Levi is an almost 16 year old boy who has lived at Wingrave since the age of 9. Although he does not use words to communicate and has limited signing ability, he is a very able young man who can sometimes find it frustrating when trying to inform you of his wants and needs.
Late last year staff and the Speech and Language team reflected on Levi’s low tech and non-verbal communication. Following a speech and language assessment he was assessed for a high tech device by an external company resulting in Levi being given the opportunity to try out a robust communication aid from ‘Liberator’ for a period of 4 weeks. During this time Levi demonstrated ownership of the device as well as consistent and functional use in school, house and out in the community. The device is called a ‘rugged 7’ and uses a vocabulary programme called, ‘language acquisition through motor programming’ (LAMP) in which language is taught through repetition and consistent use.
In the beginning Levi had restricted vocabulary set on the device as these were the most functional and important words to him. This way he was able to achieve success and develop his confidence with the device. Now Levi’s vocabulary set is vast and he is able to access and use more words to form requests and make comments and tell staff how he is feeling.
Levi uses the device to ask for activities and food throughout the day and he also used the device to let staff know he wants to talk to his parents. In school he uses it to help support his work and demonstrate his understanding within the classroom. He still needs modelling and support to pick up new or difficult vocabulary but is very quick to learn the pathway after being shown and using it in context.
When the device was initially bought class and house staff members were given training on how to personalise it and support Levi throughout the day. Staff model new vocabulary for Levi and also build on his sentences by extending the sequence of words. With this facilitative approach and consistency, Levi has learnt very quickly how to make sentences and this has given him a voice. In himself Levi is now a much happier person and we believe this is due to him being able to inform us of his wants and wishes.
Levi has taken complete ownership of the device and successfully transitions around the school site and into the community to participate in activities. When asked ‘Where is your voice?” Levi will find his communication device straight away.
Head of Service
MacIntyre School Wingrave