A life-changing gift for a non-verbal boy with autism.

5-year-old Luca Brook is non-verbal, but a new tablet full of expert apps is changing the way he communicates.

Brooke Family / Provided.

5-year-old Luca Brook is non-verbal, but a new tablet full of expert apps is changing the way he communicates.

Asking a five-year-old for a glass of water may not seem like a big deal to most people. But for Luca Brooke’s mother, Dani Garland, the simple act brought tears to her eyes.

Garland said Luca, a young boy from Dunedin, was more advanced than other children his age when he was one year old. But that soon changed.

“Six months later, he lost his words, and started avoiding eye contact, social interaction and sports.”

Luca was diagnosed with autism before the age of two, and is now five years old. But technology is now helping to find its voice.

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Before Covid 19 spread around the world, Luca was seeing a speech therapist once a week, and was ready to receive a funded communication device. However, epidemics potentially delayed the delivery of a life-changing device by two years.

Garland turned to a social initiative by the people behind Hell’s Pizza called the Devil’s Little Helper.

Garland said this was done as a last resort, as she wanted Luca to have a tool before starting school.

The Devil’s Little Helper team gave Luca a tablet complete with expert apps that allow him to talk to others, express his feelings and ask simple questions.

Before he had a tablet, he had a one-piece communication board with a few options. He had to take her everywhere, “Garland said.

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“The bullet gives him a lot of options. He can be more accurate and use it to make complete sentences, because it speaks for itself.

“It’s really amazing. ”

Garland said Luca developed a lump in his throat when he used the tablet to ask for a glass of water this week.

She said her ability to communicate has changed her life.

Earlier, Luca was frustrated when people couldn’t understand his requests, “which will cause meltdown, which you really want to avoid autistic children.”

These bugs have been fixed since he got the app. “He’s very happy and he’s more confident, because he knows he can chat.

Luca was also doing well in school, discovering a love of music and art.

And when the devil’s little helper found out that he was also excited about space, he sent him a 40 mm telescope. “He uses it every night, it’s part of his routine,” Garland said.

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