Finally Being Able to Say, “I Love You”

At a very young age, Justin was diagnosed with a genetic disorder. His condition left him unable to express himself verbally; he was only able to produce a few vocalizations and sound approximations.

Justin S. PictureBefore coming to Goodwill’s Assistive Technology Exchange Center, Justin’s only way of communication with his family and friends was through gestures and facial expressions. But Justin had a voice that wanted to come out. He and his family yearned for Justin to be able to express his thoughts and feelings.

At nine years old, Justin was referred to Goodwill of Orange County through his school district for an Augmentative and Alternative Communication Evaluation. It was here that Justin was introduced to his first communication device.

“The expert staff at Goodwill’s Assistive Technology Exchange Center walked Justin and our family through the entire process, from the evaluation to determine which communication device was best for him, to training him and our family on how to use the new device properly,” said Justin’s mother, Carla.

The communication device and hands-on training and learning at the Assistive Technology Exchange Center has opened Justin up to a whole new world of communicating. His device has helped Justin learn 500 new words to add to his vocabulary. These words allow him to interact with his family and give him the confidence to meet and talk to his friends.

Justin can now make specific choices for foods he wants to eat and places he wants to go. Justin has also found a new love for giving directions to places. His grandmother has reported that he has become quite the backseat driver telling her which way to turn and whether the light is red or green.

Justin continues to learn and say new words and phrases each day. In fact, he has demonstrated enough success that last year he was moved up to a higher school level on his device.

After several years of being non-verbal, Justin is finally able to express his needs and share his favorite color. He likes to engage in conversation about his day and ask others about theirs. He can share his feelings. And he is finally able to say one of his favorite phrases to his family and friends – “I love you.”

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