Devin Means is one of the amazing students currently attending the Kennedy Day School at Franciscan Hospital for Children. Devin is a sixteen year old young man from Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Ten years ago, the Cambridge Public Schools and his parents, Sonia and Kevin, sought a school placement to address Devin’s multiple special educational needs.
That’s when the metamorphosis began.
Devin has weakness in his muscles and choreoathetosis, which causes movements of his arms and legs that he cannot control. For example, when he extends his arm forward to point, gesture, or reach for an item, involuntary movements are triggered in his hands, arms, trunk, legs, and even his face.
At the age of six, Devin didn’t seem sure that it was all worth the effort.
Additionally, while he understands speech and can make some sounds, Devin cannot articulate words. Active communication and participation is very hard work. At the age of six, Devin didn’t seem sure that it was all worth the effort. He was completely dependent on others for everything. Devin appeared stymied by obstacles and resigned to taking a seat on the sidelines.
Teachers, nurses, specialists and therapists at the Kennedy Day School began to collaborate (and sometimes conspire) with Devin’s parents to turn that around and give him the tools he needed to become engaged in learning.
Devin can now make use of a walker to get to his classes and show off his dance moves at the prom. He uses a power wheelchair that he controls with head movements that activate sensors in the chair’s headrest. Devin talks to family, friends, and teachers using a sophisticated and portable computer speech system with words, graphics, and spelling capabilities. He uses his voice to sing with intensity and purpose. While reading is his favorite subject, Devin additionally uses technology to access a broad spectrum of educational materials and vocational-productivity applications, for greater independence and self-direction.
Kennedy Day School faculty describe Devin using terms like ‘determined’ and ‘tenacious’.
“Like his hero, James Bond,
Devin wants to
investigate all the possibilities.”
Devin’s parents are thrilled by their son’s accomplishments. “We didn’t know he could understand so much. It’s like night and day. His teachers found different ways to work with him. He’s always learning to do new things. Like his hero, James Bond, Devin wants to investigate all the possibilities.” In fact, Devin’s enduring drive to overcome obstacles and learn is very much like James Bond’s undeniable resolve to “Never Say Never Again” and again!
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