This sounds like a far-fetched dream, but Nicolelis – a big soccer fan – is talking to the Brazilian government to make it a reality. He has created an international consortium called the Walk Again Project, consisting of non-profit research institutions in the United States, Brazil, Germany and Switzerland. Their goal is to create a “high performance brain-controlled prosthetic device that enables patients to finally leave the wheelchair behind.” Read Read More…
Frequently Asked Questions
What are elliecards™?
elliecards™ are small laminated photographs of foods and toys commonly used by children and educators, including speech and occupational therapists. The cards are affixed to a master binder with hook and loop fasteners (commonly called Velcro®). They come assembled in a binder organized into categories by plastic color-coded pages. elliecards™ can serve as an augmentative communication system for young children whose language development is delayed.
Why were elliecards™developed?
elliecards™ were created by parents to bridge the communications gap between them and their child with autism. They recognized the need for an augmentative communication system that was easily taught to young children who demonstrated difficulty in pairing drawn pictures with real choices. Photographic images of the desired objects proved to be less abstract, and therefore more accessible for a very young child. With autism and speech disorders or difficulties being identified in younger and younger children, the founders of elliecards™ saw the need for products geared toward young toddlers. When this system worked well for their daughter, elliecards™ were developed with the hope of helping other children, parents, therapists and educators.
When a child’s language development is delayed, why is it important to offer a supplementary way for him or her to communicate?
There are several answers to this question. First and foremost, offering children a means to communicate will help to decrease the frustration they experience when trying unsuccessfully to convey their needs and wants. This ability to exchange desires helps children feel less alienated from the spoken language world, and gives them a sense of control over their environment. Furthermore, if implemented correctly, the use of elliecards™ presents unique opportunities for reciprocal communication, promoting increased levels of eye contact and other joint attention behaviors. Most importantly, having a child with autism partake in a non-verbal form of communication early on is thought to promote overall language development, offering him or her a successful means to interact with others.
Who can implement elliecards™?
It is important that elliecards™ are used correctly. They should be implemented with the help of an educator or therapist who is familiar with the use of augmentative communication systems. Many speech therapists and teachers who work in the developmental disability community have experience in facilitating language through the use of pictures. elliecards™ can be used by anyone who is familiar with how to exchange images properly, including parents, speech pathologists, occupational therapists, behavioral tutors, physical therapists, floor time and pivotal response training therapists, siblings, and teachers. When made available to a child’s entire intervention team, elliecards™ can be used effectively and consistently.
Where can I use elliecards™?
elliecards™ are meant to supplement a child’s language throughout his or her day. They can be implemented within the home, while travelling, in the car, at school, posted by a desired object, or on a communication board. elliecards™ are also ideal for use in therapy clinics and classrooms.
What are some of the functional uses of elliecards™?
Apart from daily language, elliecards™ can be used in an activity schedule, to prepare a child for a routine transition, for predictability or anticipation of an activity or reinforcer, or when a choice between two things is being given.
Why are elliecards™labeled with written words?
There are two reasons. When an exchange is made, all those implementing the elliecards™ can consistently emphasize the same word to the child. This repetition of words aids in language development. Secondly, as the child sees the elliecards™ over and over, it can be beneficial for that child to also view the letter characters and possibly aid in sight-reading as he or she develops.
What images are on the elliecards™?
The set of 192 cards contains a variety of foods, snack reinforcers and toys commonly used by young children and therapists. There are also cards indicating places such as potty, bath and outside as well as a selection of colors.
How can elliecards™work to increase social behaviors in my child?
elliecards™ can give children who would normally rely on hand-leading and crying as their means for communication a way to request what they want, suggest an activity, or report a need (e.g. use of the potty). By opening up these lines of communication, elliecards™ can make the social world a more pleasant and accessible place for children with autism or other developmental disabilities. elliecards™ can give them a sense of control over their environment, further inviting them to engage and trust the people who surround them.
What may be some of the benefits of having elliecards™in my home or practice?
Children who are accustomed to using augmentative communication systems may quickly recognize the mechanism by which elliecards™ work. Because the images are real and not drawn, they may be able to identify the objects with few or no pairings. If used consistently over time, elliecards™ can help to decrease the child’s frustration, resulting in fewer difficult behaviors and a more content feeling for everybody. elliecards™ can be valuable in creating predictability, smooth transitions, and important moments of reciprocal communication between parent and child.
Why a complete set of elliecards™?
elliecards™ were born out of trial and error with real children. Their design reflects a commitment to quality, durability and safety. elliecards™ require no assembly; they are ready for implementation immediately. In contrast, some of the picture cards on the market are sold in sheets requiring the customer to cut them into pieces and affix hook & loop fasteners. This assembly is time consuming and the materials required can be expensive.
The images used for the 192 elliecards™ are all professionally photographed in a consistent manner minimizing any distractions from or confusion regarding the subject matter. The lamination applied is extra thick to prevent the cards from bending or creasing even after years of use. The rounded corners eliminate sharp edges and a potential hazard to small children.
Because a child’s set of elliecards™ may be shared and used by parents, siblings and therapists all in the same household or school environment, the cards need to be kept in an organized fashion that will stand up over time. The easy-to-use binder, color-coded laminated pages and extra large hook and loop fasteners hold up to repeated use and are easily cleaned.
In addition, the elliecards™ set comes with a “choice board”, a smaller card with hook and loop fasteners, allowing the parent or therapist to pre-select and isolate a limited number of picture cards from which the child can make selections.
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