- Posted March 29, 2014 by
Vero Beach, Florida
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Communicating through autism
This Boy's Life - Finding his Voice
We were desperate. All we wanted to hear was the sound of our son’s voice.
When our son, Wyatt, was three we used PEC (Picture Exchange Communication). At first it was not very successful. But soon he caught on. In time, we joked that we became his PEC’s servants! Anytime he put a few photos together to make a request – we were in the service of responding.
Wyatt’s compliance in the Pre-Kindergarten classroom was becoming an issue. His frustration level was increasing. He wanted us to understand. We turned to sign language and a series of videos called, “Signing Times.” We bought the classroom set for his teacher and also made posters for his afterschool provider. This allowed all of the children he interacted with to communicate with him.
As Wyatt neared his 5th birthday, it became clear to my husband and I that he may never speak. Distraught and again feeling desperate, we bought a Dynavox device. Wyatt was hooked from the beginning. He went from 6 tiles to 42 in a matter of months. Then the most miraculous thing happened, he wanted to use his voice.
We worked with the school team to try to increase his compliance with the Dynavox. It was clear that as much as he was using his voice, he was still difficult to understand.
His main interest in the Dynavox device was pushing the fart button or telling jokes.
We pushed on, with the support of the school team, to find things that would motivate his compliance and speech.
Wyatt loved the Disney video, "Song of the South" (know to him as "Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah") and loved to read along with the subtitles. He also loved SpongeBob Square Pants. Over time, he developed a love for preforming, and today participates in a variety of theater camps and productions.
By Wyatt’s seventh birthday, he could string together words, and his speech could be understood in contextual situations.
The greatest expansion of his language really was from the ages of 8 to 10 years of age. We call it the “pay off of early intervention.”
We know that there are other children who still struggle to use their voice. So we continue to fundraise and advocate on their behalf through a variety of activities. We want other parents to experience the same success.
Wyatt just turned 11 years old. He still struggles with being understood. However, he is good at using paper to spell or his iPad to type out the words.
The attached videos show Wyatt today, telling his own story, and others that feature our favorite memories.
Although there are many ways to communicate – nothing can quite compare to the sweet sound of our son’s voice.