WINNIPEG — Unlike some teenagers, fifteen-year-old Hailey Augustine can’t wait for the school year to begin.
But that might not have always have been the case.
At two years of age, Hailey was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). She is functionally non-verbal, but finds ways to communicate her immediate wants and needs more effectively than ever now after working with a special iPad.
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Four years ago the Augustine family connected with Variety, the Children’s Charity and that’s when the approved funding for her iPad went through.
At first the family wasn’t sure what type of electronic device would be best suited for Hailey and her needs, but the iPad came up as the clear front runner.
“They sent us right to the Apple store in Polo Park and we were taken care of very well there to help her out,” Kevin Augustine, Hailey’s father said.
Now, an expert in everything electronic, the communication gap between Hailey and her parents is beginning to close.
“She does have some words and she can communicate some things, and by having a picture there or video it just gives her that little bit of extra to help her come across to us what happened in her day.” Wendy Augustine, Hailey’s mom said.
Not only does the device help her relate to her family, but it’s helped bridge that gap between those that she’s not as comfortable with and that’s a comfort to Kevin and Wendy.
“Learners that are on that ASD spectrum have difficulties with expression so having a conversation may seem very scripted, and they’re not really sure where to go next. So using those photos and videos of things we’ve shared together is an excellent way to talk.” said Andrea Sward, Hailey’s student support teacher.
The iPad uses specially designed software and also helps the teen with math, spelling, as well as learning about life skills such as money.
Sward said she is going to miss the smiling, cheerful ways of one of her most prized students as she embarks on life in a new school.
“I know she’s off to high school this year and it’s hard for me to, to see her off because she’s such a big part of my everyday.” Sward said.