Long time Novita client – Jake is a cheeky, fun, and outgoing 15-year-old boy. Jake has complex communication needs, meaning he relies on methods other than speech as his primary way of communicating. Jake is supported with an app called Proloquo2go on an iPad, which provides a vast selection of images to use as vocabulary, which can be spoken out loud. The use of this augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) device gives Jake freedom, allowing him to communicate what he wants, when he wants and how he wants.
Jake started attending Novita in 2017 and has been receiving occupational therapy and speech pathology support. Since then, he has made significant progress in his communication skills and ability to express thoughts and feelings. His focus and attention have improved greatly, and he is now able to concentrate on activities without getting distracted by the iPad, for example. Jake struggled initially to engage in activities and stay focused, but today he can remain focused, and his communication is much clearer. He can now form longer sentences with new words, using three to four words at a time, such as saying “I want to get a frozen coke”. Jake has also learned to use gestures and body language, such as pointing or touching someone’s shoulder, to assist with communication and getting attention.
Jake’s progress has been very impressive according to Novita speech pathologist Jennifer Custance, who has really noticed the positive impact their speech sessions together have had on his development. Jennifer sees Jake for speech pathology every fortnight at his local school in Christies Beach. “Our sessions are always enjoyable and filled with laughter. I’ve been really impressed by Jake’s willingness to give things a go and his skills for figuring new things out. We have taught him to adapt something if it hasn’t gone the way he’s expected with some support” says Jennifer.
Jennifer has been supporting Jake to expand his communication skills by using more extensive language and building longer sentences. According to Jennifer, Jake actively communicates during their sessions, often making comments and asking questions about why things happen. Jake expresses that he feels supported by Jennifer, who has taught him how to communicate with her. He is now able to express his thoughts and feelings to Jennifer and share his likes and dislikes.
Learning to communicate regularly has benefited Jake outside of speech pathology sessions, where he is engaging more with others, including his family. “I have been able to communicate with my parents and sister, as well as at school” says Jake. Jake’s mum Kathryn is proud of what Jake is achieving in his sessions with Jennifer. “Since 2017, Jake has come a long way communicating and being able to express himself more freely without barriers.” – says Kathryn.
Novita strives to create positive change and make a meaningful impact on our clients. One recent innovative approach we have implemented is the use of educational programs based on The SCERTS (Social Communication Emotional Regulation Transactional Supports) Model. This model is supported by clinical research and provides specific guidelines for supporting individuals, including kids with autism or social learning difficulties.
The SCERTS model is collaborative and person-centered, taking into account the unique perspectives of neurodiverse individuals. It prioritises the needs and preferences of learners based on their context and developmental stage. The goal is to directly address the core challenges faced by kids or individuals with ASD or social learning difficulties and develop their skills. By adopting this approach, we aim to provide consistent and value-driven support to our clients, while also honouring their voices and ensuring the best possible outcomes for everyone involved.
Jennifer believes the implementation of SCERTS has been positive and allowed clients like Jake to be more actively involved in therapy and reach their individual goals faster. Jennifer has observed this with Jake in her speech pathology sessions, where he has developed his independence through initiating activities. “I prioritise connection and relationships first and aim to build a space where clients feel comfortable and safe. This includes different ways of thinking, communicating or being, such as neurodiversity. For example, identifying and discussing special interests the individual may have, setting shared, relevant goals including supports others can provide, and making efforts to support other people in the client’s life to understand and accept them as they are, while supporting skill development in a holistic way.”
SCERTS is all about a shift of perspective that celebrates the talents and advantages clients face with being neurodivergent. Traditional social therapy methods may assess and score certain behaviours, as correct or incorrect, whereas the SCERTS model recognises that there are multiple ways to be, as opposed to one mould and that is okay. An additional focus of this support model is freedom and allowing choice of the client in functional day-to-day activities to develop their independence.
“Jake has introduced a mindfulness activity at the start and end of our session, which involves turning the lights off, lying on the floor and practicing deep breathing” says Jennifer.
Jake’s journey with Novita has been one of remarkable progress and growth. As a long-time client, Jake has found freedom and independence through the use of his AAC. Through understanding more about Jake’s social communication and emotional regulation, Jake and the key people in his life, have been able to work together to support him to achieve his goals. The SCERTS model has guided Jake to take charge of his own supports. The shift in perspective towards embracing neurodivergence has allowed Jake to flourish and develop his independence.
Novita continues to strive for positive change and meaningful impact, honouring the voices of clients like Jake and ensuring the best possible outcomes for everyone involved.
Speech pathology services are available at Novita.
Novita speech pathologists can support with a range of the latest methods and advice to suit your particular situation. This applies not just to babies but also older children and teenagers. Working closely with you and your child, our speech pathologists can help turn a stressful situation into what it should be, a time when you feel good in communicating with your child and comfortable knowing that they are receiving the nourishment they need.
If you would like information or free advice, speak to someone in our friendly team on 1300 668 482 or visit our Contact Us page for more ways to get in touch. Appointments available one-on-one at our hubs, in the home with a therapist, or via Telehealth.