When thinking about cerebral palsy, the first things that come to mind for most people are body braces and wheelchairs. This condition, however, often extends beyond the lower body. Cerebral palsy can affect all bodily functions, including the ability to speak. Fortunately, we live in a technological age where new assistive technology is constantly being developed. Many problems that were once debilitating are now mere obstacles to be overcome.
The Importance of Communication
Being able to communicate is one of the most important functions in life. Humans have the most sophisticated communication on the planet with many fully developed languages. However, all animals communicate through one form or another. When a disability robs someone of their ability to properly communicate with others, it results in a great loss of independence for the affected individual.
When the inability to speak is coupled with a disability that leaves a person immobilized, their options for conveying their thoughts and desires become incredibly limited. In the past, people in this condition were doomed to have a low quality of life, as they were essentially completely at the mercy of what others felt was best for them. However, with the advances in assistive communication devices, these people now find themselves with a voice.
Choosing the Right Device
There are many different assistive communication devices in use today, and they all function in different ways.
How They Operate
The more movement your child has, the simpler the device they can use. Some devices are operated through the use of a touch screen or a joystick to access the features and produce the desired communication.
For those with more severe limitations of movement, more advanced technology is necessary. One method of operation is through eye-gaze technology that allows a user to operate the device simply by moving their eyes over a screen.
The eye-gaze technology goes beyond helping with speech and can be used for a wide variety of functions. A user can fully operate a computer, which can also be connected to other devices throughout the home, allowing them to control a large portion of their daily world on their own.
Another important factor in deciding on a device is the education level of the user. Some machines have options to select from pictures and symbols to communicate, while others rely more on letters and words.
Some of these devices are small handheld devices, while others require mounting on a wheelchair. The size you choose will largely depend upon your child’s specific needs, including their level of mobility.
Assistive communication devices come in a wide range of prices. Some of the expense comes down to technology that you may or may not need depending on the mobility of your child. However, other costs are more about functionality. If you have a limited budget, you may have to focus more on what the essentials are for your child’s device, rather than what you would ideally desire for them.
Method of Speech
The method of speech employed by a device can also be very important to a user. Many of the options on the market will let a user choose between a recorded voice and a computer-generated one. However, some devices are more limited. In a situation where all other factors are equal, this could be a deciding factor.
Paying for an Assistive Communication Device
As mentioned, assistive communication devices can be quite pricey. Many parents can not afford to get an adequate product for their child’s needs out of pocket. If your child’s condition was caused by a birth injury, you may be able to seek financial compensation. You can learn more about cerebral palsy and other birth injuries and what to do if a doctor’s negligence led to your child’s injury.
All parents want to provide their children with the best lives possible. For children who have difficulty communicating, getting a well-functioning assistive communication device can be one of the best ways to achieve that goal. Talk to a qualified birth injury lawyer about your options. Many attorneys offer free consultations to discuss your case and advise on whether it is worth it to pursue legal action.
When it comes to your child’s well-being, leave no stone unturned in your search for ways to improve their lives.