Just over a year ago, Carter started his schooling experience without saying much. It wasn’t that he didn’t have anything to say, for if you were to meet Carter, you would soon discover that he is quite animated and expressive. It’s just that Carter was born with Cerebral Palsy which has resulted in an impairment to his communication ability.
As Carter entered Kindergarten, he soon became accustomed to the routines of the classroom. Apart from the disabilities that affect Carter, which in addition to being mostly non-verbal includes limited range of motion in his legs, Carter is otherwise a bright and enthusiastic boy. He enjoys partaking in all parts of the daily class routine. One of Carter’s wishes prior to receiving SET-BC support, was the ability to be included in Show and Tell. While he enjoyed listening to the stories and descriptions of his peers, Carter was very much wanting to share his life experiences as well.
That opportunity was not long in coming. In February of 2013, Carter received an iPad with a communication application called Proloquo2go. Together, the device and software formed an AAC (Augmentative and Alternative Communication) solution for him to share his thoughts. Carter was fortunate in that such systems had already been implemented with much success in the past at his school with other students. His learning resource teacher had been instrumental in establishing the necessary supports for him as well as implementing the use of the communication device once it had arrived.
Within months, in no small part due to Carter’s tenacity, determination to communicate with others as well as his ingenuity, he was using the device to share with his classmates during Show and Tell. The only difference with Carter was that instead of using his mouth to tell his story, he would enter, using various buttons on the program, the sentences that he wanted to say. Then he would stand in front of his class and press the speech bar which would cause his iPad to speak for him.
The first time that Carter was able to participate fully in Show and Tell, the school staff who had been working with him literally broke into tears. Carter however, had the opposite reaction. He was beaming from ear to ear with excitement over what had come out of the iPad. The ability to communicate continues to motivate Connor to expand what he does with his device. Although Carter has always been integrated into the classroom, having the ability to communicate has added an additional dimension to his interactions with others.
This year, Carter is in a grade one class. What makes this year more special than the previous one is that Carter is now a peer role model and mentor to another new student to the school. Not only is Carter able to show his new friend around the school and to welcome him to the class, Carter is able to demonstrate to his new friend how to use an iPad as a communication tool. You see, Carter’s new friend is not only new to the school, he is also non-verbal. Soon, he too will be receiving a similar device from SET-BC and hopefully sharing his stories with the class.