Friday, January 8, 2010

Teen With Autism Hopes To Find His Voice

MIAMI -- Raquel Ferreiro has a simple wish for her 13-year-old son Anthony: ``I want him to someday talk too much.''
But for what most parents may take for granted, Ferreiro can only hope. Anthony has severe autism, and not only has problems communicating but also has problems making eye contact.
Anthony has a very limited vocabulary -- he uses some words for food, but struggles to be understood and gets angry when he can't get his message across.
His social worker Isabel Castano, a support coordinator for Unike Support Services who nominated Anthony for Wish Book, wants to buy him a device that can be used for teaching and also records audio. Anthony could use it as a tool to communicate.
``He can improve his social skills, which is not only important for him but for the family,'' Castano said. ``He's going to learn more words and most likely decrease his aggressive behaviors.''
The device, called ``Cheap Talk 8 -- 1-Level Communicators Direct,'' costs about $200. That's out of reach for Anthony's parents -- his father Armando works two jobs, as a valet and security guard, and his mother works part-time as a security guard. Their jobs don't have health insurance to help cover the costs, and the Medicaid benefits they receive to help with Anthony's care don't apply to such devices.

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