Name: Hayden Chadwell
Home: St. Johns, Florida
Product: Tobii Dynavox I-15 with Communicator software
Condition: Cerebral palsy, cortical vision impairment
Hayden, who just celebrated his seventh birthday, is a natural when it comes to teamwork. Surrounded by people who want the best for him, it seems Hayden wants nothing more than to give back.
That can mean many things: A hug and a kiss for his mom Toni or caregiver Hailee. Sharing his music, toys or a joke with his brother Evan, 9. Paying attention to his therapy cat Sabra, and dogs Honey and Wrigley.
Or it can mean spreading the word about his dream project—the future Boundless Playground for children of all ages and abilities that he’s helping to establish at a community park. Under the name Team Hayden, Hayden and his family advocate for other families with medically fragile children.
“The biggest thing is he has a voice,” said Hailee Winsco, the senior University of Northern Florida special education major who is Hayden’s full-time caregiver when school is not in session.
Like his family, Hailee understands his limited natural speech but saw a place for AAC technology in his life. When Hayden received the I-15 about 18 months ago, she dove right in and created plenty of general language content for the device (phrases such as “Let’s hang out” or “How was your day?,” for instance) to help him get used to using it.
“Everything is extremely relevant to him,” Hailee said. She often programs the device with Hayden on her lap to make sure she has his input, whether given by a gesture or verbalization.
"He now has tools to help him communicate."
Toni and Scott Chadwell love listening to their son. “He now has tools to help him communicate his choices, needs, wants, likes, dislikes…as wells as call me and family members by name,” Toni said. The best part is “watching him make his own choices and seeing the rewards of those decisions.” For kisses, he’ll say “Mom, come and get me!” Hayden has more control over everything from selecting favorite music to practicing sight words for school.
Everyone on Hayden’s team shares Hailee’s optimism about his AAC journey. “I’m excited to see where he goes with it,” she said.