Special Needs and Technology
My first understanding of the power of computer technology to aid children with special needs came from home and not from school. My son has ADD and had some fine motor coordination problems as well that started to show up in 9th grade. His handwriting was horrendous and he could not convert his intelligent verbal ability to written form. So, he constantly faced a huge discrepancy between the high level of verbal discourse with his teachers and classmates and his essay and composition grades.
Word processing gave him an amazing tool to compensate for this problem. Just having access to a word processing program on his computer allowed him to excel in his written work. He now works on Capitol Hill doing briefing and research reports for legislators and advocates.
I mention this because, as a veteran public school educator and administrator for the past 35 years, it was only in the last 10 years that I understood the promise of technology for students with special needs.
Access to computers connected to the Internet alone can make a huge difference for these children. We are working on providing access for every child in our high school system to networked computers. We are training our teachers to design and upload to their servers, digital learning units which allow for integration of all modalities. For the first time in my memory, the power of technology makes it possible to reach every student in a diverse classroom setting. In a sense, we can provide individual learning plans for each student regardless of need.
Without a huge investment of dollars for special equipment, access to computers linked to the internet can resolve so many of the problems our special needs population encounters. I am truly excited about the future of this force for systemic change in the way our children learn and the way we teach.
Consultant for Educational Technology / Grants Management
CT. State Dept. of Education
Regional Vocational-Technical Schools
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