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More than words



Thorin Ridley is autistic and completely non-verbal, which makes life a little challenging. Among other struggles, he has found it difficult to unlock his personality – so Satan’s Little Helper stepped in with a solution.


Jessica isn’t sure why her son can’t talk. Medically, there’s no reason why the six-year-old should be non-verbal.


“We don’t think he has an intellectual disability and his hearing is fine, but it’s like the ‘talk’ button hasn’t been switched on in his brain. You can see him moving his mouth in the mirror to form words, but he doesn’t make the sounds.”


Thorin is one of five siblings and is happy being left to his own devices, although Jessica says that is a concern to her at times.


“I worry that sometimes he might feel like an afterthought, as he’s such a quiet dude sitting in the corner playing with trucks and doing his own thing.”


A mind-blowing difference


Not having the means to communicate with the world around you must be incredibly frustrating, especially when you’re going through the ups and downs of getting older.


To help Thorin unlock his words and lessen his moments of frustration, Satan’s Little Helper got him a tablet.


“It’s made a mind-blowing difference already,” says Jessica. “In a number of ways, it's made a huge step towards his autonomy.”


Jessica says that he’s taking a bit longer to come around to using it as a communication device, although he does love to make it say “my name is Thorin” on repeat.


Meanwhile, he is finding other ways to use it for personal development.


“The tablet has increased his confidence a lot. For example, my sister came over and it was the first time he’d grabbed her to do stuff with him. – She almost had tears in her eyes because it was the first time he’d interacted with her like that.”


More time with siblings


Jessica says Thorin’s siblings are also using it to find fresh ways to interact with their brother – plus it’s been encouraging to see him develop new interests.


“He’s started to do things like jigsaw puzzles, drawing pictures and playing little random games – it’s really bringing his personality out more and we’ve all been very impressed that he’s a clever little man, who has all these other interests. It’s giving us a sneak peek into what this kid may be in the future.”


He’s also a lot better at paying attention and his list of expanded interests now includes books.

“It could be a coincidence, but since we got the tablet, he’s a lot more into books. He seems a lot more interested in words in general and listening to other people read to him.”


Using it to communicate is next on the list; for now, Thorin and Jessica can be happy that the tablet is proving to be a positive addition to his life.

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