iPad helps teen learn to speak at Cleveland Clinic Children’s Center for Autism

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AKRON, Ohio -- Technology is creating a new source of power for an Akron family, who spent years wondering why their daughter was missing major developmental milestones.

"It was pretty frustrating and I think she had behavior showing that because she was trying to communicate with us but I didn't understand what she was trying to say," said Beth Abbott.

At age three her daughter Tanya, now 13, was diagnosed with Autism. Abbott says as Tanya grew she reached a heartbreaking conclusion, she did not know her own daughter. Tanya does not speak often, the lack of communication according to Abbott made it challenging to understand her only daughter.

"It's hard to talk about the past because she's come so far," said Abbott pausing trying not to cry. "I was in denial and it's hard but I knew that she had it in her and I wanted to best for my daughter and I knew moving forward it was going to be a long journey."

Abbot turned to the Cleveland Clinic Children's Center for Autism for help. In just two years, thanks in part to an ipad Abbott says Tanya is showing rapid growth.

"When she started she was primarily communicating with gestures and pointing to items," said Heidi Ritenour, the coordinator of Educational Services at the Cleveland Clinic Learner School. "Now she has a communication device that she's very fluent with."

Tanya uses the talking device to express her desires to her family using the convenient click of a button. The iPad is loaded with prompts that help Tanya learn the power of her words, while bridging the gap of understanding.

"I think she has surprised us so much with everything she can do and how quickly she has learned," said Ritenour.

All while providing those that love Tanya a window inside her life.

"The ipad helps her be herself, she's never been able to tell me tell her story," said Abbot. "To hear words finally start coming out, the change is phenomenal like she's just happy."

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