Monday, October 28, 2013

Lily LightAide Week 1

Ava has been busy resting during week 1, trying to kick a couple of nasty fall bugs that hit her hard this year. Germs aside, she has managed to enjoy (while learning) lots of time with the LightAide. It has been a reminder for me that using her eyes can still be quite a challenge and that she is able to follow directions when motivated.  Ava is enjoying some of the concepts I wouldn’t have guessed she was ready for, we’ve spent a fair amount of time in the Mathematics activities.  I am pleasantly surprised with the consistent accuracy she has demonstrated with activities like matching shapes and finding the different shapes. It is also nice that some she chooses via switch, others using her hands to touch the screen.

We are also exploring the different screens and best working distance from the screen. This depends on the activity but I feel that a little more distance brings some nice clarity to activities like matching letters or looking at site words. I have seen her resort to her trusty peripheral vision, the sideways glance, due to vision fatigue which tells me she is working hard at learning with her eyes. That can sometimes be a challenge; we still pair actual objects with concepts anytime possible to continue to expand her literacy.
Her alternative augmentative communication therapist was impressed with both the LightAide (and all its potential) and Ava’s willingness to engage it. It gives us more hope that using eye gaze technology with a speech device is attainable. It was an unrealistic thought in 2006 when we first learned of her CVI diagnosis, eye gaze technology has come a very long way.

For any of you that feel a tad technically challenged this product is easier for me to maneuver than an actual light box with all those clunky overlays. As a matter of fact, it is so easy to use it has created a unique opportunity for Ava and her 4-year old sister to learn and play together. Her sister can navigate the programs and is fairly privy to which ones they can play together. The only problem I’ve had with the LightAide is apprehending that the switches take abuse. All of the kids that have tried Lily obviously liked her enough to wear them out, which is a great thing! An example of induced switch madness is the pinwheel that spins as fast as the switch is engaged. I am queen of cheap switches from Halloween stores (less than $10 and easy to add tactile items to) so once I tried a different switch set, any technical problem I thought we were experiencing was immediately resolved.
My next post will focus on what Ava has been doing at school with Lily. Both her special education and teacher of the visually impaired are working with her using the device at school. The children in her center have already had a chance to use the weather feature during calendar time. Our hope is that a few other kids will also get a chance to take her for a spin this week.

Here is a snippet of Ava bouncing balls, please excuse the rest of us talking:

To learn more about the activities I’ve mentioned in this post, click here.
To learn more about the Light Aide Backpacking Program click here
To learn more about Lily LightAide click here

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