Speech therapy is helping this year’s Tree of Hope Spokesfamily’s three-year-old, Avonlea, build confidence to express what she wants, gain independence, build relationships, and communicate with those around her. She is learning how to use an augmentative and alternative communication device (AAC), with DSC Speech-Language Pathologist, Karissa Louthan. Using the device, Avonlea says words by selecting pictures of a word using buttons on the sides of her head. When Avonlea pushes the green button on her right side, it says a word so she can hear if that is the word she wants to say. Once Avonlea finds the word she wants to say, she pushes the yellow button on the left side to say the word.
Avonlea uses her device to say she wants “more”, “stop”, “go” and “hello.” She can also call her dog “Luka” and say her family members names: “Mama”, “Dada”, “Forrester”, and “Rhodes”. Avonlea has grown in curiosity and likes to explore and babble on her device, seeing how each button works and what words she can say. Avonlea’s AAC device has the ability to grow with her, adding more words as she learns and grows.
Karissa shares, “Seeing Avonlea make those connections—the joy that shows on her face when she knows she has said the words she wanted to say—that’s one of the greatest things about my job, to be able to see that and to see the excitement in her parents when she reaches a new milestone.”
If you would like to help DSC provide more families with speech therapy opportunities, we invite you to donate to the Tree of Hope by visiting https://bit.ly/3i4Ompm.
To learn more about speech therapy or augmentative and alternative communication devices, contact DSC Family Development Director, Nicole Smith at email@example.com or (217) 356-9176.