When young people are given the means to communicate for the first time it changes the whole of their life. Andrei’s journey shows just how much difference our help in this area can make. Our partners in Communication Space have been supporting Andrei for 4 years. He is now 15.
Andrei has difficulties with communication, social interaction, and learning difficulties. He is also partially sighted. He used to only repeat certain phrases from favourite cartoons etc, but not using language for communication. He would frequently experience sensory overload and become unable to cope. He would often cry and try to harm himself.
Communication Space have introduced several methods of communicating with Andrei in ways that he can understand and helping him to communicate. He uses visual time-tables, which can help him understand what is going on, and what is going to happen next. This alone has helped make Andrei much less anxious, has helped him follow routines and has reduced his self-harm.
To communicate with others Andrei uses a communication book with symbols in it and a device called a Go Talk. He can put together phrases of 2-3 words with these. It means that he can join in games in the group time, can ask for help, and ask for things he wants.
The affect on Andrei has been remarkable. Not only have the negatives reduced – less self-harm, less anxiety, less sensory overload – but he is now able to use the toilet, has started spontaneously saying a few words that connect to what he is doing, and has even discovered new interests like dancing and listening to singing.
The techniques which have helped Andrei so much are not widely known about in Russia. Communication Space is trying to change that by running seminars in Moscow and online, being active online, and translating alternative communication resources into Russian. We are helping to fund this vital work.