AND SPECIAL NEEDS:
ENHANCING SELF ESTEEM AND LANGUAGE
By Joan Tanenhaus, CCC, SP&A
many times do young children, and especially those with special
needs, hear things like this: "No, don't do that", "That's the wrong
way", "Do it this way", "You're too little to do that". Probably
many times, but we can help so that they don't hear it at the computer!
playing at the computer with young children with special needs,
one of the best approaches is to use software that is errorless.
That means that no matter what the children do, there are no right
or wrong answers. Exploration and trial and error are the learning
styles that are rewarded, with fun noises, humorous animations,
great graphics, lots of music and natural sounding speech. All kinds
of learning goes on and there just are no things to do wrong!
type of errorless program is what we call "Cause and Effect"- that
just means the child does something on the computer (presses keys,
touches a Touch Window, hits a switch, clicks the mouse button)
and something happens- a picture appears, a picture animates, an
action occurs. Press again and something else happens. Programs
such as "Jump Start Baby" and "Sesame Street Baby" provide this
kind of experience.
type of errorless program is open-ended and exploratory. In these,
there are still no right or wrong answers, but there are choices
to make. Children get an opportunity to see that they can make choices
and be successful. These programs are excellent for language development,
eye-hand coordination, figure-background, reading comprehension,
and much more. Programs such as the electronic storybooks provide
this kind of experience.
third group of (almost) errorless programs are the "press any letter"/
"press any number" programs. These include programs like "Stickybear
Early Learning", and selected activities in "Bailey's Book House"
and "Millie's Math House".
your children are young and/or unable to use the standard mouse
or keyboard because of physical, perceptual or cognitive problems,
there are many kinds of adaptive equipment available to help them
access the computer, both at home and at school. In this way, even
at a young age, the unique qualities of the computer can be used
to enhance their self-esteem and self-concept, by providing them
with control, success and power. And at the same time, they will
be having fun and learning!
following programs are errorless, press/any key programs and can
also be used with a computer switch interface. These programs
are commercially available and are designated for children ages
1 to years. Some programs are available in the KidNeeds.com Marketplace
or through the KidNeeds.com Affiliate Program with Amazon.com.
Start Baby (Knowledge Adventure)
Street Baby and Me (The Learning Company)
Start Toddler New Version (Knowledge Adventure)
Rabbit Toddler and Reader Rabbit Playtime with Baby (The Learning
Winnie The Pooh Toddler (Disney)
Mickey mouse Toddler (Disney)
Price Ready for School Toddler (Knowledge Adventure)
Price Little People Discovery Farm (Knowledge Adventure)
Price My Very first Little People Playhouse (Knowledge Adventure)
Bear Toddler (Mattel)
Seuss Toddler (Learning Company)
Price Ready for Preschool (Knowledge Adventure)
Storybooks –open-ended and exploratory, choice making, but no right
or wrong answers:
Books (Broderbund-now, The Learning Company)
Grandma and Me
Suess’ Green Eggs and Ham
Monster At School
Animated Storybooks – Appropriate for ages 4-10
Press Any Letter/Press Any Number activities can be found in:
Math House (Edmark)
Book House (Edmark)
ABC Deluxe (Optimum)
Tanenhaus, CCC-SP & A, is an Assistive Technology/Computer Consultant
and Speech-Language Pathologist in New York. She is a specialist
in using the computer to enhance the language and learning in children
with disabilities. Ms. Tanenhaus is a nationally recognized expert
in the field of computer technology for children with special needs,
and a distinguished member of our KidNeeds.com Professional
Advisory Board. She can be contacted by e-mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org.