Eight-year-old Mikaela is a big sister to Olivia. She is a happy, cheerful girl who enjoys spending time with other children, listening to music, watching videos on her iPad and listening to stories about her favourite people. She also loves toys, looking through photobooks and enjoys action songs and dancing.
Mikaela has complex communication needs, which means that she communicates in a range of ways other than speech including pointing, gestures, some signs, pictures and a communication device.
Mikaela’s mum Becky said Mikaela’s wellbeing, development, independence and happiness is central to their family’s plans, and communication plays a big part in this.
To support her communication development, Mikaela has been working together with ILC Speech Pathologist Tanith Brien for the past year and a half.
“Communicating when you can’t speak can be a big challenge, both for the individual themselves and for the people they interact with. Giving Mikaela a ‘voice’ contributes greatly to her life, in that it helps her to build relationships, share her thoughts and feelings, participate in learning and be more independent and happy.” said Tanith.
“I’ve been fortunate to be able to support Mikaela to develop her communication using her AAC device, a Liberator Rugged 7.
“This has been a terrific communication support for Mikaela and it’s great to see how much progress she’s made over the past year. She’s now able to request play dates with her friends, share her favourite news, talk about her routine as well as request foods, toys and activities.”
Becky said Mikaela has made significant gains in her communication skills over the past year.
“Both my husband David and I are so proud of Mikaela’s accomplishments. She has gotten to where she is today through hard work and perseverance.
“We also feel fortunate to have Tanith supporting us with implementing this device. She ensures that she continues to push Mikaela to the next step when using her device when she has accomplished her previous goal.
“For example, Mikaela used to tap on her friend ‘Izzy’ repeatedly, whereas now she has learned to tap ‘Izzy friend house’ to say that she wants a play date at Izzy’s house. This is pretty amazing for all of us, and she is clearly delighted when we respond to her requests,” said Becky.
“We definitely require a lot of support in teaching it to her, as there is an entire person’s vocabulary on it, so we need to be quite dedicated in our approach to teaching and learning with it.
“I know that Mikaela has a lot of potential and needs a lot of support to realise it.
“With the support we have been able to access, this communication support being one small, but vital, component, we know she can do it,” said Becky.
Through ILC’s Community Allied Health Services you can access speech pathology services in your home, school, workplace or community. Our experienced speech pathologists will work with you to achieve your goals. Find out more here or by calling (08) 9382 0200.