As I say every year, I cannot believe how fast summer goes by, and I’m a mom of two. Back-to-school time always has me reflect on my own school days. Having cerebral palsy and going through the school system is quite an experience. For some, the school experience can be awesome, but for others, it can be quite lonely. My experience was a combination of wonderful and loneliness.
I can’t help but feel a bit envious when looking at all of the technology available now to students who have cerebral palsy. The Amazon Kindle, for example, would have made my English classes so much more enjoyable. Even though I am a fast reader, holding a paperback book was downright impossible. I’d have to rely on others to turn my pages and feel bad for needing to bother them.
At home, I’d be in uncomfortable positions just to read a book. I had a device named the page turner. In theory, it was a great idea because it was supposed to turn your page. Unfortunately, it didn’t work well, and often it would get the pages stuck and frustrate me even more. So, please, if you or your students have cerebral palsy, invest in a Kindle or an e-reader as soon as possible.
My family was fortunate enough to have a computer. One of my best gifts in the whole wide world was a Brother typewriter that gave me freedom to write my thoughts without needing to say things aloud. Now I have an iPad, and it has literally changed my life for the better. Predictive text has made my life so much easier as a writer, simply because it makes my typing speed go even faster.
I remember I had a laptop for school. There was a program that you plugged in and turned on word prediction, but now everything is built into the system. Word prediction can help students in so many ways. The speed alone is wonderful, but also your student (or you) will not be exhausted from typing a few paragraphs.
The sleek design of the iPad and tablets are terrific. I remember well being in high school with a big bulky tray, laptop holder and a laptop with screen up that covered me up. I doubt the teacher and other students could see me very well. I type on my iPad while I lie on the floor because I have the best control over my hands. But I know a key guard exists for the iPad, which would prevent someone from hitting all the keys at once. I would highly recommend using a key guard if you or your student has dexterity issues.
I think nowadays students and teachers are more open to children with disabilities. In school, I didn’t have any real friends except my aide. I wasn’t invited to parties, dances or events. I was seen as the inspiration student instead of just a teenage girl. My saving grace was that I had a boyfriend who went to a different high school. I also had friends from my camp and a group of girls who used wheelchairs and danced. I’m hoping that social interactions for youngsters are better now.
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