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ATA scrapbook of success.

Tooling up for success

Joe is 19 years old and interested in auto mechanics, farming and computers. He works part time from his home and attends Madison Central High School in his home district.

Our earliest recollections of Joe are as a five-year-old in what was then a segregated classroom for "primary educable mentally handicapped" students. For two years, Joe struggled with the early concepts of reading using traditional reading materials mandated by the Board of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES) as modified by his teacher.

Joe moved on to the first computer introduced into that class in the form of an Apple II manufactured by Bell and Howell with virtually no software. Four years later, with the explosion of technologybased tools, Joe's teacher left BOCES to work with the Resource Center for Independent Living to develop the Techspress Program.

Techspress, the ATA center in Utica, N.Y., met Joe again when he was in a segregated high school classroom to which he was bused every day. Joe's teacher called Techspress after recognizing that Joe's educational abilities were hindered by the lack of appropriate resources. She did not know much about technology, but she knew there had to be a tool that could help Joe's visual perceptual skills.

Joe readily speaks about the frustration of not being able to read his own handwriting. When Techspress was invited to the high school to see exactly what Joe was doing, he took us over to his Apple IIe computer and explained how he used it. He worked with his face about six inches from the monitor and moved through his word processor with great difficulty.

At the high school, Joe was successfully mainstreamed into science classes. He wanted to be mainstreamed into all of the classes and attend his home district school. To assist in this transition, Joe needed access to a computer at all times, for everything from taking notes and tests to drawing science graphs and writing English essays.

After discussing the options with Joe, we determined that he would need a portable word processor with large print on the screen and large print output, So Joe, his family, his teacher and Techspress began looking for something to meet those qualifications. We found a portable word processor/typewriter that had large print both on the screen and in print. Now it was funding time.

It took a full year of working with the Committee on Special Education to secure the funding for this device as well as an assurance that he could take it home with him and use it when he went back to his home district. Joe now attends Madison Central School and is exactly where he wants to be.

Untapped potential unleashed

From a parent at our ATA center in Honolulu, Hawaii: Our 18year-old son, Glen, has a seizure disorder with mental retardation. For 15 years, 135 teachers, aides and therapists have worked with Glen, primarily in the areas of attending skills and challenging behavior patterns. The focus on everyday skills replaced efforts in academics five years ago. According to assessment teams, Glen's overall functioning was in the severely mentally retarded range.

Six years ago, Glen's interest in a borrowed Apple IIe prompted efforts to include computer work in his IEP; however, this request was ignored. Six months ago, Glen had his first session with Aloha Special Technology Access Center, Inc. (ALOHA STAC). Two sessions later, the executive director of the center shopped, ordered, delivered and installed our son's Macintosh with an Apple lie emulation card.

Today, Glen's attention span reaches five hours in one sitting at the computer. Mastery in using the mouse, opening and closing files, switching to Apple lie programs and printing has given our son hours of enjoyment. One program requires 14 steps to get into, which Glen does with ease.

Our family delights in watching his recognition of letters and numbers increase and his eagerness to independently explore and learn new programs. Seeing Glen's cognitive skills develop in such a short time reinforces our belief that Glen has a lot of untapped potential. The key tool for promoting his individual growth is the computer.

The Alliance for Technology Access (ATA)is a network of community-based technology resource centers dedicated to providing access to the assistive technologies and related services that enable people with disabilities to achieve productivity, independence and success according to their individual needs and interests.

ATA centers serve people of all ages with disabilities of all kinds and have comprehensive, multifaceted programs that reflect their specific community needs, as well as local talents and resources. For more information about the ATA and the center nearest you, call (800) 992-8111 or (51 O) 528-0747.
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Title Annotation:incorporating technology into the lives of exceptional families; two success stories from the Alliance for Technology Access' files
Publication:The Exceptional Parent
Date:Jul 1, 1993
Previous Article:Family support programs growing: more states offer an increasingly diverse menu of family support services than ever before.
Next Article:When Your Child Goes to School After an Injury.

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