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Movement Matters!! Children with SSPI Use Hands-free Support Walkers to Move, Play, Interact, and Learn

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Children with severe speech and physical impairment (SSPI) often are significantly limited in their abilities to move, explore, interact, and play. Along with accumulating evidence that motor development contributes to communication development and that delays in self-locomotion negatively affect future school performance, there is growing support that early intervention focusing on active exploration, playfulness, and problem solving promotes advancement of foundational skills across broad and lasting learning domains. To maximize participation, playfulness, and learning, every effort should be made to provide early movement and communication options that allow children with SSPI to do and experience what all children do and experience at school and home. We describe an intervention that is embedded within a carefully designed classroom program in which children with SSPI concurrently use hands-free support walkers and AAC
systems during specified academic and social activities. We introduce a range of considerations to guide selection and customization of hands-free support walkers to maximize function and allow children with SSPI to experience self-initiated upright mobility and gain access to activities, objects of interest, and interactions. We share video case examples demonstrating how various portable and stationary AAC tools are provided to support context-relevant communication as children move and play, We discuss ways to monitor the impact of this approach on children’s participation and progress. Children with the most severe levels of SSPI can experience movement, people, objects, and activities in ways that contribute to motivation, play, learning, achievement and fun!


Mary Hunt-Berg    
The Bridge School
United States

Christine Wright-Ott    
The Bridge School
United States

Joy McCollum-Franco    
The Bridge School
United States


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