Unlocking Communications Skills

Shortly after Joshua Rincon of Hillsborough, NJ, was born, he was diagnosed with cerebral palsy, and his father Jairo recalls that, “We were told he would always need extra help.”

When Joshua arrived at The Matheny School in August 2013, it was clear to his teacher, Dawn Williams, that, “he wanted to communicate and had been frustrated by his limited ability to do so.” The key to unlocking his communication skills, according to Williams, has been, “encouraging him to use a variety of positive forms of communication including PECS (Picture Exchange Communication Systems), real pictures and objects, voice output switches and, perhaps most successful of all, using his pointer finger to make choices.

Nearly two years later, his father Jairo says Joshua, “can now let us know his needs and preferences. He has learned how to use his utensils, he is also able to play and entertain himself, and his behavior has improved.” Matheny, his father believes, is the correct environment for Joshua, because of the level of attention and interaction that is required.

josh, dawn, emily

Joshua works on improving his communications skills with speech-language pathologist Emily Teed, right, in collaboration with his teacher, Dawn Williams.

The teachers and therapists, he adds, are “excellent. Their level of expertise is very high. They are always bringing new ideas about Joshua’s education and his physical progress.” The Matheny School serves students with a diverse range of medically complex developmental disabilities. Through its fully integrated program of special education combined with therapeutic, social, and health services, the school is dedicated to ensuring that each child reaches the maximum potential for learning and independence.