Our Stories - Speak Out Loud

The world gadget of the year – the Apple iPad – has given a voice to a little Scots girl who has never spoken before.

Natalie Gillespie, 13, suffers from severe learning difficulties and aspects of Autism.

A consequence of her condition is that she cannot speak, relying on basic actions to express her feelings.

Now, thanks to a donation by the Teddy Bear Foundation, the teenager is learning to use special “Proloquo2go” software on Apple’s amazing iPad.

In Latin, Proloquo means “to speak out loud”.  Natalie is beginning to operate buttons on the device to suit her mood.  So, if she wants to watch Cbeebies on TV she can press the relevant button which announces it out loud.

A delighted mum, Carole, said:”It’s amazing – it will give Natalie a voice.

“She will be able to say “I am tired” but she’d be more likely to say “I want a biscuit!”

Carole, 47, works for Learning and Teaching Scotland and specialises in information and communication technologies.

She quickly grasped the opportunities which the iPad and its software could open up for her own daughter, one of three children in the family.

She said:”My friend told me about the Teddy Bear Foundation and how they get back to you very quickly.

“I was crying when I got the email back from Barry.

“Normally,  everything we get we have to fight for.

“When you have a special needs child, you think the cavalry are going to come over the hill to help you.  But they never come.

“I don’t know where we would be without people like Barry.”

The Teddy Bear Foundation met the £499 cost of the iPad and the additional £105 for the Proloquo2go application.

Added Carole, of Newton Mearns near Glasgow:”We will progress from two buttons on the machine, to six and then to 12.

“I think the possibilities are endless.  I don’t know what she is capable of saying.  There is a lot more in Natalie to come out and this is just the thing to help her.”


Mum Carole Gillespie with her daughter's new iPad.

Natalie Gillespie has been "given a voice" through the Teddy Bear donation.

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