Magazine article The Exceptional Parent

Giving Your Child the Power of Speech

Magazine article The Exceptional Parent

Giving Your Child the Power of Speech

Article excerpt

Keys to Success With Private Insurance Funding

You and your child have tried every venue and your childs speech is imply not developing, or is so limited as to prevent the child from communicating daily living needs. You wonder if an electronic communication device is the answer for your child. Your insurance benefits include "durable medical equipment" and/or "prosthesis" and you would like to use the policy to fund a Communication prosthesis. How do you go about getting the device for your child? What are the components of a successful application?

Step 1

Comprehensive Assessment by an Integrated Assistive Technology Team.

An assessment service may be offered by the school system or a local agency, such as those who serve children with cerebral palsy, autism, and other physical and mental challenges. Healthcare providers, family members, education staff and other professionals who regularly assess and support exceptional children in meeting their goals should participate.

The team may be coordinated by a speech-language pathologist--a specialist in augmentative communication who can provide information on your child's communication skills, oral-motor status, and the outlook for successful use of various types of communication devices. Other important participants include an occupational therapist, to address positioning and support for use of a device; a physical therapist, for mobility issues and the mounting of any recommended device on a wheelchair; your child's teachers; the educational psychologist and/or behavior specialist; consulting professionals who may have special expertise in assistive technology; and a medical representative. Ideally, this should be your child's primary care physician, although input from a neurologist, orthopedist, or vision specialist may also be indicated.

Ask questions about the team and how it functions: What instrument will be used to document the team's findings and recommendations? (Examples: The Lifespace Access Profile, The Wisconsin Assistive Technology Initiative Student Information Guide, Assistive Technology Evaluware Report form, Assistive Technology Integrated Checklist, etc.). Are the participants experienced in providing assistive technology services and have they earned any credentials in the field? Will the assessment be integrated and simultaneous rather than a progression of serial, isolated assessments by various professionals who may or may not communicate with one another? Will your child try out proposed devices/equipment as an outcome of the assessment? Which team member takes responsibility for submitting the device application, once a recommendation is made?

Inclusion of family members in every step of the process results in significantly more successful outcomes, as they contribute their knowledge of the child at the assessment level, identify the home and community supports available, and ensure that the technology recommended will be the best match for the child's capabilities, interests and everyday communicative settings and demands.

Step 2:

Submit a complete device application to the insurance company.

The assessment process should generate a comprehensive application, which provides the insurance company with all necessary information concerning your child's diagnoses, diagnostic findings of the team, results of trials on various communication devices and "low-tech" systems, and the case for medical necessity for a voice prosthesis.

Before the assessment takes place, you should know who will be responsible for obtaining, coordinating and routing all the professional reports, supporting letters, device descriptions and other documents which make up a complete application. Frequent and thorough communication with this person is essential.

The reports of the Assistive Technology Assessment Team and the Augmentative Communication Skills Assessment are very important components of the application. …

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