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At the iHOPE school, students with traumatic brain injuries and other brain-based disorders constantly find new and creative ways to communicate. Recently, Thomas C., a student who uses an alternative communication device called Tech Talk to communicate, found a surprising way to answer a question. His teacher, Alester Rocha, was doing an alphabet lesson to work on the letter “k,” and Thomas kept asking for a break.

However, when Rocha offered Thomas a break, he refused and said, “Not that,” and continued to repeat, “I need a break.” After a while, Alester asked Thomas if he heard the sound “k” in the word “break,” to which Thomas immediately used his device to say, “Yes, that’s the one!”

“These instances are so important to celebrate because our kids have difficulty showing what they know, and they can’t take a formal test,” said Gretchen Hanser, Director of Assistive Technology and Literacy Instruction at iHOPE. “This is evidence that they are understanding their lessons and developing knowledge.”