Question

What differences exist for children who are ventilator dependent vs. adults who are ventilator dependent?

Answer

Two important areas to consider are speech therapy and education. First, although PL 94-142 (IDEA) mandates that each child be provided a free and appropriate education, this is often not possible for children who are dependent on ventilators due to the risk of infection. Many often are home schooled, but need supplemental private tutoring in addition to the few hours per week provided by the school system. The school may also not provide support for services such as speech therapy, physical therapy and occupational therapy.

Children who are dependent on a ventilator may have significant delays in receptive or expressive speech. This is due in part to the disability, but also due to the lack of interaction with other children. A speech-language pathologist should be consulted to identify assistive technology devices and/or augmentative communication devices that will help the child effectively communicate.

(Deutsch and Kitchen. “The Ventilator Dependent Child.” In P. Deutsch and H. Sawyer (Ed.) A Guide to Rehabilitation. White Plains, NY: AHAB Press.)

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