Name: Kelby Johnson
Home: Hazard, Kentucky
Product: Tobii Dynavox Compass with an iPad
Condition: Non-verbal autism
Kelby is smart, funny, pays attention and gets things done. Best of all, he has a kind heart.
A sixth-grade student, Kelby is a newly published author. Read his autobiographical book “Finding My Voice: Autism through My Eyes” and it’s obvious how talented and accomplished he is. While Kelby is a strong and caring voice for the autism community, he mostly wants to be known as a regular guy who’s fun to be with
Kelby admits that making friends is challenging because of his non-verbal autism. But that, like so many other aspects of his life, are more than OK because he uses Tobii Dynavox technology to communicate. After a few years with the Compass AAC app on an iPad, then Compass on a T-10 device, Kelby recently transitioned to the Indi and is becoming a seasoned conversationalist with help from its Communicator language software. During the school day, he still uses Compass, his tool of choice for writing.
"It is a more complete way of letting others hear my voice."
Throughout his childhood, Kelby mostly communicated by showing pictures, giving hugs, pointing, writing and occasionally verbalizing single words. His cousin Donna shared that when they were small, Kelby would pull her or her brother Kain by the hand when he wanted to join them in games or activities. Or he simply walked away when he didn’t feel like playing.
In time, Kelby found the technology that would lift him out of frustration and silence. “It is a more complete way of letting others hear my voice,” he says in his book. An excellent listener, Kelby sometimes injects a healthy dose of assertiveness into conversations, typing then saying through his device that he’s too busy to talk at the moment but will get back to you.
Academically well-rounded, Kelby is good at math and science. He likes swimming, skating, ATVs, motorcycles and beach vacations.
“Totally awesome” is how his mom Amanda describes his AAC journey. “We don’t have to guess and wonder.”