By Nicole Brewer

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – For nine-year-old Andrew Patitucci, music was once the only form of expression. Born with cornelia de lange syndrome, the developmental disorder affected his size and speech.

“It was very difficult for him. There were times when he and I were so frustrated because he would be trying to tell me something and I would have no idea what he was saying,” said Beth Patitucci, Andrew’s Mom.

Unable to tell his mother when he was hungry or in pain, Andrew often threw tantrums and had problems at school.

“It was very frustrating, heart breaking,” Beth said.

That is, until an iPad application provided Andrew with a voice.

With proloquo2go, Andrew selects icons, words and phrases, which are then read aloud by the software.

The app also features a keyboard, which allows users to communicate exactly what’s on their minds.

It’s something speech pathologist Dina Weitzman says makes a big difference.

“They’re able to have relationships with their families. They’re able to communicate with their doctors, which is important. They are able to often times talk over the phone, which they were not able to do before,” explained Weitzman.

At $189, she says the app is a good alternative to typical augmentative and alternative communication devices. Not only are they much larger, they cost between $5,000 and $8,000.

“As long as they have the physical ability to use it on a smaller device, absolutely. It’s a much cheaper option than a dedicated AAC device. So, it’s more accessible for people to get and quicker to get,” said Weitzman.

But for Beth, it’s about more than cost.

“Having this device enabled him to say I’m here, I can hear you. I know what’s going on. And I have thoughts and I have feelings and he gets to express them.”

So far, proloquo2go is only available on the iPad, iPhone and iPod touch. You can purchase and download the software on the app store.

Reported by Nicole Brewer, CBS Philly