When Peyton was nine months old, she was diagnosed with cerebral palsy. Immediately, Nadine and Mike began to receive care and guidance from the early intervention team at the hospital. It wasn’t long after that they met with the Seating Team to get a specialized high chair and the speech and language pathologists began working with her to try to help her form sounds.
When she was about four years old, Peyton had her first consultation with the Augmentative Communication and Educational Technologies Team. They introduced her to a device that she could operate with head switches to choose pictures with which to communicate her needs and thoughts. Due to her physical limitations, Peyton found it particularly exhausting to navigate to the right word, but it definitely inspired her to start to communicate.
As Peyton entered school, it was clear that she belonged in a regular classroom setting as she was exceptionally bright. She was very social and loved being around the other kids in her class. She had a communication device operated by head switches that she used at home in the evenings and on the weekend, but she managed school with the assistance of an aid.
Recently, the ACETS team introduced the idea of an eye gaze communication system to Peyton and her family. Using specialized cameras, this system allows Peyton to control the screen and computer commands with the stare of her eyes. By holding her gaze on a button on the screen, it activates that command. Thanks to the ACETS team and the community-funded lending library of technology, she was able to “test drive” a couple versions of the system prior to committing to a particular model. Currently, Peyton uses the device at school and home. In addition to helping her communicate and form sentences, it is set up to allow her to control her TV and turn on lights giving her some more independence and autonomy. The sky is the limit in terms of what Peyton will be able to control with her gaze!
The community-funded ACETS program strives to ensure that all kids have a voice. The eye gaze communication system is opening up a world of possibilities for Peyton. Her family is grateful for the supports from the team to ensure that Peyton is not left behind…her physical limitations do not represent cognitive limitations. In fact, Peyton has her sights set on becoming a world-changing mathematician!