In the life of a dyslexic student, it is probable that Assistive Technology will be necessary to keep up with peers in the school and work environment.
Assistive Technology, or AT, should never be used as a replacement for remediation. That needs to be loud and clear. Don’t let your schools off the hook and allow them to think that the introduction of AT means they get to back off of or stop remediation altogether.
The goal of remediation needs to always be just that – REMEDIATION.
I always tell people, when the zombie apocalypse comes my son needs to be able to function with reading and writing because all tech will be gone. He will need to pass onto future generations the knowledge of society and our history.
Lol! Seriously, I say this to people.
Anyway, low tech (read: NO tech) tools like graphic organizers, frequently misspelled word lists, etc. are the common tools handed out in elementary, but as the demands of the class increase, keep an ever vigilant eye on where the tech in AT needs to and should come into play.
You can think of it in one of two ways.
The first is in the concept of intersection.
It’s a geometrical term, and is the point at which two lines cross.
Now envision the intersection in terms of economic supply and demand. The demand is x and the supply is y. The point at which the two curves intersect is equilibrium.
An equilibrium of a dynamical system is a value of the state variables where the state variables do not change.
Within the educational world, for our children, you have two intersecting lines:
- The demand for performance, output, end results by the educational establishment which simply increases year after year.
- The supply is the reality of dyslexia meaning the need for extra time, slower reading, etc., but the continual need to perform to ever increasing expectations.
The demand curve is what the demand curve is. The variables that generate the arc of the curve are what they are, fixed and unchangeable.
From a mathematical perspective the only variables that may be altered with any real efficacy is those that plot the supply curve.
- the severity of dyslexia is a fixed variable
- the existence of co-morbid conditions is a fixed variable
- the quality and quantity of remediation is a dynamic variable
- the point at which remediation began is a dynamic variable
These variables means no two supply curves are the same therefore no two dyslexics are the same. This means that the point of intersection, the equilibrium will vary per person.
There are only so many hours in the day, the brain is already exhausted from school, our kids still have a right to be kids. There is only so much possible output in order to maintain sanity.
So how do you control the point of equilibrium to it’s maximum benefit without further draining the child, forcing him / her to stay up all night studying just to keep up with peers who have completed the work in 1/4th of time? How do you enable sanity in an insane dynamic?
This is where AT balances the supply curve and therefore why equilibrium may be achieved.
For my family, I thought that intersection would happen in Middle School with 6th grade. I was wrong. Barely into 5th grade and that intersection has hopped up and slapped us in the face.
What I find entertaining is everyone has different opinions on what tool is the right tool, the best tool, the easiest tool, etc.
We are not stopping remediation, in fact that’s a long way from coming to an end. He still needs Occupational Therapy and some help with Executive Functioning skills. We need to add in typing skills and now the learning curve with AT tools.
As I say a great deal of the time, this journey is an evolution. This just happens to be part of that evolution, in all aspects.
We will set out on this journey to find the right tools, the right components and balance for the kind of mind my son has. What I know now is everyone will disagree as to what he should use, what tool is best. What I’ve learned is those are opinions, and the right answer lies within exposing my child to the options and finding what suits him best.
I will aid and guide him. That’s my job.
So we shall begin our journey into the world of AT which will give me a ton to write about I’m sure.