Patients at Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital in St. Petersburg, Florida will soon have access to specialized toys that allow them to engage in play while learning language skills for speech generating devices.
"AAC (Augmentative Alternate Communication) means all of the ways to communicate besides talking," Lydia Bailey, director of planned giving at Johns Hopkins, wrote in her grant application. "AAC can improve a child's expressive and receptive communication skills, increase functional communication behaviors and foster social interactions to improve quality of life and increase independence."
Grant funds will be used to purchase the switch activated specialized toys, tables mounts to position the devices for better access and eye gaze software to facilitate training so children can use the speech generating devices through eye gaze.
The toys will be used in the AAC clinic at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Main Campus and during speech and occupational therapy across seven outpatient care centers. The AAC program focuses on helping children who have difficulty using verbal speech receive devices to help them communicate.
"Devices and equipment will allow assistive technology and communication solutions to give children with disabilities a voice," Bailey said. "These devices allow them to functionally communicate with others. The children seen through our AAC program often have complex needs due to their medical diagnoses, such as Cerebral Palsy, Autism and genetic disorders. These specialized items will improve our patient’s ability to participate in assessments and intervention."