By Goya Dmytryshchak
Eight-year-old William Tagg, who has Down syndrome, has progressed in leaps and bounds since he was linked in to the National Disability Insurance Scheme.
The Spotswood Primary School pupil is in mainstream education using augmentative and alternative communication to enhance his speech, such as tapping on pictures and words on a tablet and using signage.
Mum, Sharon Tagg, credits William’s improvements to Gateways Support Services’ speech therapist and occupational therapist, the school’s integration aides, and his new communication device.
“We’ve just seen such huge progress in his learning and development, so now being able to trace his name and count to 10,” she said.
When she and husband Rob went to enrol William, Ms Tagg said the school could not have opened up its doors more.
“The whole school community has embraced William,” she said.
“The school has a year book. The last two years, William’s been on the front or back cover.
“He’s got friends that are grade sixes that he’s connected in with.
“The school’s embraced having the OT and … the speech therapist getting William onto the iPad device; the aides that they’ve employed – I could not have asked for a better school.”
Ms Tagg said the tablet had helped William to communicate and learn new words – sometimes even to get out of doing things like putting away toys.
“William’s a very happy little boy, he’s just got one of those personalities … he draws people in,” she said.
“He’s always got a smile on his face, he’s very sociable, he’s very affectionate.
“We’ve never used words like ‘frustrated’, ‘sad’ or ‘sick’.
“William has learnt words we never really taught him, like ‘sad’ and ‘sick’, so now he’s trying to put one over us when he doesn’t want to do something.
“He’ll say ‘sick’ and it’s come from the tablet.”
To encourage William’s speech, the tablet is loaded with some of his favourite things, like mini-golf, water sports and the movie Jaws.
“He absolutely loves everything Jaws and sharks,” Ms Tagg said.
“When he goes out on our boat, he tells us he’s got to stop because he’s got to look for Jaws.”