Call it coincidence, call it luck, call it an amazing confluence of awesomeness that brought speech-language pathologist Rachel Romeo and a 10-year-old nonverbal autistic child together—on an eight-hour flight.

Romeo recently tweeted about the “affirming experience.” The SLP started her tweet by writing, “On my 8hr flight back from a conference, I sat next to a father/son. In broken English, the father began to apologize/warn me that his ~10 yr-old son had severe nonverbal autism.”

That’s when the SLP revealed, to the father, “I told him not to worry, I was a speech-language pathologist with lots of experience with minimally verbal kiddos.” Even though the boy screamed, hit her and grabbed for her things, Romeo kept her cool and did what she could do to help.

Realizing that the boy had little experience with communication therapy, Romeo tried a communication board. The SLP started with her computer but quickly saw that the screen bothered the boy. Instead, she decided to draw pictures to communicate with the boy—and it worked.

Based on her tweets, it looks like Romeo’s mid-air intervention gave the boy something he might not have otherwise had: the ability to connect. She added, “This was the human desire for communication, pure and simple. To connect with another person and share a thought. Communication is a basic human right, and I was overjoyed to help someone find it. What a privilege and a gift.”

—Erica Loop

Featured photo: Suhyeon Choi via Unsplash 




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