The Augmentative Communication Program focuses on identifying communication options for persons with communication impairment and determines the most appropriate high-tech, low-tech and/or no-tech solutions. The Augmentative Communication Program also develops and assists in the creation of new applied technologies.
An interdisciplinary team provides the following services:
- Evaluation: Speech, language, positioning and gross/fine motor skills are assessed.
- Determination of Need: Feature match a person's strengths and needs to available or potentially available augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) solutions
Many have asked about visual supports for people with autism so we wanted to share some tools and strategies we use here at our center.
Video Modeling & Visual Supports/Schedule
The Augmentative Communication Program staff works closely with other hospital and community resources to provide optimal services for each individual.
Through the Robert Charm Fund, the Augmentative Communication Program is able to assist in the purchase of assistive technology for individuals who have sustained brain injury.
The Mary Kaye Fund supports the Augmentative Communication Program to purchase simple augmentative communication tools for qualifying children who live in Massachusetts.
The Robert Charm Fund
Robert E. Charm was a writer and magazine editor who wrote on a wide variety of subjects with a specialty in business journalism. He wrote about topics as varied as survivalists to a motorcycle tour he took with Malcolm Forbes. But above all he loved to communicate both through the written word and in conversation with friends and associates.
In 1988 he was diagnosed as having a condition called arterial venous malformation, which is a tangle of blood vessels in the brain. In 1990 he had a brain bleed. After many months in the hospital and in therapy he returned to writing and he got married. The stroke cost him the use of his left arm, leg and right eye. He continued to write using just his right hand. He poked fun at those who would term him physically challenged.
In 1993, he suffered a second bleed. This robbed him of the ability to speak, to walk or to ever really communicate again. He died in 1998 at the age of 44 from complications of this second stroke.
In retrospect some of Robert's most poignant and important work were the articles that told of his struggles to recover and live his life.
As a living tribute to Robert, a fund, in his name has been established at Boston Children's Hospital, so that others who have lost the ability to communicate can do so.
The fund has purchased select Augmentative Communication devices to be trialed by patients with brain injury who have participated in an evaluation through the ACP. During this trial, patients participate in weekly therapy/remote monitoring to assess the appropriateness of the trialed technology.
Under the direction of Dr. Howard Shane, with financial assistance from the Robert E. Charm Fund, individuals are able to regain a piece of their lives.
The gift of expression
When I was a few weeks old, my dad and mom noticed I was not progressing like their friends' kids," Rick Hoyt recalls. "And after the medical exam, doctors told my parents I would be a vegetable. To this day, I don't know what kind of vegetable I'm supposed to be."
Although cerebral palsy has rendered him quadriplegic and unable to talk, Rick still cracks jokes through a high-tech communication device he was taught to use by John Costello, MA, CCC-SLP, director of Children's Augmentative Communications Program (ACP). Now in his late-40s, Rick has been treated at Children's since he was 10.
Rick, like many ACP patients, can't effectively communicate via speech, writing or sign language, but still has a lot to say. Using everything from simple picture boards to the latest voice output communication technology, Costello and his team help ACP patients express themselves.
Lacy Augmentative Communication Lab
The Lacy Augmentative Communication Lab, gifted to the Augmentative Communication Program (ACP) by the Clive W. and Mona M. Lacy Trust, assures that the ACP has state-of-the-art augmentative communication technology available on site for outpatient evaluations and therapy.
In many instances, when the outcome of an assessment yields a recommendation for a functional trial, ACP staff are able to loan equipment to patients through the Lacy Augmentative Communication Technology Lending Program. Loans are based on technology availability. When borrowed, families and patients agree to participate in on-going therapy/monitoring in the ACP during the trial. The Lacy Augmentative Communication Lab also serves as a training site for small groups.
How you can help
You can help give kids and adults like Rick the chance to reveal their true thoughts, desires and personality with a gift to ACP.