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Kaleb was diagnosed when he was 3 years old in 2007 with non verbal autism.
Kaleb had very little access to outside speech therapies in his home state and the school he attended said that he could not use an Ipad in class. At 11 years old Kaleb was still completely non verbal.
While on a grant trip of an Autism on the Seas cruise Kaleb and his family met Raven Pyle-McCrackyn, AAC4ME’s president and founder. She immediately took an interest in Kaleb, who clearly had a lot to say! She and his family began to plan on how to get Kaleb to CLASS INC. in Tacoma, Washington.
Funds were raised and Kaleb came to CLASS INC. and Vashon Island to have a 3-week immersive AAC experience and intensive SLP therapies with Paula Herrington and her staff. Kaleb attended for 6 hours a day, 5 days a week, for 3 weeks total.
At the end of each session Kaleb’s loved ones were updated and filled in on his progress and his successes. They were given examples of things they could take from what he had learned during the day at CLASS INC to reinforce it on the island. He was constantly building skills, even outside of the therapy rooms.
Kaleb also began attending community outings with therapists at CLASS INC. He went to the zoo with his Ipad pre-programmed so that he could see the animal and then say the animal with his own voice! He began ordering foods and navigating the community on Vashon with his voice device always with him.
Very early on Kaleb’s family got their first big glimpse of his abilities when at the end of a long day, he used his Ipad to say he was tired! This was a thing Kaleb had never been able to express before.
Kaleb’s family took a lot from their experience with CLASS INC. They say that it was very intense at times, but that it was always worth it. They also say the time on Vashon Island and away from home helped them to stay focused on the enormous things that they were accomplishing.
Today Kaleb’s Ipad stays with him in school at all times! The staff at school are no more allowed to take his voice away from him than they would be able to tape a verbal child’s mouth shut for talking in class. Kaleb having his voice accessible at all times, is his basic right!