“Spread, spread. Cut, cut,” Nyah prompts herself as she prepares two peanut butter and jelly sandwiches each morning in the kitchen with Kim Stevens, one of the teaching assistants at Saint Catherine Academy. With each step in the process, Nyah clicks an icon on her ACC device (Augmentative and Alternative Communication), which has special communication applications that allow her to
ask for help and initiate tasks independently.
“What’s next?” Ms. Kim asks when Nyah hesitates. “Bag.” Nyah jumps up to retrieve two bags for the sandwiches. Mastery of each simple step is a movement toward independence.
Nyah has come a long way from where she first began at Saint Catherine Academy seven years ago, frustrated from her inability to communicate. “Nyah has become very independent and does a lot more for herself at home,” said her mother, Keesha Holmes. “Her dad and I are so pleased with all the progress she has made.”
As her communication skills have expanded, Nyah’s confidence and engagement with others has also grown. In December she played the role of Mary in the annual Christmas Pageant.