Jacob Alford, 4, has 'found his voice' thanks to The University
of Southern Mississippi's Children's Center for Communication and
A student at
the center since he was 5 months old, Alford was diagnosed at birth
with a condition that consists of deficient psychomotor development.
He was therefore referred to the center so that his developmental
growth could be monitored. The early intervention services that
Jacob has received include special education, occupational and physical
therapy, and speech-language therapy. During the past four years,
Jacob has spent a significant amount of time developing effective
communication continues to be the biggest barrier to overcome, other
means of communication have been taught, such as gestures, signs
and picture symbols. Recently, Alford was evaluated to determine
whether he would be a candidate for special communication equipment,
and he demonstrated great success using the device during testing.
With this device, Alford now has a 'voice.' He can tell his teachers
or family "I want my drink" or "I love you."
Center has helped so many children from our county and around the
state. They are a blessing sent from God," says Alford's mother,
could sign these concepts before, the reality of his ability to
audibly 'say' these words made him beam with excitement. He is now
almost five years old, and help from the center will continue. He
will be transferring to his local school in Lawrence County in the
fall. With help from his speech pathologist from The Children's
Center, Alford, his parents, and his teachers at his new school
will learn how to use his new communication device so that he can
effectively communicate with others in his environment.
at the center is not unique. After several years of intervention
at the center, Hannah Southerland made her successful transition
into the Lawrence County public school setting. She, like Alford,
uses a communication device to verbally interact with others. "The
teachers at The Children's Center saw so much in Hannah and built
on that and made it possible for her to be where she is today,"
said Southerland's mother, Tina Southerland.
and Southerland's families are currently supporting The Children's
Center in a one-time major fund-raising campaign. The center is
selling raffle tickets for a donated Browning B-80 12-gauge Ducks
Unlimited shotgun still in its case. Monies received from this raffle
and generous donations will be combined to help the center raise
$350, 000 to modify building space to make it appropriate for their
very special children, graduate students, families, and trainees.
These modifications will allow The Children's Center to continue
to make a difference in the lives of the children it serves and
the thousands of children who will ultimately be served by the graduates
and practitioners who receive training for this very special population.
If you would
like to help, raffle tickets may be purchased from either family
or at Office Machine Center and Lawrence County Sporting Goods.
To give a tax-deductible donation, contact The Southern Miss Children's
Center for Communication and Development at (601) 266-5222.