Co-authored by Ann Bedard, EASTCONN and Meredith Daggett

Sydney Dagget’s early life started in Texas alongside her twin sister, Maddie. Early on, her family noticed Syd was globally delayed. All of the typical milestones that babies and toddlers experience came much later for Sydney.

Sydney in her Book Nook

Years of Birth-to-Three services, Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy and Speech Therapy helped, but her family knew this would be a lifelong adventure. Syd’s mother, Meredith, knew she wanted to research every area to help Syd grow. She knew technology was improving and asked Syd’s school if she could try using an iPad to communicate. Syd used it minimally at first, but it proved to be a way to get her basic needs met.

After Syd’s father passed away unexpectedly when Syd was 7 years old, the family moved back to Connecticut. School staff and doctors diagnosed Syd as being on the Autism Spectrum among other diagnoses. They found out Syd has apraxia, which is a motor disorder that makes it hard to speak. This is the point where Syd’s mom knew they had to invest time and consistency in her talker (iPad with a speech-generating app). Fast forward to age 17 and Syd wears her talker as an extension of herself every day. It has become her communication with her world.

“She gets all her needs met, often asking for pizza and Chinese food daily! Drives us crazy and she’s lucky she’s cute! She can tell jokes and join conversations because of her talker,” Syd’s mom, Meredith shares. “We realize Syd is one of the lucky ones who had the opportunity to use a talker, have lots of school support and have the training that comes along with a talker. This didn’t just happen though, it took years of advocating for Syd, patience, and getting all the support she needs.”

Now her family’s mission is to give back. Syd’s Book Shack & Boutique is a non-profit business created from their experience. Located in Guilford, CT, the store is open 6 days a week selling used and rare books, handcrafted jewelry, and unique gifts. They want to raise awareness and funds towards supplying talkers to those who do not have access.

“We want to use this nonprofit as a way to acquire talkers for those who do not have the resources Syd has,” her mom explains. “We plan on considering other avenues to help and benefit our community kids too. We want to be able to give young adults like Syd job training and social skills using the store as the vehicle. We want this to be a community hang out where all are welcome and greeted with a smile. We have met so many amazing people along the way and look forward to meeting so many more.” To reach out, please visit: www.Sydsbookshack.com, @sydsbookshack, facebook.com/SydsBookShack