Eighth grader Michael displays skill and joy in his longtime interest: computers and their software. Michael was described by his mother as a slow-to-develop baby and toddler and he came to kindergarten from a mainstreamed preschool program. His social and communication skills were good, but an evaluation diagnosed neurological difficulty and severe learning disability. Friendly and outgoing, Michael needed help for his poor handwriting, distractibility and difficulty organizing and planning work. From kindergarten through second grade traditional special services (speech, language and occupational therapies; resource room help in reading and math) supplemented Michael’s regular classroom learning. His chance to shine came when Michael’s school introduced classroom computers. A knack was clearly his: Michael became computer literate in early elementary school. By the end of sixth grade, with time and practice, accessibility to a computer and the right specialized software, Michael - even with his severe learning disability - was integrated into his school’s mainstream academic program.
Computers and their specialized software have helped Michael organize, plan and write. Teachers are glad when his performance is up to par. Kid to kid, Michael is glad that his success and skills narrow the difference gap. His skill with the computer and his natural friendliness have made Michael a mentor to his peers; he shares his computer fun. As Michael moves to high school, his Individualized Education Program (IEP) will probably require even more computer use as language based subjects like social studies and English expand. Beyond high school, clever, energetic Michael faces a future not so very different from other graduating seniors. He will do the best he can with what he has. Early and consistent computer assistive technology has a part in Michael’s bright horizon.