Weimen is a curious, determined and affectionate teenager attending school in Vancouver. He has Down Syndrome and some visual and hearing impairment which affected his ability to communicate with his peers and school staff. As he is non-verbal, Weimen has tried a number of communication systems over the years. Before he received a new AAC device from SET-BC, he had been using a very limited combination of sign language, Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS), and Go Talk 9+. It required time for him to shuffle through all of his picture cards to make a simple request. He also used gesturing and finger pointing to show emotions. However, this made it very difficult to understand him, especially when communicating with peers and staff who do not work closely with him.
Weimen was introduced to Touch Chat on the iPad in November of 2013 and since then, the team has noticed a significant difference in his interactions in the classroom. This communication solution allows Weimen’s team to set up vocabulary buttons that very specifically meet his communication needs for a wide variety of situations throughout his day. Weimen took to the new device with great interest – his team reports that he uses Touch Chat on the iPad on a daily basis to make requests, to choose activities during the day, to initiate a conversation with peers, to respond to questions and to communicate with others in the community.
His team is also trying the QWERTY keyboard embedded in Touch Chat to help increase Weimen’s vocabulary. According to Michael, his teaching assistant last year, Weimen’s peaked interest in communicating, as well as the increased interest of his peers, has promoted much more socializing. Michael says that he is able to see another side of Weimen’s personality through his use of technology such as his fine sense of humor. Touch Chat has proved to be very successful in helping Weimen integrate into his school. School staff report that they are “finally able to understand him” and his team couldn’t be more pleased.
Weimen’s team is noticing the increased confidence in expressing himself and is encouraging him to increase his opportunities to communicate meaningfully with a wider variety of people.
We hope he had a great transition to secondary school this past September!