Students To Speak Up Through Grant

By Anna Yee

November 2, 2011 Updated Nov 3, 2011 at 10:56 AM CDT

EAST PEORIA, Ill. -- Mandi Arnsman usually has a lot to say. She's the speech language pathologist at Shute Elementary School. But now, she's speechless.

Arnsman teaches dozens of three to five-year-olds how to improve their communication delays. But she says the biggest obstacle is not what she has to work with, it's what she doesn't have.

"The most challenging part would be lack of technology that I have right now," said Arnsman. "I'm trying to do different things. There's a lot of apps for iPhones and iPads and things like that the kids love and are very animated. You need all different modalities to learn new skills, especially with the little ones."

She'll use the HOI 19 News and CEFCU $1,000 grant to buy an iPad and other software to amp up her lessons.

"The earlier, the better," said Arnsman.

A recent study at a school in Toronto shows more than 70 percent of its most severely developmentally-disabled children who used iPads have had some increase in their communications.

The principal at Shute Elementary says he wants to open his school doors to that opportunity.

"An iPad gives them that ability to communicate where they can just push an icon and show them what they need, drag it to a spot and explain what they need," said Brad Wood, Shute Elementary Principal.

"The budget crunch in the state has really hit us hard. We welcome all the support we can get."