Tobii Dynavox - An excellent tool to help your non verbal child be able to communicate.
Updated: Jan 30
"Loneliness does not come from having no people around you, but from being unable to communicate the things that seem important to you." -Carl Jung
What incredible joy it can bring to Finally be able to communicate after not being able to.
In today's blog post I want to share about a wonderful device called the Tobii Dynavox, which is a device that non verbal people can use to communicate their thoughts and feelings through the use of their eye gaze. Who ever invited it was a pure genius!!
I am SOO, SOO excited because day before yesterday, we Finally received my sons Tobii Dynavox delivered to our front door! 😁🥳👍❤️
I have been fighting with my sons insurance for years trying to get them to approve it and it has been a real struggle.
Since the Tobii Dynavox is really expensive, the insurance doesn't just pay for it if your child is non verbal. You have to prove that your child is mentally cognitive enough to use the Tobii Dynavox device.
As for my son, Isaiah, this included having his speech therapist work with him and test him using the Tobii Dynavox over the course of several months.
She would use the game features of the Tobii device and test him in multiple different ways. For example, one way she tested him was by pulling up a scene of a park and children playing and balloons, tress and all kinds of other things on the screen and she would say "Isaiah can you look at the balloons?" And the Tobii device was set up to track Isaiahs eyes, so anytime Isaiah looked at something in particular, it would show up on the screen that he was looking at it.
For example, whenever Isaiahs speech therapist would ask Isaiah to look at the balloons on the screen, the balloons would pop whenever he would look at them, making it a fun game.
She would have a series of different games on the screen that she would take Isaiah through and every time she would ask Isaiah to look at something specific. When Isaiah would follow her instructions, she documented that he in fact mentally understood and could follow instructions, thus proving that he qualified to have the insurance approve paying for the Tobii device.
The way that insurance explains it is that not every non verbal child has the mentally ability to properly use the Tobii device and so if you can not prove to insurance that your child can understand and follow instructions, then the insurance will not pay for the child to have the TobiI device because it is very expensive.
Since Isaiahs muscles don't work properly, he can't talk or even use sign language to communicate. But just because his muscles don't work right doesn't mean that his mind doesn't work.
Unfortunately a lot of people take one glance at Isaiah and assume he is a vegetable. Nothing could be further from the truth! And it is Very frustrating. I just politely explain to them that Isaiahs muscles don't work right but his brain works just fine. That you can talk to him and he totally understands what is going on around him.
I thank the Lord that someone had the genius idea to create a device that can allow people who can not talk or use their hands to write or do sign language to be able to communicate solely by using their eye gaze.
Absolutely incredible!! 😁👍
Often times speech therapists will introduce kids to an eye gaze device (like the Tobii Dynavox) by having them play a series of fun games that they can control purely with their eye gaze.
Then after the child figures out that they have the power to control things by using their eyes to look at something specific, then eventually the speech therapist will introduce one word things like "YES", "NO", "GO", "STOP", "MORE", "HUNGRY", "THIRSTY", "POTTY" and so on, to help the child understand that they can communicate basic needs by simply looking at one word. They also usually attach an image to accompany the one word.
Then after the child gets really comfortable with communicating with the eye gaze device with playing the games and basic communication with the one word/one image choices, then the speech therapist will introduce two and three word choices along with a matching image such as "I'm hungry", "I'm thirsty", "I'm tired", ""Another Choice", "I want", "I hurt" and so on.
This is SUCH a Huge help for understanding what it is that your non verbal child wants or needs. It allows them the freedom to communicate whereas otherwise they wouldn't have been able to.
"We all just want to be seen and heard. No exceptions." -Danielle LaPorte
Eventually, a person can use an eye gaze device to say full sentences by using their eyes to type out complete sentences with a full keyboard on the eye gaze device.
Some non verbal people have even used an eye gaze device to write an entire book!
Totally mind blowing!
Below are just a few of the men who used their eye gaze device to write a book.
1.) A man named Joe Martin was diagnosed with ALS in 1994 and told he only had two years to live. He pursued a successful writing career using his eyegaze system.
2.) Clint Townsend of Rockwall Texas, also diagnosed with ALS wrote a christian thriller book in just under 2 years called "X to the Nth" using his eye gaze device.
3.) Another man named Kevin Enners who was born with cerebral palsy and dystonia disorders wrote and published his first novella called "The Crave" using the Tobii Eye Gaze device.
And just to think that if those people would have never had access to an eye gaze device, they would have been more or less trapped in their own bodies with no way of communicating.
How incredibly sad and totally unnecessary that would have been.
That is one of the main reasons why I wanted to be sure and let you all know about the incredible benefits of an eye gaze device in my blog post.
I want to make sure that every non verbal person who is mentally competent has the ability to have access to an eye gaze device so that they get to experience the joy and incredible freedom of being able to freely communicate their thoughts, hopes and desires with others.
So in summary, if you are a parent of a non verbal child or if you know of anyone who is non verbal, please let them know about the eye gaze device as a wonderful option for them to be able to communicate.
There are several different eye gaze devices out there. The Tobii Dynavox is just the name of one of them.
Please let me know in the comments below, do you know of anyone who is non verbal who you think could benefit from an eye gaze device?
~ If you are a parent of a special needs child, I would Love to have you in my private FB group. It is a safe environment, strictly for parents with special needs kids, where you can get the encouragement and support from other parents who can relate to what you are going through. The name of my private FB group is “Special Needs Parenting SOS.” ~ 😇💕