When Sawyer was two years old, he was disconnected from the world. His mom said he whined, cried and lived inside himself. He wouldn’t respond to his name.
“I was providing for him, feeding him, taking care of him and loving him, but there was no growth. He was at a standstill,” his mom, Shawna, said.
Communication is part of everyone’s daily life and when you can’t express your feelings or thoughts, it can be frustrating. Sawyer needed to find his voice and to help him do that, Shawna looked to Heartspring.
Through months of exercises, Sawyer’s communication skills began to improve. First he and Jessica worked on getting him acclimated to therapy. They used a picture schedule to help him figure out his activities. They worked a lot on imitation—making faces and sounds.
Sawyer really took off when he received his augmentative and alternative communication device. First, he had a PECS (Picture Exchange Communication System) system, but both Jessica and Shawna thought he’d benefit from something a little more high-tech. In July 2015, with the help of Children’s Miracle Network, he got an iPad Mini installed with the Proloquo2go system. He hasn’t had much time with the device, but he’s already made big gains. He took to it right away. Navigating it with ease and even finding words and phrases before they were shown to him.
"He has some fantastic potential,” Jessica said. “It’s really exciting. We wouldn’t even know what his potential is without a device. He wouldn’t have a way to communicate to us."
His iPad became the voice he didn’t have before. He can use the program to answer questions, talk about his feelings and communicate. Most importantly, he now has the connection with the world around him. Sawyer is much more engaged. He won the student of the month award at school and has begun playing with kids his own age. He is also able to tell his parents what he thinks of them.
“It was a month before he found the ‘I love you’ button and he said it to his dad.” Shawna said. “It wasn’t like he was playing with all the buttons like he does on a normal basis, it was that his dad was sitting with him and he just pressed the button.”
Now, with his iPad, Sawyer’s world is expanding. The people around him know what he wants or needs, because he can now tell them.
“He’s happier,” Shawna said. “He giggles and laughs more and I can tell when he’s had a great day, because he’s all smiles, something that seemed out of reach not long ago.”