Success & News Stories

Brittany Happ

Finding a Voice
Like most of us, Brittany has her own way of sharing what’s on her mind with the rest of the world. Though organizing her thoughts is especially challenging because of her autism, Brittany can count on those close to her – and her DynaVox MT4 – to provide the security and structure she needs to feel comfortable expressing herself. Brittany, who is non-verbal, started trying out communication devices when she was 11. She took well to the DynaMyte 3100 that her speech therapist recommended, quickly grasping the concept of linking pages on the device to talk about things that are important to her—her daily routine, favorite foods and what she likes to do for fun, to name a few. Brittany’s recent transition from the DynaMyte to the MT4 was seamless.

Significant people in Brittany’s life
Parents Lisa and David, and twin sister Brooke, who faithfully programs the weekly school lunch menu into Brittany’s MT4 on Sundays. When the Happs go to a fast food restaurant, Brooke assists Brittany at the beverage and condiment bar. Now that the girls are teenagers, Brooke looks after Brittany when their parents take a break.

Brittany’s classmates are also important to her – especially those whose photographs appear on the “Circle of Friends” page that David created for her MT4. The “Circle of Friends” program at Unity Junior High School in the Unit 7 School District near rural Tolono, Illinois allows Brittany, who spends most of the school day in special education classes, to spend time socializing with peers in the regular education program. When they play board games, phrases such as “Your Turn,” “My Turn” and “Next” on the “Circle of Friends” page come in handy. Brittany’s “Personal Information” page lets her tell new friends where she lives, the names of her family members and other facts about herself.

Thanks to the caring teachers and school aides who work hand in hand with her parents to guide her through the process of discovering language—and her unique voice—Brittany is doing well in school. Their support and the many pages of single words on her MT4, are “the single biggest reason that her reading skills have increased over the last year or so,” said David Happ, who created the pages.

It is a real benefit for Brittany to see each word spelled out and hear it sounded out when she selects the corresponding communication button. Her development of literacy skills is like a miracle to her family and care team. They did not know that Brittany possessed the ability to read before she used a communication device.

Meeting Challenges
Brittany relies on her MT4 in a variety of situations. She thrives on keeping busy, and uses her “Time,” “Calendar” and “Daily Schedule” pages to keep track of all she has to do. Her “Wednesday” page links to a special schedule page that she can use to discuss the mid-week community outings to the supermarket, department stores and the post office that she enjoys. The outings, part of the special education curriculum, give Brittany the opportunity to practice making purchases. Her parents plan to link the page with her “Lunch” and “Restaurant” pages to make it easier for her to order meals when she goes out to eat with her classmates.

David and Lisa Happ also created an “Exercise” page by importing photographs of the equipment that Brittany uses in her exercise program at school. The page helps her to follow along with the other children in the program.

Just Havin' Fun
In her free time, Brittany likes to watch videos, sort and string beads, and create things with toy building sets.

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