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Dalen’s Story: Finding His Voice

Dalen’s Story: Finding His Voice

I’d like to introduce you to Dalen. He is an adorable seven year old and is part of a large family. He has an infectious smile and eyes that sparkle. Due to a spinal cord injury at birth and some complex medical needs, he is ventilator-dependent and has very limited mobility. He is non-verbal and, until a few months ago, his only way of communicating was with facial expressions.

Like many other children, youth and adults supported by St.Amant, Dalen needs a special device to communicate. There is a government program that helps to provide these types of devices for adults,
but, shockingly there is no such funding for those under 18. Your gift today will give a child a voice!

The importance of providing kids with the tools they need to communicate is undeniable. Without access to the right equipment, expressing their needs or wants to their family and care team is very difficult, and not being able to share their thoughts or feelings can be frustrating. Communication is a fundamental human need.

Lindsay, his Speech-Language Pathologist, works with children and youth supported by St.Amant. She admits, finding the right tools for Dalen was a challenge. Dalen’s limited movement meant that smiles, grimaces and sassy side eyes (he is rather famous for those) were the only way he could make his feelings known.

His support team could tell that Dalen understood far more language than he could articulate, so Lindsay’s goal was to find a device that would give him the opportunity to express his needs, make choices and share information with his family and care providers.

After weeks of trying different devices, testing and practice, it was determined that the Eye-Gaze Mobile Mini Speech Generating Device was the one Dalen had the most success with.

This device tracks Dalen’s eye movements and allows him to move the computer cursor with just his gaze. The technology is amazing.

Like so much of the specialized equipment needed by people with disabilities, the device itself, along with the appropriate software applications and hardware needed to make it accessible for him, came at an extraordinarily high cost. This was an unmanageable expense for Dalen’s family.

Your generosity funded this equipment for Dalen, and his family and care providers are so grateful. Dad Dalton says “He’ll be able to choose things and tell us how he’s feeling. That has never happened before.”

Dalen is just learning how to use his new device. His favourite app is a target practice game and, like many seven year olds, he loves to show off his gaming skills. Play is fundamental to the human experience, and is the key to learning.

As he gets more practice and improves his dexterity, his ability to communicate will grow.

This will:

  • improve his quality of life
  • increase his independence
  • decrease the frustration he feels when he isn’t being understood
  • empower him to start conversations about things he is interested in
  • enable him to share valuable information about his body such as pain or discomfort

Dalen is just one of the children supported by St.Amant that would benefit from a specialized communication device.

Your gift today can help a child find their voice, express their feelings and make decisions about their own life. 

You can make an amazing difference in a child’s life! You can donate on our secure website at stamant.ca/voice.

With much appreciation,

Juliette Mucha



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