Medical Breakthroughs Reported by Click here to go to the homepage.
Be the First to Know. Click here to subscribe FREE!
Search Reports: Use quotation marks around your multi-word search terms in the box below to perform search of
Advances in health and medicine.Use " marks around search terms
What's New
News Flash
  Alternative Health
Asthma & Allergies
Breast Cancer
Cardiovascular Health
Children's Health
Dental Health
Fertility & Pregnancy
Men's Health
Mental Health
Multiple Sclerosis
Neurological Disorders
Nutrition & Wellness
Pet Health
Seniors' Health
Sports Medicine
Women's Health
Advances in health and medicine.
Click here to sign up for Medical Alerts!
Click below to access other news from Ivanhoe Broadcast News.
  Click here to get Ivanhoe's Medical Headline RSS feed Click here to listen to Ivanhoe's Medical Podcasts
Useful Links
Play It Again, Please
E-Mail a Friend
Order Books Online
Inside Science
Smart Woman
Advances in health and medicine.
Smart Woman Home
Click here to read the story
Click here to read the story
Click here to read the story
Smart Woman Home
Advances in health and medicine.
Click below to learn about Ivanhoe.
About Us
Contact Us
Ivanhoe FAQ
Our TV Partners
Travel Calendar
Advances in health and medicine.
Ivanhoe celebrates 20 years of medical news reporting reaching nearly 80 million TV households each week. Click here to learn more...
Advances in health and medicine.
Marjorie Bekaert Thomas
Advances in health and medicine.
General Health Channel
Reported March 27, 2014

Giving Shannon a Voice of Her Own

WILMINGTON, Del. (Ivanhoe Newswire) – More than half a million children under age 15 has a severe communication disorder impairing their ability to speak or communicate with others. Now, advances in technology are giving them a voice—some for the first time.

When Shannon Ward came into the world three months early, her mom knew she’d be special.

“She was always just aware, alert, and watching,” Janine Blythe, Shannon’s mom, told Ivanhoe.

However, while her mind was active, physically Shannon’s development was delayed.  Diagnosed with cerebral palsy Shannon couldn’t speak.

“She would vocalize for you, squeal with delight, but she could not say, mom or dad,” Blythe said.

At age nine, she was using assistive technology to help her communicate. Now, she is a teenager.

“I think everyone deserves to be heard,” Shannon told Ivanhoe.

The adult robotic voice doesn’t match Shannon’s age or personality.

“There are not really a lot of choices for these kids,” Blythe said.

That’s why Tim Bunnell and his team at Nemours are working to give kids like Shannon a voice of their own for the first time.

“We take recordings of natural speech, chop them up into very small pieces, and then paste them back together again in novel ways,” Dr. Tim Bunnell, Principal Research Scientist and Director, Center for Pediatric Auditory and Speech Sciences, Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children, Wilmington, Del., told Ivanhoe.

For those who can’t speak words, the focus is on vowel-like sounds.

“Perceptually we are tuned to listen to the vowels to understand the vocal identity of a person,” Dr. Bunnell said. “For Shannon, it was as sound like ‘Ahh.’”

Characteristics of those sounds, such as the child’s pitch and voice quality, are recorded and blended with a donor child’s voice to build a new voice.

“I really like my new voice. I think everyone deserves to be heard and it feels great to have a voice that matches who I am,” Shannon said.

The technology used to create a new voice for children like Shannon with cerebral palsy was originally developed for voice banking—so that those with Lou Gehrig’s disease can save their voices for later use.

In the next three-to-five years the technology will be able to actually calculate the child’s voice as they age—so their voice will grow along with the child.

For additional research on this article, click here.

Sign up for a free weekly e-mail on Medical Breakthroughs called First to Know by clicking here.

If this story or any other Ivanhoe story has impacted your life or prompted you or someone you know to seek or change treatments, please let us know by contacting Emily Farr at


Karen Bengston
Media Relations
Nemours Health & Prevention Services
Newark, Delaware
(302) 444-9108

Related Articles in Latest Medical News:

 Doctor Contact
Medical Alerts!

[ Back to General Health Channel Home ]

Most Recent Videos
Your Baby DVD
What Every Pregnant Woman Should Know

Happier Woman DVD
25 ways to reduce stress

Forever Young DVD
25 ways to lose 10 years

Feel Good Again DVD
25 ways to STOP THE PAIN

If a treatment you read about here helps you, let us know...Click here!!

Follow Us On:

Click here to go to Ivanhoe's Twitter page Click here to go to Ivanhoe's Facebook page Click here to go to Ivanhoe's YouTube page

Do you know if you are height-weight proportional?

Find out your Body Mass Index (BMI).

Click Here


How safe are your dietary supplements?

Click here to find out with the FDA's list of supplements and drug interactions.

Home | What's New | News Flash | Search/Latest Medical News | E-Mail Medical Alerts!
Ivanhoe FAQ | Privacy Policy | Our TV Partners | Awards | Useful Links | Play It Again, Please
RSS Feeds | Advertising/Sponsorships | Content Syndication | Reprints

Advances in health and medicine.
Copyright © 2016 Ivanhoe Broadcast News, Inc.
2745 West Fairbanks Avenue
Winter Park, Florida 32789
(407) 740-0789

P.O. Box 865
Orlando, Florida 32802

Premium Content in Latest Medical News Denotes Premium Content in Latest Medical News