The ongoing work at St. John of God Community Services

The ongoing work at St. John of God Community Services
Teacher and student

Teacher and student

In its most recent annual report, 2013-14, Saint John of God Community Services summarized its current progress and latest accomplishments.

For example, Archbishop Damiano School purchased its first Tobii PCEye Go System, a revolutionary eyegaze technology that helps children with complex communication needs at the school be able to be better understood, by tracking their eyes. Instead of a mouse, students can navigate and control a desktop or laptop computer with only their eyes

The report described Angelina, the youngest of 11 students learning to use the new tech, controlling it with her eyes, and moving something with their eyes, on the screen. Nina, as she is affectionately called, can only communicate by opening her mouth for “yes,” and closing it for “no.” With this new tech, the hope is that she will eventually make her own messages.

“She is very excited about this system and it’s something fantastic for her,” says Patricia Morris, ADS Augmentative Communication Specialist. “There’s a lot in there that she wants to say, but can’t. Our goal is that one day she can.”

In one year, Archbishop Damiano School had provided:

— Appropriate educational placements for 169 students

— Placements for 54 sending school districts

— Over 172,000 hours of special education instruction

— Over 15,000 speech therapy sessions

— Over 13,000 occupational therapy sessions

— Over 9,800 physical therapy sessions

—1,344 classes focusing on Independent Living Skills

— Diplomas for 10 students graduating from ADS

In the Vocational Rehabilitative Program for adults, 60 are working in the fulfillment center, 23 clients are working part-time in the community, two are clients working full-time, and six are living in supervised group homes.

Erin McGonigle, 31, for example, has Down syndrome. A former student of Archbishop Damiano School, she now works at Wawa in Franklinville. Her upbeat customer service approach has earned her the title “Mayor of Wawa.”

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