WALLINGFORD — Aiming to bridge a communication gap for members of the community, a speech pathologist recently introduced a communication board at a town park.
“This is about the kids that I serve,” said Lynn LaValley, owner of Therapy for Language and Communication. “Increasing awareness and acceptance for individuals with different needs is so important. This is a step in the right direction”
Along with several other speech pathologists, LaValley works with individuals with complex communication needs. Through her work, she offers alternative communication for those that need it.
In collaboration with the town’s Parks and Recreation and Health departments, on LaValley unveiled the first playground communication board at Doolittle Park on Wednesday.
The color-coded board allows individuals to walk to the board and point to what they would like to communicate, including “swing,” “jump,” “stop,” “yes,” and “no.”
Both Ariana Palerno, 14, and Rylee Sullivan, 17, longtime clients of LaValley, use iPads to communicate on a daily basis. However, the simplicity of the board may be easier while playing at the park.
“Technology is great but can sometimes cause difficulties.” Roseanne Champagne, Palerno’s grandmother said. “Having the board in the park allows us to kind of go back to the basics.”
Jennifer Worthington, Sullivan’s mom, spoke highly of LaValley and the work she does with her daughter and others.
“I know [LaValley] has had this idea for a while.” Worthington said. “She is the driving force behind creating this and getting it here so kids can use it to communicate.”
Mayor William Dickinson Jr. and Parks and Recreation Director Kenny Michaels both attended the ceremony.
“She saw something that was in need in our community,” Michaels said. “This is a great addition to the park to help park-goers who have that challenge of communicating with their peers, families and friends of what they want to do at the park.”
Dickinson said it is great that the board will relieve frustration from individuals who have difficulties sharing their wants and needs.
“This is a dream come true,” LaValley said.
“We want to get the word out there that no matter the different ability you have, you can share your thoughts, feelings and wants.”