LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - Imagine if you didn't have a voice? You couldn't speak your mind, ask for help, or tell someone a story. But one device is helping kids with just that.
Andy has cerebral palsy, a disability which prevents him from speaking clearly, but Andy also has his own DynaVox. Andy takes the device with him everywhere. He takes it to school, home and to the doctor. He even brings it with him to his therapy sessions because UMC doesn't have a DynaVox. The hospital needs this device so they can help other patients just like Andy.
Andy is 9 years old and all smiles now that he has a voice. Olivia works with Andy using his handy DynaVox. He's programmed his favorite movies, foods, and even news stations. The device allows him to choose different categories to express his wants and needs, something that's been a struggle in the past.
"Move your head yes or no, that was the extent of it," explains Andy's dad. And therapy wasn't too fun for Andy either. "Currently we use a board with pictures taped to it. There are many struggles with it, first it looks horrible," Olivia Whitefield, a speech pathologist at South Plains Rehab Center explains.
So it's time to go high tech. "He's listening to my voice, I'm giving him instructions and I'm the voice on the device so you can see how confusing it is, and how much less willing and motivated he is," Olivia says.
Now, with this device Andy is making incredible progress. "A real blessing for Andy - he can communicate better with us," Andy's dad says.
Andy's dad adds that the DynaVox is making a difference at home too. "He can let us know what he wants. What movie or what he wants to eat. He can let us know if he wants a hamburger or hot dog," he says.
"This is something that actually motivates him. He's happy to come to therapy now and happy to come to school and happy to be at home, because he has something that has given him a voice," Olivia explains.
UMC is hoping to give that voice to other children in need. Olivia says there are at least 50 percent of the pediatric speech patients use some form of augmentation communication.
A DynaVox will cost the hospital $12,000, which Olivia feels would be worth every penny.
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