23/12/2016 08:03 GMT | Updated 24/12/2017 05:12 GMT

Keeping My Promise To My Daughter By Helping Nonverbal Children Communicate Through Tech


tech for good

When my daughter Sadie was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in 2013, I recommitted to the promise I made to her when she was born: that I would never waver in my unconditional love and acceptance of her. My fundamental job as a parent, to provide for her and help her grow, did not change with her diagnosis. But it did mean that I would have to educate myself on the challenges she faced, and go the extra mile to find ways to reach her.

Providing her with the tools and skills necessary for her to reach her full potential became incredibly important. Anything less would be placing unnecessary limitations on my beautiful girl.

This commitment is what drove my search for a communication solution to connect with Sadie, and eventually led to the creation of TippyTalk. Our app allows a person with a verbal disability to communicate by translating pictures into text messages, which are then sent to a family member's or caregiver's phone. Unlike other communication methods, TippyTalk removes the limitations of same-room communication and provides non-verbal people a way to effectively communicate desires, wants and needs.

Ultimately, TippyTalk's mission is to create platforms that encourage social communication independence for people living with nonverbal disorders. That independence is something that those of us without verbal disabilities take for granted, but nurturing it is critical to connect people with verbal disabilities to the world. Through TippyTalk, my family has witnessed first-hand the removal of barriers that led to Sadie's frustration. Earlier this year, in fact, my beautiful Sadie, now 5, said her first words: "open" and "hello."

The joy that my family felt in helping Sadie reach that milestone is something I want to share. Like all families, the TippyTalk family is passionate about providing a better life and future for our children. We live with nonverbal ASD each and every day of the year, which gave me the inspiration and ability to create the next generation of technology. My mission now is to provide TippyTalk to our community of families living with verbal disabilities - families like mine who are passionately seeking out pathways to add value to our loved ones' lives.

As Sadie has grown this year, so has TippyTalk. Our app was released to market on Android in July 2016 with the iOS version released in August. Given a great boost by the 25 million views of this video, we have continued to grow leaps and bounds, helping tens of thousands of families. We continue to work to expand our product to new countries and will be introducing two-way communication in 2017.

As I look back on the journey with Sadie that has brought us this far, I am so moved by all of the fantastic support from the ASD community and those joining the TippyTalk family, wishing us love from all over the world. It truly is humbling to know how many loving and supportive families there are out there who share the same passion as me and my family in adding value to our loved ones' lives.

Keeping the promises that I made to Sadie has sometimes been hard, but it's never been a burden. I am so excited to see her continue to grow and amaze me, and I am so grateful that TippyTalk will continue to help her - and so many others like her - communicate her unique personality to the world.

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