Holy Rosary student’s inspiring story

25 May 2017

Six-year-old Marlee, currently a Year 1 student at Holy Rosary Primary School, will be participating in her fourth HBF fun run this year. After being diagnosed with Rett Syndrome, a rare neurodevelopment syndrome, at 18 months old, this fun run is a testament to Marlee’s resilience and the support she receives at home and school to navigate daily physical and verbal challenges.

Marlee’s support network want to help create the best experiences for her in her learning journey. Staff at Holy Rosary Primary School and the Holy Rosary Siena Centre are continually working with consultants and therapists to ensure the latest medical and psychological findings are being used to leverage the best educational possibilities for Marlee, so that she can continue to flourish and participate in the same curriculum as her peers.

To allow Marlee to do this, she uses the Tobii Eyegaze device, an Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) device which allows her to engage and participate in classroom activities and communicate with her peers by reading aloud words that she selects with her eyes. She also uses her Pragmatic Organisation Dynamic Display (PODD) book. Through these devices Marlee is able to decide how she would like to respond to curriculum activities, whether it be through devices or in hardcopy.

Renate Field, Marlee’s Learning Support Teacher said “Being able to communicate allows Marlee to express her needs, preferences, choices, answers to questions and her thoughts as they relate to her personal and educational development.

“We encourage Marlee’s peers to interact with her by using her Tobii. Her peers can type in, or select their choice of what they would like to say to her.”
A large part of Marlee’s social development is the interaction with her peers. Holy Rosary supports Marlee with this development in a number of ways, one being ‘Marlee’s café’, where her peers can sit around a table with Marlee to interact with her. She also joins in with daily living skills through the Friday Siena cooking program.

“In combination, these measures contribute to educational outcomes and improved quality of life for Marlee. We want to see her grow and develop, explore, learn, build relationships and develop interests” said Renate.

CEWA are privileged to have such an inspiring student at one of our schools, and wonderful staff to support her. Renate describes her as “a ray of sunshine – her smile just lights up any room”.

Staff and students at Holy Rosary will continue to support Marlee in every aspect of her education and personal journey.

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