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Posted: 9th October 2018
The Sycamore Trust UK launched the SWAP programme (Speak With A Picture) in September 2018. The launch was attended by our patron, Dame Margaret Hodge, MP for Barking & Dagenham, but the star of the show was a young mother, who spoke passionately about how the Trust’s work had helped her son. This is her story.
My name is Harsharan and I have been blessed with an incredible son, Harvel, who is five years old. When Harvel was six months old, he could name all his colours, animals and shapes using flash cards, then at ten months old, he lost his speech and his ability to communicate and as a result his development ceased. When he started nursery at two years old he was completely non-verbal and unable to walk. He would mainly communicate with tantrums and meltdowns or by taking my hand and leading us to what he wanted. I felt completely helpless; I just wanted him to be able to communicate his needs and wants. I was happy being his voice and his spokesperson, but at the same time it was breaking my heart to see him so frustrated.
Then came along the fairy godmother of communication, entitled PECS (Picture Exchange Communication System)®
I was able to bring him to the Sycamore Trust for the Way2Say programme, which preceded SWAP. Harvel always loved bubbles and that symbol seemed like the perfect way to start. We were shown with such a great level of care and support how to help our son express his needs. I will never ever forget the day when I heard my son’s beautiful little voice asking for bubbles as well as using PECS, it truly melted my heart.
We are so grateful that we have another form of communication for our son to use. Harvel is now in year 1 of full time mainstream school, with 30 hours support. He’s still using PECS as his chosen way to communicate and the school are happy to support him with this.
This was such a breakthrough, both for Harvel and for us as a family. If there is a different way to help teach and develop speech, let this way be your way.