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Building on Success

Max's sentences became more complex, and at the same time he did what his Mom never dreamed - he began repeating the words he communicated on his talker. His first word? "Fence!," Theresa remembers with a chuckle. "It wasn't perfectly pronounced, but I understood it.

"He was practicing what he was hearing and it was just wonderful - it was so exciting and impressive."

But Max wasn't done amazing his parents. As he became fascinated with cities and streets, he began using the device to spell the names of streets letter by letter - also an option on the PRC device - and used it to pronounce the word for him. Then he would repeat it verbally.

"That's when we began having to tell our non-verbal child to be quiet," Theresa kids.

Today - astoundingly - Max is at the point where he doesn't need the talker. "He is getting better at speaking and is more confident. He'll use it now when we can't understand what he's telling us," she says.

He also uses it to read. "He wasn't reading that we knew of before the talker. Now, he'll read a sentence with his talker and then press speak display to hear it, then say it verbally," she explains.

Theresa credits the device with much more than helping Max communicate - though that would be plenty, she says. "It has helped his interaction with people. His cousins, for example, are more comfortable with him. Now they see that he may be different, but he likes and wants the same things.

"And it helps me as an overprotective mom," she admits. Theresa recounted a frightening experience when Max attended camp before he had his talker. "He wasn't carrying a PEC book and he wandered away. It was terrifying, but I wouldn't have been as panicked if he had his talker. There would have more than just dumb luck involved in finding him," she says. (A stranger located him in a nearby parking lot and returned him to the camp.)