Giving a Voice to Those Who Cannot Speak

AAC technology gave him a voice!

“Mommy, did you see that airplane? It looks so little. How can people fit in it? When I get big, I’m gonna go in an airplane and I’ll wave to you when I pass our house. Can we have meatballs ‘n’ spaghetti for supper tonight? And can I stay up late now ‘cuz I’m five and a quarter?  Mommy, how come babies don’t have any teeth? Mommy, I have a big boo-boo on my finger. See! It’s giant! Can I have a band-aid? Mommy, how come my thumb goes out sideways and all the other fingers go up straight? Ooo – Abba just came home. I’m going to show him my boo-boo.”

Mommy breathed a sigh of relief as the kitchen became quiet. Finally. But it wasn’t always that way. It was less than a year ago that little Eli*’s vocabulary consisted of a total of ten words. Four years old and only ten words! Even those were unclear and difficult to understand. E. was born with a chromosome deficiency that manifested itself in severe developmental delays. They were advised to begin an Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) program and borrowed a communication iPad from Ezer Mizion’s AAC Lending Library which provides hi-tech communication devices together with guidance, advice and support. The family’s efforts to boost his speech soon began to show results and Eli* began repeating words he had never spoken before.  The family was amazed but their amazement soon turned to disbelief when Eli*’s vocabulary broadened and he uttered his first sentence. Things began to snowball after that and one year later, the family returned the ipad. Why? It was no longer needed. Their child had become fully verbal.

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Communication Devices for Ukrainians

Communication. A frequent everyday occurrence. Hardly a blip on our radar. Until it’s not there. Until one needs a simple drink of water and cannot express himself. Until a soldier’s face is contorted with pain and he cannot relay to his nurse where the pain is coming from.

Mrs. Yonit Hagoel Karnieli,, head of Ezer Mizion Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) Division presented on Zoom to 380  speech and language professionals, parents of children with communication impairments and governmental representatives in the Ukraine. The topic was “What is AAC and how it used in Israel.” Following this presentation, the Ukrainian government is interested in further collaboration which is being discussed.

Communication board to be translated into Ukrainian

Israel is considered one of the leading countries in high tech and the Ukrainian government was interested in learning from Ezer Mizion how to raise the bar of AAC use in Ukraine, particularly to benefit their soldiers who have been injured in combat in the current military conflict.

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When ALS Robs Its Victim of Every Skill He Had

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Communicating via Ezer Mizion AAC device

We tend to take our abilities for granted. Scratching a mosquito bite, calling out to a friend across the street, running for a bus, licking an ice cream cone…these are all simple daily activities until one finds he no longer is capable of performing these previously effortless actions.

Muscular movement is controlled by the neurological system. Motor neurons ‘tell the muscles what to do’. But if they don’t? That is when we begin to realize just how complex our bodies are. A person finds he can no longer perform actions that have been part of his life since infancy.

This is what happens in ALS. The motor neurons are gradually lost and the muscles they control become weak and then non-functional.  ALS stands for amyotrophic (without nourishment to muscles) lateral (affecting the side of the spinal cord) sclerosis (the hardened nature of the spinal cord). Its onset is gradual and, at first, the symptoms are merely annoying: dropping things, tripping, perhaps slurred speech. Slowly, other muscles become involved including those that help us breathe. Up until five years ago, life expectancy was short with death often due to respiratory failure and lack of ability to ingest nutrition but due to recent technological advances in prolonging life, some ALS patients can now live for decades.

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Reuven maintains his connection to his world using Ezer Mizion AAC equipment despite the ravages of ALS

The question then arises regarding the quality of life of these patients. A typical end stage Amytrophic Lateral Sclerosis patient is not mobile at all. He lies in his bed or recliner, unable to lift his arm to reach for a tissue, unable to swallow food, unable to ask for a drink. He is completely dependent on his caretaker for every need. Continue reading When ALS Robs Its Victim of Every Skill He HadFacebooktwitterpinterestlinkedinmail