Client Story: Joy: Bursting with Potential

Basic information

  • Sent: December 18, 2018
  • Expires: December 18, 2020

A new program is available at Calvin Rehab, combining expertise from area school districts, hospitals, and rehabilitation centers to provide clients with access to the most current AAC equipment and training. Meet one of their clients, Joy.

Editor's Note: AAC stands for augmentative and alternative communication, an evidence-based communication method to use technology or pictures to supplement or aid communication. Calvin Rehab along with several community partners has recently created a program to help under-served clients such as Joy. To find out more about our AAC Program, see our AAC services page or email Calvin Rehab.

Emma AAC web

Joy is a sweet, bubbly 10-year-old girl who lights up a room! To my surprise, she smiled, took my hand and walked with me into the Calvin College Rehabilitation Services building, not knowing who I was or that I would be part of the team to evaluate her speech and language skills that morning. Joy’s depth of impairment was apparent immediately. She was not able to converse as a typical 10 year old and was only able to produce simple sounds such as “uh huh” and “mmm,” and simple words such as “mom” and “da.”

Joy’s parents provided information that she had complications at birth with the cord wrapped around her head, sustained a skull fracture as an infant, and had a history of seizures, all of which may have contributed to her current functioning. Joy used all of the nonverbal means of communication available to her, such as pointing to the airplane in the sky outside the window, pointing to the bandaid on her finger, and giving a thumbs down response when we asked if her finger hurt so bad she needed to see the doctor! Joy has a LOT to say and lots of trouble getting it out!

We evaluated Joy and diagnosed her with severe Apraxia of Speech, a neurological impairment impacting a person’s ability to differentiate speech sounds from one another. In my 20+ years of being a speech pathologist, she stands out as a client who has extremely high potential to communicate fully if she could have access to intensive speech therapy to maximize verbal output, as well as specific instruction in the use of  an AAC device. She had been using the ProLoQuo2Go app on an iPad; however, the iPad was broken so her “voice” was no longer available.

We trialed her skills with this AAC app on one of our devices and she navigated screens and pointed to the icons to produce single word responses to answer questions: what did she want to play with: the “doll house!” and where did she want to go: the “toy store!” She was also able to spell her name and her sister’s name on the iPad which tells us that if she had a device she would be able to introduce herself and produce medical and biographical information in an emergency, which is so important for such an outgoing little girl! With intensive speech and language therapy targeting verbal production and the use of an AAC device, Joy has a huge potential to be able to share her thoughts and ideas with the world around her! She has a lot to say and just needs the help of professionals to convey her everyday wants and needs - as well as share her hopes and dreams!

-Submited by Sara Roelofs, MA, CCC-SLP


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