Eric Duquette never spoke a word until he was five years old due to a severe form of Autism. Doctors warned his parents early on that the child would likely end up institutionalized due to his condition. The couple refused to accept that fate for their son, and worked with him every day on his speech and other motor skills. Recently, Eric graduated from high school in Rhode Island as the class Salutatorian. The speech in front of friends, family and classmates was humorous and touching.
At the beginning, Eric remarked that “Experts said I would end up in an institution. My parents thought differently. Today, I stand before you accepted into every institution of higher learning that I applied to. So in a way, I guess the experts were right about the institution thing.” That statement was met with thunderous applause and cheers from everyone in attendance.
Eric not only can speak the English language far better than anyone expected early on, he is also fluent in Spanish. He learned emotions the way some of us learn Calculus: through hard work and determination. “Do not let yourself be defined by your limitations, but rather abilities. Never underestimate yourself,” Eric quipped at the end of his speech.
This remarkable young man and his family worked to prove the experts wrong. They are a true testament to what can happen when you don’t accept what others believe of you, instead striving to make something even better of yourself. Eric will be studying Biology in college this fall, and we wish him the best of luck. I have a feeling that he will succeed far beyond anyone’s imagination.
Have any iPhone apps literally changed your life? I’m willing to bet that they haven’t, unless you are someone like Grace Domican Grace is a ten-year-old little girl who lives her life with Autism. The iPhone has given Grace a voice she never was able to have before.
Her mother, Lisa Domican, created a picture-based iPhone app to help the child communicate. The tool has been so successful for Grace and her family that they are running it as a trial in a school for Autistic children based in Ireland. The Grace app is essentially a digital version of the Picture Exchange Communications System – a book of laminated pictures attached to a board by velcro that allows children with autism to build sentences and communicate.
“Children with autism are often unable to use and understand expressive language because the developmental disability means those parts of the brain don’t work. Some children with autism go on to develop speech, while others never do. With the app, Grace has access to more than 400 symbols and photos in the palm of her hand. She can add new ones herself by taking pictures with the phone’s camera.”
An app like this could potentially be a life-changer for many people – both children and adults. It won’t be restricted to only helping those with Autism. The Grace App could be used for stroke victims, people afflicted with various other diseases and all people who cannot speak due to injuries. It’s important to note that this app is fully customizable to each person’s needs simply by snapping pictures and adding them to the album.
Thanks to Grace and her mother, a new way of communication is opening up for thousands of people. It will be an exciting – and beautiful – thing to watch develop.