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Conditions

Conditions

Cerebral Palsy

If you or a family member has cerebral palsy, then you know how challenging communication can be. Symptoms vary from person to person, speech disorders can result from the motor deficits associated with cerebral palsy. Language disorders can also be associated with cerebral palsy. These speech and language challenges impact both individuals with cerebral palsy and their communication partners.

Possible signs and symptoms of challenges may include:

  • Difficulty co-coordinating muscle movements needed for speech.
  • Difficulty expressing needs and wants.
  • Difficulty writing.
  • Difficulty creating cohesive sentences.
  • Social problems, related to difficulty communicating.

The good news? With support, individuals with cerebral palsy can express themselves to their fullest potential. Improved communication can lead to a full and satisfying everyday life.

ACCI provides a range of tools that individuals with cerebral palsy need to overcome communication challenges, develop language and literacy skills, make choices, speak their minds and fully participate in life!

Autism

For many children with autism, communication and social connections with others may be confusing or challenging, requiring a little extra support from parents, peers, and educators. Successful communication requires that children with autism have the right tools at the right time and know how to use them. At ACCI, we strive to provide children and adults with autism and their communication partners with the necessary tools to improve communication and learning, speak their minds, and reach their full potential.

Possible signs and symptoms of communication challenges may include:

  • No or limited purposeful verbal speech
  • Difficulty expressing needs and wants
  • Echolalia (Repeating a word or phrase that has been previously heard)
  • Loss of words that the child was previously able to say
  • Inability to identify objects (poor vocabulary development)
  • Difficulty answering questions
  • Limited attention to people and objects in the environment
  • Poor response to verbal instructions

ACCI provides a range of tools that children with autism need to overcome communication challenges, develop language and literacy skills, make choices, speak their minds and fully participate in everyday life!

Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)

Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, sometimes referred to as ALS or Lou Gehrig's disease, is a neurodegenerative condition that affects the motor neurons that reach from the brain to the spinal cord and affect muscles throughout the body. As these motor neurons deteriorate, the brain's ability to initiate and control muscle movement is lost. Most often, the condition affects people between the ages of 40 and 70.

For individuals with ALS, it is important to have the tools needed to maintain independence as abilities change in response to the condition.

Symptoms vary from person to person, but possible signs and symptoms of ALS may include:

  • Muscle weakness in the hands, arms, legs, or in the muscles that control speech, swallowing or breathing, exclusively or in combination.
  • Muscle cramps or twitching, especially in the hands and feet.
  • Impaired use of arms and legs.

ACCI provides a range of tools that individuals with ALS can use to overcome communication challenges.

Intellectual Disability

Intellectual Disability, sometimes referred to as Cognitive Disability, affects approximately one in ten families. Some of these individuals may experience difficult with self-expression and social connections. Children and adults with Intellectual Disability can – and do – learn new skills. They may, however, require additional support and time to do so. With this support, learning, development and growth is within reach for every individual with intellectual disability.

Possible signs and symptoms of intellectual disability may include:

  • Delayed speech or difficulty speaking.
  • Difficulty expressing needs and wants.
  • Trouble understanding the world around them.
  • Difficulty understanding the consequences of their actions.

ACCI provides a range of tools that individuals with intellectual disability need to overcome communication challenges, develop language and literacy skills, make choices, speak their minds and fully participate in everyday life!

Stroke/Aphasia

Aphasia is an acquired language disorder which may have resulted from an internal brain injury such as stroke, from a lesion or tumor in the brain, or from an external brain injury. Simply put, aphasia can occur from damage to the normal language functioning of the brain. Aphasia has many forms or types depending on the area of the brain that has been affected.

Depending on what areas of the brain have been affected that has caused aphasia, some key areas of speech and language rehabilitation are:

  • Using words, pictures and/or symbols to re-build their understanding of language.
  • Listening to spoken words, sentences and phrases and speaking them.
  • Practicing writing, spelling and creating cohesive sentences.

