The Center for AAC and Autism

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Isaiah Finds his 'Voice'

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While speech therapist Sarah Allen has records denoting certain goals achieved while working with autistic 8-year-old Isaiah, like the increasing frequency with which he's sought out augmentative and alternative communication (AAC), more important to her -- and harder to measure objectively -- is how often his intent is successfully communicated.

With Isaiah, it can be tricky. For instance, he might be looking right at her, with a certain look in his eye, and using his PRC Vantage to say "eat." "More likely, what he's really saying is 'bite me,'" laughed Sarah, who has worked with Isaiah for the past year and a half. "He's funny. He's really funny!" And the Vantage has played a significant role in that, giving him the language he needs to express that humor.

Isaiah

"If you're using single-meaning pictures, an apple is 'apple' and eat is 'eat.' There's no room for 'bite me,'" said Isaiah's mom, Rose. It's just one example of some of the surprises Isaiah is capable of producing with his Vantage, which allows him to press buttons showing images and letters that can "speak" for him.

On a recent extended visit to the relatives, Rose explained, leaving took longer than Isaiah would have liked. When tapping out the symbols and saying "go car" and "go home" didn't get anyone's attention, he hit the button for "snail," expressing his displeasure for the pace of their departure.

"We knew he was funny. We just didn't know how funny he could be," said Rose, who admits she didn't even know there was a button for "snail" and still doesn't know how Isaiah knew.