ORLANDO, Fla (Ivanhoe Newswire) — Kids with severe autism or cerebral palsy may have a very difficult time communicating. Assistive devices are available, but those are often sophisticated to use and expensive. Now, a Brazilian inventor has partnered with an American hospital to introduce an inexpensive tool to help special needs kids express themselves.
Music and dance are soothing to four-year-old Anna Stinson. Anna has autism, and has not formed many words.
Angelique Hall, Anna’s mother explained, “I’d see the pain in her eyes. Because she’s literally trying to tell her mommy something, and she knows her mommy doesn’t understand.”
But for the past few months, Angelique has opened a window into Anna’s world, using a specially designed app, displaying images that are personal to her.
Anna often repeats the words she’s learned on the device. Angelique says in several months, her daughter has gone from one word, to short phrases.
“Livox means liberty through voice,” CEO, Founder and Creator of Livox Carlos Pereira told Ivanhoe. (Read Full Interview)
A Brazilian engineer, Pereira created Livox five years ago to communicate with his daughter Clara. Clara was born with cerebral palsy.
“We have a deep understanding of the needs of people with disabilities and how to transform those needs into software,” Pereira said.
Livox has more than 20,000 users in Brazil. Now, Florida Hospital in Orlando has partnered with Pereira to test the system with their pediatric rehab patients.
“It provided access to a group of patients who weren’t getting it because of the cost, and because of the types of tools available in that space,” Ashley Simmons, Director of Innovation Development at Florida Hospital in Orlando, Florida said.
Angelique Hall is hoping the hands-on touch and talk technique will make all the difference for Anna.
Livox is available to download on the Google Play store. The software costs $250, but users in the Florida Hospital trial are provided the app for free to download on their personal tablets. Pereira says because Livox is considered an alternative communication device, it’s important that families work in consultation with their speech therapists when using it.
Contributors to this news report include: Cyndy McGrath, Supervising and Field Producer; Gabriella Battistiol, Assistant Producer; Roque Correa, Editor and Videographer.
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TOPIC: LIVOX GIVES VOICE TO SPECIAL NEEDS KIDS
REPORT: MB #4276
BACKGROUND: Individuals with cerebral palsy or severe autism sometimes are not able to communicate clearly or effectively. They may not be able to utilize speech or sometimes do not have control over their body movements. This can prove extremely difficult for not only the person himself or herself but whomever is their caretaker. Different medical problems may arise; perhaps the person with cerebral palsy or autism has an ache or pain. If they cannot express to someone how they are feeling, they may not accurately receive proper care in a timely manner. Or perhaps a child is upset and has trouble expressing their feelings to a parent or caregiver; this can prove extremely stressful and difficult for all parties.
STANDARD TREATMENT: There are various options for communicating with someone with special needs. Whether it’s text to speech or eye tracking technology, using a voice synthesizer or sign language, sometimes rudimentary forms of body language, most people can somewhat communicate even if they are nonverbal. Augmentative and alternative communication or AAC is a blanket term used to describe these methods of communication, which do not involve direct speech. They are comprised of low-tech forms of communication like sign language, gesturing, and manual language boards as well as high-tech assistive devices such as touch screens, speech-generating systems, electronic keyboards and even iPads or iPhones. Some of these devices vary in pricing and accessibility, and can be easy or difficult to use/learn depending on the method and person.
NEW TECHNOLOGY: Livox is a new app developed 5 years ago, which allows for easy communication between caregivers and people with special needs who have trouble verbally communicating. It can be adjusted based on a persons needs, with simple pictures, words, colors, and lighting, organized by categories to assist a person based on what they are looking to communicate. It is available on the Google Play Store for $250. The Livox team of engineers is currently working off of a $550,000 grant from Google to improve the new technology even further. Since Livox is new to the U.S., Florida Hospital has partnered with Livox to test their regular software as well as the new features. With the new features, people with disabilities will be able to communicate up to 20 times faster.
(Source: CEO, Founder and Creator of Livox Carlos Pereira)
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