Zeke Kittinger is now a fifth grader at South Elementary School in Hingham, MA, but he was a preschooler when he first started working with Easterseals Massachusetts. Zeke is on the Autism Spectrum and is a smart, funny, book-loving student who loves his family and his dog. He also happens to be someone who uses Augmentative Communication (AAC). Kristi Peak-Oliveira, speech-language pathologist and Augmentative Communication specialist, has been covering the Hingham district for many years. When she first met Zeke as a preschooler, he was completely non-verbal and the preschool team was just getting to know him. He received an Augmentative Communication Evaluation which resulted in an iPad-based system with the communication app, Proloquo2Go.
Over the years, with ongoing support from his family and various school teams, Zeke’s vocabulary grew from requesting only a few highly desired items (like black crayons) to expanding use of his AAC system for expressive communication - and more. He developed an interest in books and used the keyboard in Proloquo2Go to create spelling lists and participate in other academic activities to develop literacy. As a fifth grader, Zeke spends his time in a dedicated special needs classroom as well as in mainstream classrooms with his typically developing peers. He uses his iPad with Proloquo2Go not only for expressive communication, accessing language functions such asking questions, commenting and sharing information, but also for curriculum access and taking part in school activities. For example, Zeke recently used his AAC system to lead the school in the Pledge of Allegiance over the loudspeaker as part of morning announcements.Proloquo2Go has a text to speech feature, and in addition to spelling lists Zeke also uses the available keyboard to answer questions during academic activities and copy text from books so the app will read the content back to him. He discovered this ability to read books to himself all on his own!
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One of the most exciting developments in terms of using AAC came about when his current school team was wondering how to help Zeke participate in Spanish class. With Proloquo2Go it is possible to set up different user profiles, including different languages. Kristi suggested creating a profile - known as “Spanish Zeke” - and now Zeke is using this profile to participate fully in his Spanish class.
Zeke has come so far over the years and is an incredible example of how AAC can not only support expressive communication but curriculum access as well. Zeke will move on to middle school next year, and Easterseals will continue to support him and his use of AAC. Easterseals can’t wait to see what is next for this amazing student!