Assistance to Zachary Richings

Commissioner Hine with Zachary Richings (recipient of Charity Trust support) and his mother, Phillida.The Tasmania Police Charity Trust has had great pleasure in assisting Zachary Richings (5 1/2 years) who suffers from Autism Spectrum Disorder.  Zachary had been placed on a severe disability register and was unable to communicate until a speech pathologist discovered that a particular piece of electronic equipment provided for promising results.  This special equipment; called a Liberator, provides a means of communication through an electronic voice.  After a trial period it was confirmed that Zachary enjoyed using the equipment, however, his mum needed to locate a way to raise the necessary funds.

The Trust was approached to extend a donation of $7,194 to fund the equipment for Zachary.  The Board approved the funding as it was immediately obvious that this particular piece of equipment would be life-changing for Zachary.

Zachary has now been using the equipment successfully for approximately two months. Finally he is able to communicate all his needs, likes and wants, which is tremendously helpful for him in terms of decreasing stress and anxiety, and is helpful for his mum Phillida too. Phillida has advised Zachary is a lot calmer now and can even demonstrate his sense of humour through this communication device.  He has now started spelling and knows his colours; Phillida is delighted to learn that Zachary’s favourite colour is green. Zachary now also has the confidence to greet people.

Importantly, the device is helping to create new pathways in Zachary’s brain. Firstly, he is learning through sensory input by touching the screen; then by visual input through pictures and also auditory input through hearing the voice.  By stimulating his motor planning skills, Zachary is now constantly developing; learning in leaps and bounds.

It has been a rewarding process to see how one piece of equipment can totally alter the life of a little boy and we extend our best wishes to Zachary and Phillida.

(August 2012)