ACCI provides a range of tools that individuals with aphasia need to overcome communication challenges, develop language and literacy skills, make choices, speak their minds and fully participate in life!

Other Conditions

Head and neck cancer can include that of the oral cavity (mouth, lips, gums, cheeks, tongue, tonsils, and mouth floor), salivary glands, sinuses, nasal cavity and throat/pharynx, larynx/voice box. If found early, these types of cancers are often curable; however, the treatments may include surgery, radiation and chemo therapy, or even a combination. 

If you or a family member has recently undergone head or neck surgery, then you understand how frustrating it can be not being able to communicate. Not every individual is able to meet their communication goals, so they may still require additional assistance through the use of AAC. Even for those that are making satisfactory progress, and those that are good communicators, they may still need various forms AAC when having difficulty expressing themselves in certain (i.e. noisy, crowded) situations.

Childhood Apraxia of Speech

Childhood apraxia of speech (CAS), sometimes called developmental apraxia, is a motor speech disorder where there is difficulty with the correct production of sounds, syllables and words. Typically, there is nothing wrong with the muscles of the face, tongue, lips, and jaw. The brain has difficulty planning the movement of body parts needed for speech.

The primary goal for using an AAC device with a child with CAS is to enhance communication, not to replace or inhibit the existing communication skills of the child. Because children with CAS may also experience delays in receptive and expressive language development, an AAC device, with a robust and structured framework, can give them access to the tools needed to support their language and literacy learning. AAC is used to support speech or to help the child gain higher levels of language ability. Traditional speech therapy may be used in conjunction with augmentative communication strategies for some children with CAS.

Most AAC users continue to use their existing communication skills (e.g. verbalizations, facial expressions, gestures, etc.) in addition to an AAC device. AAC intervention strives to determine the communication needs of the child, identify the child's strengths and match those strengths to possible AAC solutions.

Neurological Conditions That Can Affect Speech.

Multiple Sclerosis, Huntington's and Parkinson's Disease may effect an individual's ability to speak due to a condition called Dysarthria. Dysarthria has many forms; in general it affects a person's ability to articulate words causing unintelligible speech or a loss of speech due to a disorder in the nervous system. This may coincide with a loss of muscle control.

AAC Can Benefit Individuals with Dysarithria as a Result of a Neurological Disorder by providing speech output that a person can use to augment their communication. An AAC device allows an individual to continue to communicate without the need of easily understood, natural, speech. AAC devices allow a person to select words, sentences and phrases to communicate their wants, needs and ideas and to participate in social settings.

Traumatic Brain injury (TBI)

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is an acquired condition that occurs when the brain is damaged as the result of an injury. Often the result of a violent blow or a jolt to the head in which the brain collides with the inside of the skull, traumatic brain injuries are common. Less common is traumatic brain injury resulting from an object penetrating the skull and the brain.

Symptoms of TBI can range from mild to severe, and the severity of any disability that may result from a TBI can range as well. At times, communication difficulties arise as the result of TBI. These communication challenges may vary dramatically from person-to-person depending upon the area of the brain that is damaged and how severe that damage is.

While the majority of individuals who sustain TBIs recover without any residual challenges, those who sustain severe TBIs may be left with communication and cognitive challenges that require temporary or permanent support for the individual to successfully communicate and achieve a greater degree of independence.

Augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) strategies like Speech Generating Devices (SGD) devices can help the individual by bridging any communication gaps that arise as a result of the TBI. It is important to note that SGD's do not replace other methods of effect communication, rather they become an important tool in a complete communication system and replace only those elements of communication that are ineffective!

SGD's give the individual the ability to effectively speak his mind, take an active role in communicating with others, direct personal care, and connect with others. Communication can easily be achieved in face-to-face situations, by phone, online and by e-mail.

While communication devices are often needed on a permanent basis, they can be introduced temporarily to support the individual as he recovers communication and cognitive skills. At times communication devices can be used to “draw out” the individual and give him the motivation to begin communicating with others.

 

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