Electronic Devices Help Non-Verbal Kids Find Their Voice

by Pam Adams, Journal Star/TNS

Via DisabilityScoop.com

cerebral palsy non-verbalSelah isn’t ready to work yet.

Carrie Kerr asks, “Do you want a drink?”

Selah grabs a bright pink iPad programmed with more than 3,000 words and matching pictures, including a skunk for a fun kid word like “fart.” Pronouns in yellow-colored boxes, adjectives in blue, nouns in white, verbs in green with different shades for past tense and other conjugations.

Selah Oelschlager is 6 years old and learning to talk.

“It’s hard for her to find the words verbally, but easy for her to find them here,” says Kerr, a speech pathologist, referring to the electronic device she calls Selah’s “talker.”

Once Selah finds the matching symbols and words on her talker, Kerr adds, “it’s easier for her to learn them verbally.”

The scene isn’t quite the breakthrough moment of Helen Keller’s discovery of the sign-language meaning of water from the movie, “The Miracle Worker.” It is a child who is nonverbal and has autism stalling the start of a therapy session, the way young children find excuses to put off bedtime.

They are at Child’s Nature, Kerr’s new pediatric therapy center. The scene may not be high drama, but it is a picture of the higher technology of alternative communication systems. Until about a year ago, Kerr and Selah’s mother, Tiffanie Oelschlager, say the exchange might have ended on less agreeable terms.

“The breakthrough was when she didn’t have to use behavior to communicate,” Kerr says. “Before, she would have gotten up and brought the water to us, or bolted, or screamed because we had no idea what she wanted. Now, she can tell us.”

In private life, Kerr worries about the widespread attachment to electronic devices. “It drives me insane.” Her professional life is just the opposite.

“I want that child so invested in their device that it’s not seen as work,” she says of her therapy sessions for children with alternative communication devices. “It’s where their power is. It should be about their freedom, their ideas, their wants and needs. It’s simply their voice.”

She wants the children she works with to use their devices at home, school, the grocery story, at the park or during meals. They do. For instance, varying types of assisted communication technology are evident at many schools, including Peoria Public Schools, where Selah is in a life skills class at Kellar Primary School.


Dad Gives Daughter with CP One of His Kidneys

By Andryanna Shepard


cerebral palsyA man born and raised in the Rogue Valley will be giving his daughter the chance to live this Father’s Day.

Now Aaron McCoy lives in Texas with his wife and two daughter. His extended family still lives in the Rogue Valley.

On Sunday, his youngest daughter, Claire McCoy, began preparing for surgery in Texas. Her skull was fractured during birth and unfortunately, she developed a severe case of cerebral palsy. She cannot walk, talk, or see. Now she is 15 years old and her kidney’s are failing. She spent two years on the donor list and undergoes kidney dialysis nightly. But that is no longer enough. So dad jumped at the opportunity to keep his daughter alive.

His sister-in-law, Angie McCoy said the whole family is sending their love and support all the way from Central Point.

“Its just understanding the love of a parent for a child that Aaron is risking his own health to do this but he said would never regret that decision. We’re just here to support them and love them and hold them up with prayer always,” Angie said.

Although Aaron and Claire live far away from the rest of the McCoy family, some of them will travel to give their support in person. His brother Gabriel is there now and his mother, Patti, will fly out soon.

Honda Gives $1 million Gift to Nationwide Children’s Hospital to Enhance Pediatric Mobility

Via News-Medical.net

cerebral palsyNationwide Children’s Hospital and Honda announced today a $1 million gift from the automaker to establish the Honda Center for Gait Analysis and Mobility Enhancement designed to enhance pediatric mobility.

The center will become the first of its kind to provide not only comprehensive gait analysis, but also spine motion analysis, sports performance programs and injury prevention. In addition, it will become a leader in prosthetic and wheelchair development, completing its mission of improving the mobility of all children. This novel approach will seek and promote innovative ways to manage patients with cerebral palsy, spina bifida, spinal cord injury and neuromuscular disease, congenital anomalies and amputations, and any condition which may limit mobility.

Cerebral palsy is the most common motor disability in children, accounting for nearly 10,000 new cases annually. Another 1,500 babies are born with spina bifida each year and 1,500 children are admitted to hospitals with spinal cord injuries. Sports injuries account for about three million pediatric emergency department visits each year in the United States.

“I want to thank Honda for this generous gift that will help Nationwide Children’s Hospital launch the Honda Center for Gait Analysis and Mobility Enhancement,” said Jim Digan, President, Nationwide Children’s Hospital Foundation. “Honda’s support makes possible unique services and opportunities that will set the standard for medicine across the country.”

“At Honda, we consider ourselves a mobility company – and we want our products and our philanthropy to focus on the joy and freedom people have when they have mobility,” said Tom Shoupe, senior vice president of Honda of America, Mfg. “Whether motorcycles, automobiles, marine engines, aircraft, or assistive robotics, we have a long tradition of providing mobility products and so it was a natural fit to work with Nationwide Children’s on a center that would work to expand physical mobility for patients.”

In the quest to pursue innovative ways to treat conditions that impede motion, the Honda Center for Gait Analysis and Mobility Enhancement will harness pioneering technology. The center will use state-of-the art instrumentation, including advanced video recording techniques and 3D motion analysis cameras, force platforms and electromyography – the recording of the electrical activity of muscle tissue – to evaluate physically-challenged patients’ movement, abilities and limitations.