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Boy Finds Voice at Age 6

New Speech Therapy Technology at RIC at Silver Cross Helps Patients Communicate

Joliet, IL (May 3, 2011)— Many of us spend countless hours voicing our opinions through daily conversations, phone calls, text messages, emails and social media. Communication is taken for granted because we live in an environment where we can share feelings, desires, and accomplishments instantaneously. However, this does not come easily to everyone. Andrew “Drew” Grey of Frankfort was diagnosed with severe childhood apraxia of speech when he was 3 years old.

img_0093Childhood apraxia of speech is a motor speech disorder. Children who have childhood apraxia of speech (speech apraxia) have difficulty planning and executing the precise movements of the lips, tongue, and jaw which are necessary for intelligible speech.

Photo Caption: Andrew “Drew” Grey of Frankfort  is all smiles. With the help of speech therapy, he is able to communicate and express himself much better.  

“He was always a really good baby, but he was too quiet and didn’t say much,” said Toni Lee Grey, Drew’s mother. With a strong desire to understand her son’s needs and help him express himself, Toni Lee, along with her husband Ken, sought help. Drew was prescribed intensive speech therapy at The Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago at Silver Cross Hospital along with an on-going school-based treatment program to help him express himself effectively.

“Speech Therapy was the best thing we could do for him,” says Toni Lee Grey. 

Drew is now 6 years old, and is progressing every day. His speech therapy program includes the use of a speech generating augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) device which helps him communicate when his words are difficult to understand due to speech apraxia. With the addition of an AAC device to Grey’s arsenal of tools to communicate, he can share what is on his mind as well as get the needed support to develop his language skills. Grey’s family is hoping that with regular speech therapy, the AAC device, and aid from support groups, Grey’s apraxia will not have such an impact on his life.

What is Augmentative and Alternative Communication?
Augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) devices give a voice to people who are unable to communicate effectively  due to a variety of diagnoses such as: amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS or Lou Gehrig's Disease), stroke, traumatic brain injury, paralysis, cerebral palsy, autism spectrum disorder, apraxia, and more. The speech language pathologists  at The Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago at Silver Cross Hospital have all been trained by DynaVox  and are a part of the  “DREAM” program, which is designed  to train  speech language pathologists on how to evaluate  patients who may qualify for AAC devices and guide them in attaining their own dreams of self-expression. After the patient has their AAC device, the speech language pathologists also provide patient training on how to use the device in everyday life. Silver Cross is the only facility to provide this service in Will County.

“The biggest issue for people, who can’t express themselves effectively --young or old, is frustration. When people can’t express themselves, they tend to shut down. Everybody deserves the chance to have their thoughts heard” says Christen Both, Speech Language Pathologist (SLP) with The Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago at Silver Cross Hospital. 

Grey’s device is speech generating, which means after he selects a series of icons, the device speaks the message using a voice that sounds like a child. The device is a Windows-based computer and new content is easily programmed. Since using the device, Grey’s language skills have steadily grown.

“I love Silver Cross Hospital,” says Ken Grey, Drew’s father. “Christen is always teaching us new skills and makes sure we are practicing at home. Just like speaking is part of our life every day, speech therapy is also part of our daily life, and we try to make every day an opportunity for Drew to learn and grow.”

Free Screenings during May
In honor of Better Speech and Hearing Month, The Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago at Silver Cross Hospital will offer free pediatric speech and language screenings as well as adult swallowing screenings throughout the month of May.  Call (815)740-7110 to make an appointment.

About the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago at Silver Cross Hospital
Silver Cross Hospital and The Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago (RIC) have teamed up to expand post-acute physical medicine and rehabilitation services in Will County and the southwest Chicagoland communities. The partnership provides world-class rehabilitation care for a range of conditions for patients close to home. Silver Cross is the only healthcare facility in the area with this breadth of services in partnership with RIC. Together, Silver Cross and RIC provide rehabilitation services in inpatient and outpatient care settings at three locations. Additionally, the RIC team provides physical therapy services for patients on the hospital’s medical and surgical floors. For more information about RIC at Silver Cross, call (815) 740-7110 or visit

About Silver Cross Hospital
Silver Cross Hospital is a not-for-profit health care provider serving Will County and southwest suburban communities since 1895.  Silver Cross has been recognized as a Thomson Reuters 100 Top Hospitals National Award winner for the last seven consecutive years and as one of America’s Most Customer Friendly Hospitals by the American Alliance of Healthcare Providers. With over 2,800 employees, physicians and volunteers, Silver Cross operates a 304-bed acute care hospital and eight satellite facilities providing outpatient services and physician offices. Construction has begun to build a state-of-the-art replacement hospital opening in 2012 in New Lenox.  To learn more about Silver Cross Hospital or a referral to a physician on staff, visit or call 1-888-660-HEAL (4325).


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