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Max's Story

How One Autistic Boy has Learned to Speak and Read with Help from his "Talker"

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When 9-year-old Max rides around his home town with his mom Theresa, he enjoys helping with directions. "On Salem, off Salem, turn College. Turn left. Go straight. "He'll read each and every street sign on the way. He tells us where he wants to go. We joke that instead of a Tom-Tom GPS we have our own Max-Max," Theresa says.

While most parents would expect this from a chatty child who is fascinated with cities, Max is no average boy: he's moderately autistic and was never expected to speak. It was when he received what the family calls his talker - a Prentke Romich (PRC) Vantage speech generating device that has been by his side for the last two years - that Max's journey to speaking and reading began.

Max gives directions and comments on what he sees

Max Generative Utterances

Max was two when he was diagnosed with autism. "When he turned one, he was saying 'mama' and 'baby.' That happened five times, maybe, and it stopped by 15 months and there was nothing after that," Theresa says.

Max began a therapy regime right away, and until he was seven utilized Picture Exchange Communication (PEC) and was using some modified signs he had adapted. "The problem was, signs worked at home for Mom and Dad because we understood them, but not with others," Theresa says.