River Raven Cropper is a 13-year old diagnosed with Autism.
Recently our family had the opportunity to explore the Talk To Me Technologies Wego A communication device during a trial loan period without cost or risk. This device trial was specifically for my son, River Raven Cropper, who is a 13 year old with a diagnosis of moderate to severe autism and functional mental retardation, the latter based largely on the fact that he cannot communicate effectively enough to accurately test his cognitive abilities. But this device is not only for him, but for all of the people who compose his “care family:” his parents, brother, teacher, pediatrician, dentist, paraprofessionals, respite workers, and friends (especially those as yet unmet). This device is for River and all of the people who can potentially help River if he can communicate his needs.
River enjoyed using his Wego A in multiple school, community and home settings. Many of these events were amusing, surprising and emotional. One such event stands out as an extraordinary example:
Father’s Day, June 19th of 2016, also River’s father’s birthday. The party atmosphere of celebration had infected our domicile, and River paced from one room to another singing his happy-babble and flapping, checking on each of us. His brother, Winter, talked excitedly to his Dad as I prepared cake, ice cream and beverages.
When we were ready to sing and celebrate, I took River and his Wego A to his bedroom and talked to him softly about creating a message for his father because it was such a double special day. With much nodding and echolalic repeating of key conversational words River “agreed” with my idea, and I composed the following complex sentence using tabs I had created the day before: “Happy Father’s Day; Happy Birthday; I love you, Daddy!” I asked River if he wanted to “tell” daddy this message and he nodded, saying, “Tell!”
River carried the device to the table, set it down and pointed to it while looking at his father. I showed him where he had to tap it to make it talk and said, “Go ahead.” River reached out and tapped this message grinning like he had just pulled off one of his cookie heists and nodding. Tears formed in his father’s eyes, not to mention my own, as his dad pulled him into a hug of pride and hope, saying, “Thank you, River. Never give up trying to communicate, Buddy.” River giggled and babbled and pulled back to look at his dad, then he reached out and patted his dad, saying (verbally), “I’m happy!”
We laughed and cried and agreed with him. As far as I know, this was the first time River had ever verbalized these words. River’s father had been skeptical about the device prior to this trial, just another gadget in a long line of gadgets, therapies and programs designed to help his son communicate. He didn’t have much hope in it. But after this most special demonstration, his father commented that maybe this device really could help him. Maybe it was time to try once more. Maybe we could dream again of knowing what thoughts played through the mind behind those big, blue eyes.
~Sherri Lynn Cropper, Proud Mother of River Raven Cropper
- August 17, 2016
- Talk To Me Technologies