When he speaks, he tends to drop the final sounds of words. If the listener doesn’t know the context of his comment, it can be difficult for them to get what Dominick wants to say.
When he was very young, his limited speech meant that he could make requests, but struggled to express himself further. He started using AAC technology when he was seven years old, and now he’s able to fully express himself much more easily. He can ask questions, tell stories and make connections.
Dominick lives with his aunt, uncle and his dog Cody. At home, Dominick likes riding his bike around the neighborhood, playing video games on his Xbox 360 and watching anime. He’s also really responsible. He has chores at home, like taking out the trash, walking the dog, and helping in the kitchen. He likes to keep his room clean.
At school, Dominick likes when other students take the time to listen to him speak or use his device, so he can express himself and be heard. Dominick’s favorite class is art, where he draws anything that comes to mind. He doesn’t have a girlfriend because he wants to focus on his grades, but he has a lot of friends, especially his football teammates. Dominick is planning on going to community college and continue playing football. He would like to study art, but he’s not sure what kind of work he’d like to do after he graduates.
Dominick started out using symbol-based AAC on an iPad. However, he didn’t like carrying around such a big device. His team switched him to an iPad mini in middle school, which he preferred. When Dominick started high school, he once again became resistant to carrying the device around, so they decided to go for a handheld device.
By this time, Dominick was also getting much better with spelling, so his speech therapist looked into switching Dominick to a text-based system. He was already used to spelling out words to make himself clear, so she felt it would be a good time to try something new.
When they started working on Proloquo4Text, Dominick and his therapist created sentences together to store in Quick Talk, using slang so Dominick could sound like the other kids at school. He took to the iPod right away and carries it around everywhere. Dominick chose the Scott voice, as he feels it sounds the most like him. Sometimes he jokes around with the Bad Guy voice. Dominick would benefit from a more robust flexible spelling predictor due to his intellectual disability and diminished spelling capabilities.
In addition to being able to communicate for different purposes, Proloquo4Text has also helped Dominick develop a larger vocabulary. Before his device, he would mostly use words that he could sound out. Because of this, he didn’t use longer words often. Now Dominick can talk about anything. Even if it’s not spelled correctly, most of his friends understand what he is saying just by looking at a few letters he typed. The only thing his speech therapist wishes is that Proloquo4Text could take mistakes better into account to improve its prediction engine.
Dominick can also use AAC to send messages to other students in a text message, email or post on social media – like most everyone else. Using AAC has really opened up his world.