Magazine article The Exceptional Parent

ATA Scrapbook of Success

Magazine article The Exceptional Parent

ATA Scrapbook of Success

Article excerpt

Self-esteem gets a boost

Technology doesn't have to be radical or specialized for a child to benefit greatly.

At TASK (Team of Advocates for Special Kids, the ATA center in Anaheim, Calif.), we have seen children with learning disabilities make great strides through access to computers and standard educational software.

Cecilia is a 12-year-old girl who attended our summer computer lab and, according to her mother, "got so good, I couldn't keep up with her." During the summer, Cecilia, who has learning disabilities, developed a real interest in computers.

Her mother found that Cecilia was able to grasp visual/spatial concepts on the computer that she otherwise didn't understand. She was also motivated to practice math, touch typing and writing.

In addition, Cecilia became familiar enough with the computer that other children would go directly to her with their questions, which was a tremendous boost to her self-esteem.

For Cecilia, the technology didn't have to be adapted to make it accessible--i t only needed to be available.

Discovering the right tools

Garth is an adorable three-year-old boy whose physical and visual disabilities make it difficult for him to interact with his environment. Some people may have felt he wasn't capable of interacting, but now that he has a computer with single-switch games, he is able to show everyone his abilities.

He visited the Computer Access Center (the ATA center in Santa Monica, Calif.) with his parents during a preschool recreation program for children with and without disabilities. At first, it was difficult to discern whether he was reacting to the cause-and-effect software he tried, but together we discovered the right tools. His current favorite is Children's Switch Progressions, newly released in an MS DOS version.

Taking control

Steven Lee is a 16-year-old student who had a brain stem stroke in May 1992. The speech/language pathologist at the hospital requested a consultation with TASC (Technology Assistance for Special Consumers, the ATA center in Huntsville, Ala.).

We first met Steven and his family late one Friday afternoon. Steven was using a respirator and could not talk or move his limbs, head or eyes.

TASC brought an environmental control unit that scans through eight lights, each corresponding to an electrical outlet in the room. All Steven needed to do was touch a switch with his chin to turn on a light, a fan, a television or any appliance plugged into those outlets. …

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