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Devereux  WaWa coin canister

Wawa Coin Canister Collection

Devereux is proud to partner with Wawa to help change lives for hundreds of children with intellectual, developmental and behavioral challenges in our community. From June 29 through September 28, 2014, Devereux will be the primary beneficiary, among a group of four charities, to receive donations from Wawa’s Coin Canister Collection in Eastern Pennsylvania and the state of New Jersey. Giving to Devereux through Wawa’s Coin Canister Collection opens a world of opportunity to children who need it most - children on the autism spectrum and their families served by Devereux Pennsylvania and children in Devereux New Jersey’s Foster Care program.

13 Ways We Change Lives

Week One: Meet Austin

Mom, I Love YouMeet Austin

Diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder and apraxia as a pre-schooler, Austin had extremely limited communication skills until he found his voice thanks to special communications technology and enrollment at
Devereux CARES, an approved-private school designed for children diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder.

Like so many parents of nonverbal children with autism, Austin’s mother felt helpless, unable to fully communicate with her son—unsure if he understood the depth of her words to him, and distressed that he could not verbally express his feelings. For years, her only wish was to hear Austin say, “Mom” and “I love you.”

Prior to his enrollment at Devereux CARES, Austin could produce some speech sounds; however, they were unintelligible to listeners. At CARES, Austin first learned to communicate using a Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS), which is designed to teach functional communications skills with an emphasis on spontaneous communications. The goal of PECS is to help individuals communicate within a social context.

After learning to communicate using PECS, Austin received a Speech Generating Device, an iPad, to help with his expressive communication. Through the combination of the verbal output of the device and his intensive speech therapy, Austin began to produce his first speech sounds. Over time, these sounds led to words and sentences.

Thanks to Austin’s determination, his family’s support, speech generating technology, and the staff at Devereux CARES, today, Austin is a young man who his Mom says, “never stops talking.” He sings “Happy Birthday” with beautiful melody and intonation, hums the “Jeopardy” theme song with perfect pitch, imitates the vocal expressions of his teachers and therapist, tells jokes, and initiates conversations with his Mom and staff at Devereux CARES.

Austin continues to expand his vocabulary, gaining more interest in the world and interacting with the people around him. He enjoys talking about the fountains at Longwood Gardens, as well as the tools used by Dutch in the Devereux CARES Maintenance Department. He also enjoys sharing the knowledge he acquired while searching the Internet. Staff at CARES calls Austin a “communicative superstar” for the tremendous progress he has made since he arrived at CARES.