5 Ways Parents Can Make Technology Work For Their Children With Special Needs"Technology alone is not enough. It's technology married with the liberal arts, married with the humanities that yields us the result that makes our hearts sing." - Steve Jobs Technology correctly applied will make the heart sing. This is particularly true for those with disabilities. When successfully applied technology helps them overcome human limits. The future grows brighter every day for those with disabilities because of the tremendous technological advances taking place.
Revolution in Mobile TechnologyThe current revolution in mobile technology has given us the touch interface with inexpensive apps on smartphones and tablets. Almost everyday we hear a story of someone with a learning or intellectual disability using these tools to overcome. Our family has experienced similar breakthrough moments, and I want more people to know this joy. This is why I have decided to write a post whose aim is encouraging parents who are fearful about using technology to help their children with disabilities. My goal is not a comprehensive ‘how to’ post, but a mind changing one capable of unlocking the great potential of parent and child alike.
5 Principles to Unlocking PotentialI want to convey 5 simple principles, which when practiced with unwavering consistency will yield results. So, let’s get started.
1. Fearless:Parents of special needs children all experience fear when using technology to help their children. These 4 fears or a combination of them are most common.
- Fear of Technology - I don’t know what I'm doing
- Fear of Failure - People tell me I don’t know what I’m doing
- Fear of Finances - I do know I can’t afford it
- Fear of Time - The research says my child is too old and it is too late
- Be a Learner - there is nothing we can't learn over time
- Learn from Failure - every failure gets us closer to the answer
- Invest to Learn – the lessons we learn are worth the price we pay
- Prove them Wrong – this is what invention and innovation do
2. Explore:Making technology like a tablet or smartphone work for your child does not require proficiency as much as curiosity. Proficiency can be developed but not without sufficient motivation. Curiosity provides the motivation. Curiosity drives us to explore. How can we unlock our natural curiosity? I can share what has worked for me. I begin by listening to every teacher, therapist, and outside observer of my children. I listen for what they say is difficult to do or can’t be done. Then I imagine how it could be done. After that I begin to explore. How do I explore? There are eight things I try to do which have always paid off.
- Smile - enjoy looking for answers no one else has found
- Read - tackle the best research connected to the problem
- Identify - the type of problems you need the software to solve
- Search - spend time looking at every app possibility until you find 3-5
- Purchase - use a trial version or purchase 1-3 apps to experiment with
- Discuss – talk to teachers and therapist trying to solve similar problems
- Imitate – what works for others solving similar problems
- Work - stay at it celebrating every inch of progress and be patient