.
The good news is that today, things are much different for Taylor and her family. She still can’t speak but thanks to an innovative communication therapy device and a training program through Aspect, Taylor can tap out messages on a type of tablet computer that speaks for her and the change has been amazing. It’s opened up a whole world of communication and she’s so much happier.
So, what is the particular technology and therapy that brought about this amazing change in Taylor?
The technical part, sourced through an Adelaide firm and implemented in our programs through research funded by supporters like you, comprises a tablet computer. It’s a bit like a very sturdy iPad with special software that provides icons or pictures that represent words or phrases.
The icons include not just things like drinks or food or playthings but ways to express feelings and create whole sentences.
Then – and this is the real magic – it speaks the sentence out loud for the child. It truly gives them a voice.
We call it LAMP, which is short for Language Acquisition through Motor Planning. The ‘Motor Planning’ bit refers to the fact that children have to learn to select the correct mix of icons to express what they want to say.
It has been a life changer for kids like Taylor and all the intensive work that Aspect has put in to ensuring it works has been funded with the help of donations from generous people like you.
Taylor had been part of Aspect’s Building Blocks early intervention program for a year or so before she got her LAMP therapy and her device. With the help of the Aspect speech therapists, she had learned the old system of word cards, but the cards were limiting – only expressing nouns like ‘biscuit’ or ‘milk’ or ‘juice.’
There was no way for her to say, “I don’t like that” or, “I’m tired or cold” or, “could I have a chocolate biscuit instead,” – normal things that anyone would like to be able to say. The card aids just weren’t working for her and in frustration, Taylor would scream, kick and hit out.
Then the miracle occurred. Taylor got her LAMP device and with the help of her wonderful Aspect speech therapist, she learned to use it. And everything changed.
“Now,” her mum Mandy says, “After only 18 months, we can count her meltdowns and challenging behaviours on one hand.”
“She has taken to the LAMP program so well and is using words neither school nor we are teaching her. It’s so exciting.”
“Best of all though,” Mandy went on, “her personality is starting to come through and she can interact with us. She even makes us laugh using her device.”
“Even Carmen, her little sister, is using the device to communicate with Taylor. It’s totally changed their relationship. Although their playing is often on Taylor’s terms, they can interact with one another and their relationship is getting stronger every day. It’s a joy to see.”
This is the sort of joy you can bring this Christmas with a kind donation to Aspect. You can help a child with autism and their family know the pleasure of being able to communicate. We couldn’t think of a better gift to give.