Continuing to support early intervention through Pace’s assistive technology loan library

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Early childhood is a time of critical development and for babies and young children who have had a difficult start in life. Their families may be worried or concerned about their child’s development and future.

Often, they are looking for advice, support and therapy for their child to give them knowledge, confidence and hope.

Pace is a ground-breaking charity that provides access to specialist education and therapy services to children aged 0 to 18 years who have neuro-disabilities, such as cerebral palsy.

Young boy sat on a blue soft mat using an assistive technology tablet computer with an adult watching him

Importance of early intervention

CL Medilaw and Pace understand the difficulties that families face when trying to access local authority or NHS-funded services.

We also understand that early intervention is so important for babies and young children with cerebral palsy or development delays, to ensure that therapy begins while the brain is still developing.

This can significantly improve motor functions and cognitive abilities and positively change a child’s development path. It also helps families to learn how to better meet their child’s needs from an early age.

The role of assistive technology in early development

Young child in supportive seat playing with assistive technology toys

Pace can help parents further understand the complex needs of their child, learn new skills and reduce concerns.

Their approach is centred around ensuring that all children have the tools and equipment to enable them to have as much independence as possible in their everyday lives.

For many children, play, communication and access to the world around them can be very difficult. Being motivated to try is also very hard when the task takes a huge amount of effort. This is where assistive technology comes in.

The Pace assessment

Pace’s skilled Occupational Therapy Assistive Technology Lead, Luke Thompson, will meet with the family to assess their needs and understand their goals. This might be from being able to use a switch to open a door independently, change a TV channel, dressing themselves, or sitting at the dinner table with their family. Luke and his team will then provide support to help with the child’s development, learning and achieving the goals set.

Some parents cannot afford to purchase the recommended equipment or are concerned about spending money on a piece of equipment that may hinder, rather than aid their child’s progress.

The Pace loan library

The Pace assistive technology (AT) loan library will play a huge part in enabling children and families to access the technology they need without having to worry about the financial stress of purchasing the recommended equipment.

Luke explains:

Our approach is to try and understand what a child and their family need before deciding on recommendations. The child is our primary focus, and our aim is not, ‘let me get you a piece of equipment’, our aim is let me see how we can improve that child’s physical, sensory and communication skills and get them to independently play. We usually take a holistic approach considering all the child’s needs and working closely with the family and any other therapists involved.

He also added:

There is nothing more frustrating than carrying out an assessment, recommending some suitable equipment to trial and then it then taking several months, sometimes years for the child to have access to this. By this point it can be too late. The AT Loan Library allows a child to have access to the tools and equipment sooner and hopefully enabling them to achieve their goals.

The AT loan library is a service that allows families to access a range of equipment to help their child’s independence.

The library currently has a wide range of AT equipment from switch technology, environmental controls to sensory aids.

Families can borrow various assistive devices, such as communication aids and sensory equipment to support their child’s unique needs. By offering temporary access to these devices the loan library enables families to evaluate their child’s compatibility with assistive technology before making significant financial commitments.

Two young children side by side, one stood beside the other in a mobility device called bugzi, part of the Pace assistive technology loan library

Accessing the loan library

An assessment is carried out in the family home or at the Pace Centre and, following that assessment, the equipment is loaned to the family.

Currently the service is only available to children and families who attend or have connections with the Pace Centre. However, over the coming months there are plans to expand this service to all families who may need assistance.

In addition to the loan library, Luke is also available to undertake private assessments.

For further information you can contact the Pace Centre

Case study - Maisie

For more examples of the important work they do, you can read Maisie’s story. Maisie was 6 weeks old when she was first referred to the Pace Centre and has been benefiting from their incredible work ever since.

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