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January 2012 Events Ipad gift unlocks voice of local Missouri child Young girl surprises parents with her knowledge She wants to go to Greece for vacation, wants to wear blue jeans, and, yes, she has a “boyfriend”. Candice Williams used to think her daughter wasnʼt processing much of the world around her. But, when Gabrielle received an Ipad as a gift, Candice found out Gabrielle (she no longer wants to be called Gabby, because sheʼs a big girl now), was very aware of the world around her. Gabrielle was only four when she was diagnosed with autism. Her parents actively sought out treatment alternatives and saw marked improvement when they changed Gabrielle to an all natural, organic, plant based diet, including, among other things, a regiment of detoxing baths. “She became a much happier child,” says Candice. However, despite the many therapies and treatments, which brought various degrees of improvement, Gabrielle remained non-verbal. When her great grandmother in Arizona saw a TV special depicting a man with ASD using an Ipad to communicate she called the family. “Iʼm sending you an Ipad,” she announced. Within a month, Gabrielle, now 10 years old, was using her new “voice”. Though automated through the Ipad, she can now express her feelings and thoughts. She can finally order what she wants to eat at the restaurant, (mandarin oranges and roast beef, NOT chicken), and can also tell mom what she does and does not want to wear.

“Sometimes itʼs a little painful for Mom,” admits Candice, who struggles

by Dayna Busch, editor sits on the couch watching the large numbers counting down instead of getting frustrated. When it beeps, she closes the Ipad, puts it in her bag and goes out the door.” Other therapies they have tried such as sign language, the Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS) and the Gameboy DS, didnʼt seem to work for Gabrielle. “The best thing weʼve used is the Proloquo2go app [on the Ipad]”, says Candice. “Sheʼs very tactile; she can touch it, slide it with her finger; make it do things.”

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Ipads and AT Resources: Find out the prerequisites for getting assisted technology (AT) provided through the school system, insurance or other funding at http:// w w w. n e c t a c . o r g / t o p i c s / a t e c h / funding.asp

with her little girl growing up before her eyes. She finds it especially painful when Gabrielle expresses her frustration with Candice or others in the family; yet healing when, in her moments of “hurt,” asks Mom for a “hug”. The frustration level has decreased since the Ipad. She can now participate in her classroom, make many of her own choices and communicate with her parents and teachers. “Sheʼs definitely calmer and more mellow,” says Mom. Candice says she really appreciates the Ipadʼs timer. “She tends to be impatient. If we were going somewhere, she would get ready then follow me around and make her ʻangry noiseʼ until we were ready to go. Now I set the timer and tell her, ʻMommy is going to get ready and as soon as the Ipad beeps we are going to walk out the door.ʼ Now Gabrielle

Apps for Children with Special Needs is dedicated to getting Ipads to families and schools who need them. Go to their website to apply and to their FB page to learn more: a4cwsn Many Assisted Living Centers across the state have Assistive Technology rooms where persons can try-out various technology options. For the center near you, go to or call (888)667-2117 Missouri Assistive Technology has the Equipment Technology Consortium (ETC) program which may be able to partner with your school or other organization to “loan” needed equipment. their KAT (Kids Assistive Technology) program provides limited funding which some may qualify for. Go to or call (800) 647-8557

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Missouri Autism Report January