By Jill Haney – Author of the PCI Reading Program and Chief Product Evangelist
As the mother of two children, including one with autism who is nonverbal, I am intrigued by the possibilities that new technologies present for engaging all learners. I’ve watched my seven-year-old daughter learn to master her Wii and DSi game consoles far more quickly than I seem to be able to learn the ins and outs of Excel. My five-year-old son was interacting with electronics intended for three-year-olds before he turned one. He may be nonverbal, but I’ve learned to see the patterns of which electronic toys and which musical tunes he chooses to settle down for bed, calm down when frustrated, or start his “get-ready-in-the-morning” routine.
The first time I got a close look at the iPad, I started thinking about its usefulness as a communication device. iPad users can download applications that show survival signs, teach letter-sound correspondence, and make counting money fun. For my son, I can see the iPad becoming a digital communication book he can use to indicate what he needs or the destination he would like to go simply by touching an image on the screen.
So it doesn’t surprise me that schools like Wood Lane School in Bowling Green, Ohio, are using iPads in their classrooms for students with special needs. As the teacher in the article states, the iPad has the potential to replace much more costly assistive technology devices and be more versatile in its uses.
What are some of the new technologies you are using to reach students with special needs in your school or district? What applications would you like to see become available?
Jill’s responsibilities include managing the development of proprietary reading curriculums, training customers on PCI’s reading curriculums and other proprietary products, conceptualizing new products, writing sales and marketing literature related to the reading curriculums, staying current on reading and other educational research, overseeing the research conducted on PCI’s products, and staying current on federal and state legislation related to education.
Prior to her career with PCI Education, she was a national reading consultant and a seventh grade reading teacher. In 1999, she was named Teacher of the Year for San Antonio ISD and won the Trinity Prize for Teaching. Haney earned a BA with honors and a Masters of Arts in Teaching from Trinity University in San Antonio. She has additional graduate reading hours from University of Texas San Antonio.