Device Lets Silent Children Communicate

By Justin Wilfon

(LOUISVILLE, May 17th, 2004, 5 p.m.) -- Imagine how difficult it would be if your child couldn't speak. There would be no "I love yous" or even a "thank you." But now children who do have that problem are getting help from technology right here in Louisville. WAVE 3's Justin Wilfon reports.

For at least a day, Louisville's Cerebral Palsy Kids Center turned into a booming business. It was the center's third annual lemonade stand, and a chance for kids with speech disorders to express themselves.

"They just enjoy being together and being able to communicate with other kids," says speech language pathologist Cate Kruth.

But that wouldn't be possible without the help of a special computerized device that gives speechless children a voice.

"You just press a button and it just says whatever you pre-recorded into there," Kruth says.

The messages can be entered by teachers or even parents.

Eight-year-old Christopher Heil and his mom use it every day. Cerebral palsy prevents him from speaking, but his mom, Kristan, says the computer has changed his life. "Without the communication device he was very frustrated, not being able to tell us what his needs and wants are."

It's a frustration many kids have felt, but with one press of a button, it's now going away. "When we program it correctly, it just opens up other doors of opportunities for him," Kristan says.

And that means lots of happy kids and parents.

The month of May is better speech and hearing month, and the lemonade stand is just one of the many ways the center recognizes it.

Online Reporter: Justin Wilfon

Online Producer: Michael Dever