Dr. Gwynette: Hello, my name is Dr. Frampton Gwynette, and welcome to this production of the Autism News Network. I’m here today with Jack Muirhead and his father, Dave, from the Beautiful Gate Foundation. So welcome guys.
Dave Muirhead: Thank you.
Dr. Gwynette: Hi, dad.
Dave Muirhead: Good to be here.
Dr. Gwynette: Hi, Jack. Nice to see you. So Jack, I blew it. What’s your name, sir?
Dave Muirhead: Tell him what your name is.
Dr. Gwynette: This computer is really neat.
Dave Muirhead: It is neat. It’s life-changing for him, really. Because he’s nonverbal he has no way to express himself, and now that he has this device, he has words that the device can speak for him. He’s being a little bit shy right now.
Dr. Gwynette: That’s okay.
Dave Muirhead: He’s … Right here. You can do it. Ready?
Dr. Gwynette: He’s thinking.
Dave Muirhead: Do it. Go.
Jack Muirhead: I am 12 years old.
Dr. Gwynette: Wonderful. And where do you live?
Jack Muirhead: I live in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina.
Dr. Gwynette: Wow, that’s excellent. This computer is so cool because it has little places where fingers fit, and in each place that the finger can press into is a phrase.
Dave Muirhead: Yeah. There are icons that are basically word families. So, for example, he has an icon that’s an apple, and the apple represents food, eating, anything related to different types of foods. So at the top he has all the different types of cuisines, so he can say for lunch that maybe he wants-
Jack Muirhead: Macaroni and cheese.
Dave Muirhead: … mac and cheese, or something like that. So he has areas where his toys are. He has buttons that are about his body. He can tell us now if he has a headache or if he doesn’t feel well. And until he had this device, he never had the ability to tell us, even if he wasn’t feeling well. If he had a headache or any of those kinds of things. He uses a lot of nonverbal gestures to communicate, but this allows him to have the ability to actually speak to people in a way that we call functional communication. Meaning anybody can understand it because the device speaks for him.
Dr. Gwynette: Got you. So, you know, whereas his parents might know what it means if he’s tapping or if he’s doing some other gesture, anyone can understand when he makes that phrase.
Dave Muirhead: Exactly.
Dr. Gwynette: Okay. That’s a great tool.