Finding his voice

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.

Sam Dutnall
Head of Service
House 5
MacIntyre School Wingrave

Comments

  • Tess Marshall says:

    What a brilliant illustration of how tech can help!

  • Fay Walker says:

    What a great success story! Congratulations to Levi and his staff team on helping him to find his voice.

  • Jackie says:

    technology is the way forward- great example of evolving our thoughts and using tech

  • Catherine says:

    It is great to see this in practise – well done

  • Carol Davison says:

    Fantastic! Empowering for Levi.

  • Alison says:

    That’s very interesting and inspiring.

  • Emma Killick says:

    Thanks for sharing this Sam – fantastic to see how much of an impact the right tech can have on someone’s confidence and the level of control they can have over their life.
    Well done to the teams both at home and in the school for embracing this, getting their heads around it and then supporting and enabling Levi to use it. Most of all a huge well done to Levi -I’m sure this is just the start for him now….

  • Nicola Payne says:

    That’s fantastic how technology has helped Levi have a voice and recognise that the communication aid is his voice. Great to read !

  • Andrea Hartley says:

    Well done to the teams who have done some inspiring work, Levi I’m sure will really benefit from this and have more control with his own independence onwards and upwards to the future.

  • What a wonderful example of technology enabling growth and development. I used to work for MacIntyre and really miss working directly with people. I love these blogs and they always leave me with questions and wondering how things have progressed as you continue to seek further great interactions. Today’s blog leaves me wondering how using technology to communicate might have supported developments of communication using “low tech” methods. Particularly as technology can fail at the most awkward moment

    Keep up the great work!

  • Belinda Bradley says:

    A huge congraulations to the team who have made this possible for Levi. I wonder if there is anything more important than giving someone a voice? How transformational for him. It wonderful to see that he is using this in different environments meaning it has the potential to add hugely to the quality of his adult life after Wingrave as well. I hope you and Levi are all really proud of this success.

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