Support through Assistive Technology – from Pal-Pad to Head Switch: Meet Zackary

Ellie Hamilton, Assistive Technology Specialist

Zackary, a student in the Centerville District, receives homebound special education services* from Great Prairie AEA. The district and AEA work together to serve and support Zachary’s learning. Earlier this year, his IEP team requested that GPAEA’s Assistive Technology Team complete an assessment of his needs. The team, along with Zackary’s family, used the Student Environment Tasks and Tools (SETT) form to prioritize what tools were needed to support him. It was determined that Zackary did not demonstrate a preference for items and was currently using a pal-pad switch to activate switch activities. The goal became for him to demonstrate preferences for items using a variety of assistive technology tools.

Using the Assistive Technology Resource Manual to select activities and toys, the district’s special education teacher and the AEA team worked collaboratively to provide appropriate support for Zackary. The team, using a collaborative notebook to share information with each other, provided consistent ongoing support as Zackary began to use a head switch from the AEA’s Assistive Technology Lending Library through SNAP. The team modeled and taught Zackary how to use a switch to activate toys at his pace and his nursing staff was trained using videos on the iPad to carry over his goals throughout his day at home. He quickly began to show a preference to the “Whacky Mike” and “Salsa Duck” activities.  After a trial period, where Zackary demonstrated progress, the Centerville Community School District purchased the Assistive Technology items for Zackary. Currently, he is demonstrating preferences and uses an environmental control unit to turn a radio or light on and off.

Zackary’s team continues to provide materials and tasks to support learning; a hand switch is the latest item introduced. The team hopes using his hands will be another point of access to allow Zackary with more choices in the future. He has had many setbacks due to his fragile health, but continues to demonstrate growth. He is working on “Body Buzz” to identify his body parts including: shoulders, knees, and feet. He also enjoys books on the ipad; one of his favorites is Pete the Cat.

Keep up the great work, Zackary! We are proud of you and your team!

Zackary’s Team:

  • Teacher – Shelley Cranston, Centerville Community Schools
  • Consultants – Amanda Larkin & Lori Hugen 2014-15
  • Vicki Caudill & Jenny Snook-Hall 2015-16
  • Occupational Therapist – Marty Hudson
  • Speech-Language Pathologist – Rowene White
  • Teacher of the Visually Impaired – Kim Rozenboom
  • Assistive Technology – Teresa Miller and Ellie Hamilton

*Hospital/Homebound instruction is provided to students with an IEP whose condition, as certified by the Associate Administrator prevents school attendance. Instructional services are usually provided by the LEA, or through contractual agreement with another qualified agency.

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