Friday, December 19, 2008

Age...

So it's 10:45 on a Friday night, I probably should be in bed, but I can't seem to get a question out of my mind. It's something I've been thinking about for a while and just now decided to talk about. I feel I'm very new the field of AT, I have learned a lot, but really have only been pursuing information for about 2 years. One think I have not seen a lot of research, opinions or facts about is "What age should we be looking at AT devices for student with significant cognitive disabilities & communication difficulties?"

OK, let me explain that. Here's what I know, from my college child psych class we know that typical children learn language the most effectively before they are 5 (as a general rule). So why are our students with SCD made to wait to get a device to help them communicate. I realize there are money issues, teams like to try out all the possibilities, etc... but shouldn't we be starting students ASAP when we know they have a difficulty communicating. I mean we all are aware that many of our students learn things using repetition over countless times, so why do we wait until they are 10 to start letting them communicate?

Also related to age, why are we not using more digital mediums to help students communicate? I am not against PECS, visuals, etc... to communicate, it is a wonderful system that when used correctly can open a world of communication for students, but as stated by Pyramid and other bloggers (check out TLWMSN about this) have stated PECS is not always done correctly. The other issue I have with PECS is how limiting it can be. A PECS book consists of everything "I" think a student would want to say...the problem is the student can't tell me what they want to say so you are limiting them. A digital system is more flexible in this way. While you can run in to the same limits, you are less likely because so much of the device is pre-programmed. Another feature I like is that many digital display devices allow you to scaffold your implementation, you can start with a small amount of choice and move up as the student becomes more comfortable. While this can be done with PECS it is more time consuming, in digital land it's a push of a button.

So maybe this is all just my bias, I admittedly despise paper. I keep all my notes in Evernote, my calendar is Google calendar, and my reminders are done at rememberthemilk.com. I will go out of my way to NOT take down information on paper. Tell me what you think, I know there are some people who specifically do AT evals and training reading this blog (Thank You for you support). What are you thoughts? Should we be looking at devices earlier? Should we be moving from paper to digital solutions? I'm curious, I want your opinions.


Patrick

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