Assistive Technology

When I first think of Assistive Technology I often think of my son.  He was a child who could not read or write.  He described it as the words all forming one black line and running off the paper.  I took him to many Doctors with no definitive diagnosis as to what was happening for him.  They felt there was a genetic issue, as all the boys in his fathers family could not read or write including his father.  His father did own his own business and was successful even not having any reading or writing skills. When school started this proved to be a definite problem for my son and our family.  Without a positive diagnosis there was no help offered to him.  He became frustrated and started to act out.  He could not read what was asked of him, yet was expected to meet certain mile stones.  He cried when he brought books home with challenges to read so many of them.  I used to read them to him.  It was a struggle throughout school.  Many thought he was an ADHD child  – but was he really ?  or possibly a child with just a disability.  I tried medication with no success.  The medications made him catatonic.  When my son reached high school we moved him to a school that said would work with him.  The teacher there got him a computer that read to him.  Any questions on exams were done orally.  He passed all of his grade 12.  The feeling I had brought me to tears, someone helped my son.  He was able to use a computer at this high school that worked with him.  I was no longer being called into conferences saying my son was disrupting everyone, and causing issues.  He was keeping up with assignments.  He was not the delinquent child many had thought him to be throughout school.   Assistive Technology can provide certain individuals options that were never available to them prior.  I remember going to supper with the father of my son, and he always said  “I will have what your having”.  I never realized he could not read the menu.  I cant imagine something as simple as eating in a restaurant being such a hardship for someone.  Could technology open these doors for people in more ways than we think ? I believe these assistive technologies could benefit both the individual, the families and friends but also the organizations they could work for.  When I look at my son, he is a bright person with so much potential.  He currently works in a trade profession as he is more hands on than academic.  Could technology open the doors to other avenues that many of these individuals would have never considered before ?  I work in the nursing field, with the progression toward computerized charting, and being able to verbally dictate words it may  increase who maybe could be part of this profession. This is only one aspect of the possibilities of assistive technology.  Whole new worlds could open for some people and their families.  I truly believe being supportive to children with no diagnosis of the barrier they are experiences would be beneficial.  How do we get funding for people without a diagnosis though ?

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7 thoughts on “Assistive Technology

  1. Lorraine thanks for sharing your story about your son. It helps to put things into perspective and realize not only how important assistive technology is, but also how important it is to have teachers who want to make the lives of their students better and are willing to go the extra mile to do so.

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  2. Thank you for sharing your personal story Lorraine. One of the readings this week questioned what teachers do/turn to when they cannot teach a child to read and initially I wanted to puff out my chest and respond with “Of course I can get any child to read!”. I spend so much of my every day life reading with children and learning to decode this complex written language but your post reminded me that it isn’t about my ego…the idea that I should be able to teach every child to read, but rather ensuring ALL students are given what they need to succeed within life. Assistive tech will be the only answer for some students and that is okay and maybe we would improve some students’ school experiences greatly by recognizing this from an earlier age than what your son had to experience. Thanks for sharing!

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  3. Thank you for the comment. This was a hard blog for me to write. I did not want anyone to be offended, it was just our experience. Every child/person is different. Being able to decide and help that individual can be challenging. It is tough when our system lacks the resources for many. By making a small differnce in one life can mean so much to them. Thank you again

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  4. This post brought tears to my eyes Lorraine. I sometimes feel like I “just don’t get it” because I have never had a personal struggle like many of my students do, and like your son did. Thank you so much for sharing.

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  5. Wow great post Lorraine and thanks for sharing. I think it is really important for you to tell your story as there are many that are going through this. It’s not always easy to diagnose a learning disability and find the right tool for kids. With persistence and trying different AT’s untli you find one that works is a priority.

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  6. Lorraine, thank you so much for sharing your story. I really can’t imagine the struggles your son experienced … going through all of those years at school without being able to read or write. Thank goodness you were able to find a school that had the AT tools to support him. His is truly a success story. In a class I took this summer (Adult Literacy), we talked a lot about the “tricks” that illiterate people use to get through life. People who cannot read or write devise brilliant ways of getting around this. I hope that, as technology continues to improve and become more accessible, they will no longer have to fake their way through life. Thanks again for your personal story – it really hit home with me.

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