Cognitive Testing Using Tobii I-15 Eye Gaze System (IA UCEDD/LEND)

August 2, 2016

Typically cognitive assessments have not been reliably completed for individuals with significant motor impairments and complex communication needs. However with advances in technology, cognitive assessments are possible when early intervention of a communication system has been introduced. Psychologist, Angela L. Smith, PsyD and Speech-Language Pathologist, Laura M. Bohnenkamp, MA, CCC-SLP at the Center for Disabilities and Development, Iowa's University Center for Excellence on Disabilities used eye gaze technology to assess cognitive status in a patient.

A 6-year old girl with an extensive medical history including hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE), cerebral palsy, dysarthria, and dysphagia was assessed using eye gaze technology.  She was found to have average verbal cognitive abilities. 

Select subtests from the Wechsler Intelligence Scales for Children- 5th Edition (WISC-V) and Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children- 4th Edition (WISC-IV) Integrated Version along with the Tobii I-15 Speech Generating Device with Eye Gaze Module were used to assess her level of cognitive functioning. Test items were scanned and programmed in the Tobii Communicator Software. 

At the time of the assessment, she had received two years of speech therapy for functional communication using eye gaze.  She was communicating in a grid of 70 items, navigating independently, and creating 3-4 symbol utterances.  When she was sure of her response she would signal to the speech pathologist to unpause her Tobii so that she could provide the response.  She would activate "I don't know" when she was unsure but was encouraged to guess.

 "With better understanding of cognitive strengths, weaknesses, and ability level, health care providers can assist in providing recommendations to help facilitate learning and improve quality of life. When parents, teachers, and therapists have a better understanding of cognitive abilities, more appropriate and realistic expectations can be achieved", Laura Bohnenkamp, MA, CCC-SLP.

Early implementation of communication systems allow children to:

  • functionally interact in their world
  • better communicate with others
  • socialize with peers
  • reduce behavioral frustration
  • and enhance their ability to learn in an academic setting