Summer camp helps kids who communicate non-verbally

Summer camp helps kids who communicate non-verbally
Posted at 4:17 PM, Jun 06, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-06 19:18:23-04

NAMPA — The campers at Advancing Adventures in Communicating (AAC) summer camp cannot communicate with spoken words due to disabilities like autism or cerebral palsy.

"Those are the kids that need speech generating devices or a way to communicate because they're non-verbal," said camp director Anne Cuhlmeier.

That doesn't mean they're any less excited to talk and play with new friends; Meet one of these active campers, 7-year-old Andres.

After tapping at his device, he gets it to generate this message: "My name is Andres."

These aren't iPads or a game; these devices are these children's voices, and the activities at camp challenge them to communicate more extensively.

"It's not just, I want red, or I want blue or the common things people think of with a kid that's non-verbal, they ask them yes/no questions, or they just ask them to request things; we want it to be more than that," said Cuhlmeier.

The speech generating device technology has made it easier for Andres to communicate with his family and peers, and it lets his personality shine through.

"What do you call a dinosaur in a car accident? A tyrannosaurus wrecks," said Andres Chavolla-Ortiz.

Andres' mother says the camp has improved her son's communication skills and confidence.

"A year ago, he had this awakening of, I'm not the only one," said Andres' mother Anabel Ortiz-Chavolla. "when he got here a year ago, he started seeing all the kids with different devices, and he was in awe."

If you're wondering just how much this camp means to these kids, Andres will tell you himself.

"This is a nice place," said Andres.