On December 16th, 2006, Santana Black survived a near drowning experience and began his courageous course to participating in life in a new way. He was 22 months old at the time and has since been through multiple surgeries and pulled through life threatening illnesses and infections along the way. About three years ago, he began working with an occupational therapist who saw intentional movement in his right wrist. Melanie Conaster, OT, put a drum stick in his hand and began to sing “If you’re happy and you know it clap your hands”. Then she paused and waited and Santana tapped the drum. This intentional movement held exciting promise to a long sought after access method for Santana to participate in his world. After ups and downs but consistent work, this movement was refined and the next step began. Brenda Del Monte, SLP, helped use his cause and effect skills to increase independent control of his environment including sights and sounds. Through the use of a Powerlink and switches, Santana was able to turn on his own music. Using battery interrupters and switches, he was able to operate toys and even his own light show. He ultimately used these skills to make choices on his AAC app on his iPad. His ability to control his environment required a wide variety of assistive technology equipment.
Santana received his wings and flew to God on April 20, 2014 and Believe Beyond Ability was created in his honor.