Strong Advocacy Changes Kid’s Lives


When my daughter was in second grade, she was virtually non-verbal. She made sounds, but could not speak intelligibly. Most people couldn’t understand her at all. Our family understood her minimally because we kind of understood her “code”.

Westport schools had her using a little device, called a “dynavox” which would say rote phrases in a robotic voice like “my name is Jenny” and “I am hungry”. It was not very helpful, and she seldom used it. I had requested that the school spend more time teaching my daughter to talk, and less time teaching her to use the dynavox device.

They insisted they were experts and the speech language pathologist had a doctorate in speech and language etc. They knew what was best, and teaching my daughter to use this device was the “right” thing to do. They insisted that she has so much to say, and the device was the way to give her a voice

I wasn’t convinced. So, we hired a private speech pathologist to work with Jenny. After the private speech pathologist met with my daughter a couple of times, she was certain that my daughter would be able to talk on her own. She noted that she had all the sounds, she just needs to use them correctly.

Within four months, my daughter was speaking on her own and most people could understand her about 80% of the time. This was a huge gain. At that point, we had a PPT meeting at which Westport schools finally realized that the dynavox was not appropriate and Jenny should be given speech and language to continue to help her speak.

The private speech pathologist we hired helped and encouraged my daughter to speak and be fully communicative with others. If we had left it to Westport, she very likely would have remained unable to talk and dependent on a speech box.

This is why strong advocacy and action for our kids is vital.


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