Our daughter Ellie has a lovely personality, she loves music, and stories; She laughs a lot, especially if we sneeze, cough, trip, or knock something over. She has Myotonic Dystrophy and Cerebral Palsy so cannot roll over, cannot sit, or stand. She spends her time lying either on her tummy, or on her back on a special pressure relief mattress. She can say two or three words, and can let you know if she doesn’t want something.
Ellie attended a very good school for children with special needs, but is now ‘grown up’ having left school years ago. At school, she had very committed classroom staff, who took advice from the school Speech and Language Therapist, but at that time children were not seen individually, so Ellie has never had individual access to a speech and language therapist.
We came across a ‘Big Mac’ at a parent group, and we could see many possibilities for Ellie to use this – so we immediately bought a bright yellow one for her, and our eldest son painted the surround black so that she might see it better. We used it to play games, and to sing (and she was able to press it and finish the last line of a song herself). We also sent it into school each day with our news, and they sent it back with news of their school day, and Ellie was able to ‘press’ and tell us about what she had done…… and many years have passed since then.
Then, I met SAM and WOW -
Sam has a great deal of knowledge, skill and understanding with regard to ‘communication’ for children and people with complex needs.
I asked Sam if she could help us with Ellie, and she came to our home to assess her.
Sam spent time playing with Ellie, finding out what she understood, what she was interested in, what movement she had and didn’t have, how she might access switches and technology.
Sam then wrote us a very long and thorough report.
Samantha was key to George securing AAC Hub assessment for potential funding for a voice output communication aid. She was dedicated to George's needs including specialist seating, switch access and mounting and supported the team around George to understand how important technology would be for him to reach his full potential. George was unable to use eye gaze due to his eye sight and head position. George can now use one switch using his head and one switch using his arm as a back up. George can linear scan four options and control other devices such as a Step by Step and Power Link to control lights, radio and George even took part in his school play. Samantha saw potential in George others didn't see and fought for him to get the services he needed.
Rachel and Alison, OT Team NHS
Switch Clinic Set up and training
Samantha is passionate about technology and supporting people with complex needs to access it using a switch. During her role with us she trained the team in use of switches and early communication aids, gained funding for a switch assessment kit for the department and set up a specialist switch access assessment clinic where both families and their key therapist attended. This approach meant both family and therapist were on the journey together and felt confident to develop these essential skills in our young clients. Samantha worked with the most complex of clients and was dedicated to finding a solution for each of them. She wrote specialist detailed reports to share with the whole team and used these to secure funding for technology through our local AAC hub.