Ron finds new freedom to communicate!
Sherwood met Ron after his referral for an assistive technology assessment. Ron’s Cerebral Palsy greatly restricts both his verbal communication and his physical movements. Our Assistive Technology (AT) team began teaching Ron how to use an iPad and an accompanying communication App. The iPad allowed Ron to independently answer questions and make requests while eliminating the communication guessing game. However, Ron’s physical limitations made direct contact with the iPad challenging and frustrating.
The AT team and Ron continued working over the next 3 months trying a variety of approaches to support the use of the iPad but Ron still had difficulty manipulating the device. Sherwood’s AT manager decided to reach out to Prentke Romich Company (PRC) to set up a consultation regarding the possibility of obtaining a speech-generating Eye Gaze system. Sherwood led collaborative efforts between PRC and Ron’s home support staff and after 6 months an Accent 1400 NuEYE™ Tracking System was secured.
Instead of pointing or groaning Ron is now able to directly tell people his needs or feelings. At age 60, this new technology is opening Ron’s world up to possibilities he never had before. Learning a new way to communicate can be strange and feel intimidating. Despite the difficulties and physical energy required to use the device Ron repeatedly puts in the effort and after his very first try with his Accent 1400, he knew he was in control!
Sherwood continues to work with Ron and his home care staff to train and tailor the device to his needs and interests so that he can more easily talk with his roommates, staff, and family. He works very hard to sit up as straight as he can and to look at his screen. Prior to Sherwood, Ron used hand gestures and a picture book to communicate; now within a few moments he can ask, “How are you today?” and engage in a two-way conversation about work and the weather.
The power behind Sherwood is not only our team but the unique ability to support clients across the lifespan. Our AT program serves people of all ages and while working with Ron a casual conversation led to employment through our Vocational Services program. When Ron met, Jolynn an Employment Specialist, he spoke of his passion for working at a church. Jolynn found employment for Ron at a church near his home shredding documents. Understanding Ron’s limited mobility, Jolynn had a ramp constructed that could be connected to a shredder; Ron celebrated his 3rd anniversary at his job this year and was even hired by his church to shred when they discovered his skills.
As his final session was ending, Kristopher stood, walked over to the counter, and grabbed a banana. When finished, he walked over and showed his mom the banana peel. His mom requested that he put it in the garbage, and with no hesitation, Kristopher walked to the bottom cupboard, opened the door, and placed the peel in the garbage and closed the door. His mom said, “Thank you for listening” and she cast her gaze onto us with wide, almost in disbelief, eyes. “He wasn’t doing that when we started!” she whispered with a choke.
As the front door closed, his Therapist Susan said, “These are the outcomes that I love to see and this is what makes me love what I do.”
His manager Mike says, “Stefan makes a difference by having a positive attitude and a willingness to learn. He is here every day and is always on time. Stefan has become one of the best and most enthusiastic sanders we have. He brings attention to detail like no other.”
When asked if he had anything to add, Stefan had some advice. “If you are going to work at a job you want to look at the postiive.” He recommends having a positive attitude. It’s much better than going to work with a negative attitude.
Kyle's Employment Specialist says he is very spatially aware and with minimal direction, he successfully completes his designated tasks within his hour long shifts.
Having a job allows a certain level of independence and social interaction that can really make a huge difference in a persons attitude and self confidence. It’s obvious that Kyle loves his jobs and enjoys being a part of his community.