The Children's Institute Blog

Transition Tuesday: Dylan and The School Store

Posted: Mar 27, 2018 by The Children's Institute

A girl walks up to the School Store counter with a handful of candy.

“That costs 95 cents,” the cashier responds.

The voice you now are imagining is not Dylan Dzikowski, the School Store cashier and a student at The Day School at The Children’s Institute, but, instead, that of ACCENT 1000, an Augmentative Alternative Communication (AAC) device he controls simply by moving his eyes.

Dylan, a transition-age student at The Day School at The Children’s Institute of Pittsburgh, is considered nonverbal but, but, thanks to his AAC device, he is rather chatty. Dylan is quick to tell you his name and his love for Netflix and video games. And what does he like about working through The Day School’s transition program in the School Store, a convenience store-style space in The Children’s Institute’s Squirrel Hill campus?

“People,” he smiles and says with his AAC eye-gaze device.

Dylan used to have to hit a switch to express basic wants and needs; the work was hard for him and communications were sluggish. But, he describes his new AAC eye gaze device in terms with exclamation marks: “Fast, faster!”

Dylan’s school speech/language pathologist, Jen Rockwood, said the new eye gaze device has opened a whole new world of communication to Dylan. Dylan initially had to learn how to use ACCENT 1000 during structured therapy sessions.
However, as part of his Transition Services, Dylan is able to practice generalizing his communication skills during interactions with customers while he is working at the School Store. Jenn went on to explain that Dylan’s AAC eye-gaze device is also helping her to get to know him better.

“He has so much to say and the ACCENT 1000 has enabled him to communicate more effectively with others. It has been so fun learning more about Dylan’s personality and his interests – WWE, AC/DC, and Impractical Jokers, to name a few.”

“Working with Dylan in real-life settings has helped me understand what messages Dylan may need more exposure to, as well as messages that may need to be added to his device,” Jenn said. “Seeing first-hand his interactions in various community and school settings help me understand how I can help him communicate more effectively. Dylan has taught me so much about perseverance, oldies music, and eye gaze. I look forward to seeing where Dylan will go with his device in the future.”

For more information on transition and JobSpan services at The Day School, contact enrollment coordinator Ashley Harland at 412-420-2222.

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