Allison smiles while sitting outside

Goal: Increased Communication Ability; Greater Independence

Overcoming many barriers, Allison Thompkins is a true example of what perseverance and determination look like. Living with cerebral palsy since birth, she has defied expectations, achieved academic success, and became a leading advocate for accessibility and inclusion. Allison’s journey is not just about overcoming physical barriers; it’s about embracing spirituality, empowering others, and living life to the fullest. Allison’s introduction to Easterseals Massachusetts (ESMA) and the Assistive Technology (AT) Program came at a pivotal moment in her life. With cerebral palsy, she faces the daily challenges of limited mobility, speech difficulties, and coordination issues. Through ESMA's swimming program and summer camps when she was younger, she discovered a community that embraced her abilities and provided essential support. This early connection laid the foundation for Allison’s lifelong partnership with Easterseals, culminating in her access to life-changing assistive technology. AT has been instrumental in Allison’s academic and professional pursuits due to each device opening new opportunities. Among her many successes, Allison holds a doctorate from MIT and has served as an economics consultant to agencies around the world.

In her most recent work with ESMA, Allison worked with Jamie M., a Speech and Language Pathologist and Augmentative Communication Specialist in the MRC Assistive Technology Independent Living (IL) Program. After an initial evaluation, Jamie determined that Allison’s outdated eye gaze device caused immense fatigue that impacted her daily life and independence. ESMA helped Allison obtain a new eye gaze communication device, a communication board, and a switch-adapted phone, so she can communicate when having difficulty speaking and have smoother connectivity to both social media and texting. The communication device also enables Allison to control her environment to aid in daily living with things like turning on a lamp and turning up the heat, all by moving her eyes. Jamie explained that Allison uses word and phrase prediction to increase her speed. “She is the most proficient eye gaze user I have ever seen, she is super focused on her goals, and a lot of fun to work with.

ESMA staff continues to play a crucial role in Allison’s journey, providing technological solutions, constant support, and encouragement. From securing adaptive equipment for her education and career to finding innovative solutions for her communication needs, ESMA staff members consistently go above and beyond to empower Allison to achieve her goals with confidence and independence. She said, “Over the years, I’ve worked with a few AT and IL Easterseals staff members, and the level of dedication, brilliance, and passion exhibited by every staff member is unparalleled and a trademark of Easterseals Massachusetts."

Allison is a member of the ESMA State Board of Directors who knows the value of our services. She recently achieved one of her most significant goals by publishing her first book, Spirituality Is for Every Body. The book combines her personal experiences with spirituality and disability advocacy. Inspired by her journey and the lack of resources addressing spirituality and disability, Allison’s book fills this gap by offering practical guidance and inspiration for others to live more joyful and fulfilling lives. We are grateful that she is donating a portion of her proceeds to ESMA!

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