Technology in the Special Education Classroom

Technology in the Special Education Classroom

Blanca Rodriguez (School Teacher, USA)
Copyright: © 2012 |Pages: 5
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61350-492-5.ch008

Abstract

Prairie School District believes in integrating technology into classroom learning for all students. However, for some schools “all students” does not include the special education population. Rolando was a 7 year old autistic boy additionally labeled with mental retardation. Pretend you were Rolando’s teacher. Would you have done differently?
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The Case

Technology touches almost every aspect of our lives, including schools, communities, and homes. Prairie School District has several schools that are technology-based and teach students not only the fundamentals but even the extras. The school district gives every campus a $1.5 million grant to be used on technological resources or trainings that may be needed. Prairie School District believes adamantly in integrating technology into classroom learning for all students. However, for some schools “all students” does not include the special education population.

Rolando was a 7 year old autistic boy additionally labeled with mental retardation. He was born into a single-parent home with his mother and older sister. He entered into the Lexington Lake Elementary School in Prairie School District at the age of 3 when he was diagnosed with special needs. He was immediately placed into a preschool program for children with disabilities, otherwise known in the State as Preschool Programs for Children with Disabilities (or PPCD). The process of Rolando entering a new school came as a surprise for his mother, who spoke only limited English and required a translator for every Admission, Review and Dismissal (ARD) teacher meeting.

Rolando exhibited a remarkable memorization quality. He was able to memorize numbers and several sight words using sight cards. However he was unable to identify the words in an actual story. He also had impaired social skills. He would usually play by himself or cling to an object throughout the day that he would talk to and with which he would engage in dramatic play. He also had a speech delay which correlated with his lack of social interaction. Since Rolando was labeled with mental retardation by the school's diagnostician, his mother was unable to qualify for a trained behavior therapist to come to the home and help with Rolando's disruptive behaviors. Nor did his mother have the funds to send him to an outside behavior specialist. Consequently he could only see a school speech therapist once a week for 30 minutes.

Typically, children with autism process visual information easier than auditory information. Any time teachers use assistive technology devices with autistic children, they are giving them information through their strongest processing area (visual). Therefore various types of technology from “low” tech to “high” tech could be incorporated into daily living in order to improve the functional capabilities of children with autism.

Rolando was a visual child and he functioned throughout his day using PECS picture schedules. Rolando’s mom was still waiting for her own PECS (acronym for “Picture Exchange Communication Systems”) schedule to use with him at home. She had been waiting for 6 months now. Her financial situation inhibited the resources she needed for her son.

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