For the first time in 30 years, John Sullivan of rural Marlette, Michigan can communicate—really communicate. Through his new Tobii Dynavox I-12 AAC device, he announces “The bird is here” on mornings when a favorite cardinal sits at the window, says he’s a huge “Star Wars” fan, makes requests to eat or bathe, and more.
“He’s almost a new person,” said Dick Sullivan, John’s father and primary caregiver. “I just think it’s nice that he can have a conversation with someone other than me.”
Speech-language pathologist Pamela Rick of Residential Home Health in the Detroit metropolitan area knew the I-12 would be a perfect fit for John soon after she met him a few years ago. . “For the first time, he is able to make simple choices for himself, greet people and ask simple questions. The possibilities are endless for him.”
“For the first time, he is able to make simple choices for himself, greet people and ask simple questions. The possibilities are endless.”
John lost the ability to speak the summer before his senior year in high school after he and his three golf partners were struck by lightning during an early morning tournament. Though the others recovered, John had nerve and brain damage resulting in permanent disabilities.
Perhaps most striking about John’s story is the uncommon love that surrounds him. John lives with his dad Dick, mother Marcia and brother Ryan. Dick Sullivan sold the family dairy farm so he could care for his son.
John enjoys visits with his niece and nephew Kylie and Kevin. To the teenage twins, their uncle’s AAC device is both practical and cool.
Kylie says the I-12 “opens up his vocabulary so much more” and creates language content for John to use. “It feels good being able to help him with something important.”
“He’s almost a new person.”