Tuesday, June 16, 2009

A Mountain Ranch Visit with a Todd's Paralysis Student for Summer AT



Summer is here and kids are at home. Are you looking for a tool to sharpen skills and keep them engaged over the summer months?

Today I made a home visit, driving through our local Indian Reservation of the Cayuse and Umatilla, winding along the Umatilla River out into ranch country. I was taking a laptop loaded with Clicker 5 by Crick Software, out to the most beautiful piece of heaven you could want to see - straight out of a Louis L'Amour western. I drove up a gravel drive, under the hanging brand sign of the ranch and drove up to the main house, where a little cowpoke was waving me down on the porch. The family greeted me and I had a chance to sit with their little girl who just finished the first grade.
Mandy, (I will call her for this post) has Todd's Paralysis, a side-effect of epilepsy that comes on as a type of seizure. She has several in the early waking hours of the morning before school on a regular basis. They have effected her right side and she uses her left hand to do most things. Her speech is pretty good but she has to put alot of effort out to be understood.
Her teacher at school shared that she has mastered the material for first grade, but has difficulty writing and so she cannot get her work done and handed in at school with the other students in her class. The hope was that there would be something she could use with a laptop to type and print her work.
I got out a loaner laptop loaded with Clicker 5 to leave with them to play with for a month or so. Clicker 5 has a talking word processor window and a pop-up keyboard on the screen. It also has editable buttons in various templates that allow you to build word walls, build your own guided sentence writing activities complete with sound, animation and pictures that correspond to the words. My hope was that Mandy could begin typing using the mouse on the pop up keyboard and use word wall buttons where possible as well to practice writing skills over the summer in prep for fall.

We set up the introduction demo that let her go through the program and see how it works and try various activities. She needs to develop mouse skills so she can access the buttons on the screen, but with guided prtactice from mom and dad, she was pointing out the correct words for fruits to match pictures and her reading skills and word recognition was excellent.
I left them with dad building a word wall page with mommy, daddy, her horse, ranch, etc. They were building a sentence for her to tell about her horse when I left. The family was up and running with the basics to use the program within 15 minutes.
If you have a young student home for the summer that needs text to speech, picture linking to words and opportunities to build dynamic pages for inspiring writing, check out Clicker 5. The cost is $229 for Windows/Mac.

All the best to you,

Lon
Lon Thornburg is an assistive technology specialist and professional development trainer who lives in Oregon and serves 12 districts in 7 counties. He hosts the No Limits 2 Learning Blog and The No Limits 2 Learning Live Talk Show on Blog Talk Radio. He is sharing as a contributing writer on LD LIVE!

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