Healthy Living

Trios Foundation Gives Six-Year-Old with Autism Gift of Communication

Trios Foundation Gives Six-Year-Old with Autism Gift of Communication

In Kennewick, Washington, the Trios Foundation has recently reached out to a young nonverbal boy with autism spectrum disorder in order to help him communicate. His family is seeing tremendous improvement already, and the Foundation is continuing to raise money to benefit others as well.

Leo's new iPad

A brief ceremony at the Trios Care Center at Southridge was held recently, before giving a life changing gift to a young child. Leo, a six-year-old boy in Washington, goes to the center every single week to work with his speech language pathologist, Claire Naulty. He was absolutely thrilled when he received an iPad donated by the Trios Foundation. However, this was no simple toy. For Leo, this gift meant more than being able to play games or stream online videos; it meant he would be able to communicate. Leo has been diagnosed with autism and, like many with the condition, sometimes he has a struggle to communicate verbally. The new tablet was purchased with money entirely from the Trios Foundation's Gartner Child Assistance Fund.

The iPad has been specifically designed with a unique program targeted towards assisted learning and communication for children with autism spectrum disorder. The app makes learning and communicating fun, unlike some other methods, via its use of visuals. This is especially useful for Leo because although he is working hard and making significant progress, he is definitely a visual learner, so pictures and images are massive aides to him. He may have troubles with communication, but he has proven to be technologically savvy, and has no trouble learning the programs quickly. The iPad with its special programs is expected to be of massive assistance to the first-grader, and act as a catalyst to the progress he is making. When Leo is using his new iPad, he goes on the app, and can simply tap objects that appear on his screen. When he's done, the app will translate what he's selected into a complete sentence.

So, what does Leo have to say about his new device? He made that clear in the most fitting way possible, by using the new app. He said, "thank you Trios Foundation, all done!"

Leo's mom is also grateful to the Trios Foundation for the gift, and says that she loves the progress that technology can make for those who truly need it. She is excited to finally see her son able to communicate, both with her at home and at school with his teachers and classmates.

She said her thanks to the foundation as well, stating "thank you to the (Trios) Foundation for giving him this opportunity. It helps me help him." For a mother, being assisted in being able to help your child is one of the greatest gift that can be given. She explained that so far, the sessions with his speech language pathologist, Claire Naulty, have offered tremendous progress in her son. She can only imagine how much further progress she will see with the new iPad program, which is called Proloquo2Go.

Claire Naulty has already seen some progress with Leo after beginning use of the iPad, stating "we've been working for a really long time on being able to label the names of the colors. We've been working on it for years. It's not there. But if you say, 'Which color do you want?' he can pull up the colors on the tablet and go, 'I want green.' That language memory is really tough (for him), but his visual memory - he's got it. He can find exactly what he wants and let you know."

It is not uncommon for those with autism spectrum disorder to be more comfortable and responsive to visual communication than that of verbal. Often, those with ASD have other strengths that are not as accessible to their neurotypical peers. For Leo, he shows that he is a master of an iPad, even at a young age, even if he is not able to communicate verbally like some of his peers. Now, hopefully he will be able to better communicate with those around him, which will also improve his learning in other arenas.

Leo was able to receive the iPad because he is officially the first recipient of a gift from the Trios Foundation Child Assistance Fund, which was created in order to assist children in need to acquire the medical assistance they seek, but might not be able to attain otherwise. Leo is clearly a strong start to the foundation's gift giving and donations, and if other children have the same experience that he has had, it is sure to be positive.

The Trios Foundation Child Assistance Fund

The Trios Foundation Child Assistance Fund was originally set up by the estate of the late Paul Gartner. Paul Gartner had bequeathed over $200,000 specifically in the hopes of assisting children with medical conditions who could be saved or assisted with the proper monetary support. In 2015, the Paul Gartner Trust began the fund with a mission to assist children who were younger than 12 years old who, without financial assistance or donations, might not be able to attain the medical treatment or therapy for non-terminal conditions they needed, due to a lack of monetary resources.

After the Gartner Estate was able to begin the funding for the program, the fund was established in 2017. Now, the Trios Foundation administrators will be able to fund and strive to grow the fund. They want to be able to provide assistance to as many young people in the community as possible. They are hopeful that as they do more good deeds, word will spread, donations will be received, and a true impact will be able to be seen in the community of those who are underprivileged but require medical help.

The Foundation aims to give gifts and donations to children who meet certain criteria. First, they must be under twelve years of age, and never previously received any aid from the Gartner Child Assistance Fund. They must possess a reasonable possibility of recovery, and be able to provide proof of an illness or injury that is not considered to be terminal. With the gift or donation, there must be a reasonable possibility of living an improved therapy, due to medical treatment or therapy. Finally, and why the fund exists in the first place, is that they must have a documented financial need. In other words, the child and their family are eligible for federal or state assistance and there is no other way for them to pay for the price of their medical treatments or therapies.


The director of the Trios Foundation Child Assistance Fund stated that they plan to continue to raise money so more children around the nation will be able to receive assistance.

If you feel moved by the fund and its mission, feel free to learn more about how you can help kids just like Leo. You can visit The Trios Foundation Child Assistance Fund website at or call the foundation office at 509-221-5638.


Photo credit: NBC Right Now