Turning every opportunity into an adventure
At a glance, Rory is the embodiment of a typical 10 year old boy – brimming with energy as he indulges in soccer, basketball, biking, and playful tussles with his older brother. Yet, his first decade was filled with milestones that were far from the typical, including the ability to blow out his birthday candles. This accomplishment, achieved on his 10th birthday, marked a significant triumph.
Diagnosed with a neurological disability from infancy, early signs like vision challenges and delayed physical milestones, pointed to a unique developmental path.
“We noticed when he was a couple of months old that his vision wasn’t very good and we were sent to start having tests done,” explains his mum, Katrina.
“Initially, there were lots of physical signs. He couldn’t hold his head up until he was about two, and he didn’t start crawling until he was about four or five.”
“When he was little, he needed specialised seating to support him so he could sit up to eat safely and swallow correctly, and he used a walking frame that supported him so he could “scoot” his legs along the ground,” continued Katrina.
Rory gradually transitioned from being supported with the assistance of a Nimbo walker, promoting his mobility and independence, including travelling to school.
“Rory attends a specialist education school which he loves,” says Katrina.
“He loves being on the bus and looking out the window, and the bus driver normally has songs playing so they sing the whole way there and back as well. And when he gets to school, he says hello to everyone as he enters the building, and everyone says hello to him.”
Therapy and techno tools
When Rory was younger, the introduction of the NDIS early childhood approach offered him tailored supports. Therapies, such as occupational therapy, speech pathology, and physiotherapy, were pivotal at that stage. Rory’s goals drove the focus of these supports, evolving with his needs.
“He had physio and occupational therapy and speech from early on. As needed over time, we’ve been able to change the supports he’s been having so he can work on what he’d like to achieve,” Katrina explains.
Recently, Rory’s goals to communicate more effectively became paramount. Through his NDIS funding he was able to embrace (AAC) tools. Devices like the Proloquo2Go app and PODD (Pragmatic Organisation Dynamic Display) have been game-changers, offering symbols and words to bolster his communication. Proloquo2Go is an easy-to-use communication app for people who cannot speak or need help being understood. Featuring natural sounding voices, including real children’s voices, it’s a simple yet powerful AAC tool.
With tech on his side, Rory’s linguistic skills have flourished, and he’s now able to articulate in small sentences of three to four words.
Tech empowering classroom chats
Rory’s schooling journey has been beneficial socially and emotionally, and it has been enriched with technology, with the Proloquo2Go program aiding his classroom interactions too. His responsiveness and accuracy using this program have surprised and delighted educators.
“The teacher can ask a question verbally and he can use the program to answer. It’s a great way for him to engage in his learning and express what he wants and needs. It also reduces frustration when others don’t understand him.”
“His speech is still improving – we probably understand him better than others. But now that he’s got enough speech, he can direct us and show us what he’s trying to talk about.”
“He can also now engage in family conversations and ask how everyone’s day has been. Open communication and connection are cherished in our close family so this has been quite special.”
Brotherly bond and adventures
Rory’s bond with his 12-year-old brother, Zane, exemplifies brotherly love. Their shared passions include swimming and gaming on the Xbox. Rory’s recent achievements in shooting hoops, backed by Zane’s training and encouragement, underscore his determined spirit.
“Now that he’s got a couple in, he thinks he’s pretty good,” jokes Katrina.
Cherished by all
Katrina lovingly describes Rory as a “happy little, bubbly thing.” His sociable nature makes it easy to cherish him.
“He loves all of our friends’ kids and they all love him, and he chats away to them, and they chat to him – he loves it,” says Katrina.
This spirit spills into Rory’s other pursuits – swimming lessons, school swimming trips, biking adventures, 4-wheel drives, and family vacations in their caravan. For Rory, these aren’t mere activities but avenues for adventure and cherished social interactions.
With his family’s support, tailored therapies, and technological aids, Rory’s not just navigating life – he’s thriving in it.
With the right Goods, Equipment and Assistive Technology (GEAT) life can be a great adventure. Click here to find your nearest Local Area Coordinator if you feel GEAT might benefit you.