Kindhearted couple replaces lost iPad for nonverbal woman with autism

Posted at 6:20 PM, Aug 05, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-05 19:40:27-04

HENRICO COUNTY, Va. -- A high-tech tool has helped a Henrico woman who has severe autism get past several communication barriers when it comes to communicating with family and friends.

Shadae VanAlst has learned to use an iPad and her family says it is making a world of difference.

However, this week has been a struggle since the device Shadae has used for the past four years is gone. She dropped it last week getting into a taxi to go home from the day center she attends.

Shadae’s great aunt contacted WTVR CBS 6 News for help, asking if we could let the public know how critical the lost electronic is to Shadae.

The family did not get the lost iPad back, but they have been overwhelmed with the generosity of strangers.

“The love of God, I always believe, is in people's hearts," Juanita Coleman, Shadae’s great aunt, said.

Coleman said the story of the community outpouring toward her loved one shows just how much people do love and do care.

Thank you Jesus, said her guardian. The iPad helps Shadae communicate.

Thank you Jesus, said her guardian. The iPad helps Shadae communicate.

Social media was buzzing and our WTVR CBS 6 News phone lines were ringing with generous callers asking to help replace the iPad that Shadae desperately needs to communicate with the world.

For Shadae, who is non-verbal, the iPad is a lifeline for skill building, making choices and even making a high tech connection to a higher power.

“She uses it to interact with the pastor and using this, she says amen and thank you, Jesus. She gets up to worship God in whatever way she can” Coleman added.

When the twenty-four year old woman lost the iPad a week ago, her family was devastated.

The iPad helps her communicate.

The iPad helps her communicate.

For four years,  Shadae has shown progress using the iPad to select meals, learn about safety and even listen to Bible stories and songs. Now, Coleman is overwhelmed to know how many strangers reached out to help in this situation.

“God is in the midst of things and all things happen, I believe. He's the vine and we are the branches and there are plenty of branches,” Coleman added.

She is extremely grateful to the couple from Enon who asked WTVR CBS 6 News to make an extra special delivery of a new iPad that they purchased. The couple does not want Shadae to miss another day without the critical tool she needs to stay connected in a sometimes challenging world.

“Paul and Kim, I'm very, very appreciative. Thank you for caring and sharing. Thank you so, so much," Coleman said.

Shadae’s birthday is Monday, Aug. 8 and her family believes this is one of the best gifts she can get. They want to thank everyone in the community who generously offered to help.