Kevin’s mother best summed up the collective experience: “Wow my life has changed a lot. . . . changed the dynamic of the entire household. . . . There is another voice to be heard and opinions being stated” (Mrs. Katzman, interview, May 7, 2012). In many respects, Kevin’s current school feels the same way. It is fair to deduce that Kevin added a spectacular dimension to the classroom through his conversational contributions. This experience was filled with many different emotions, ranging from frustration to elation.
As a growing adolescent student, Kevin lacked communication tools required for functional and sensory integration development for much of his teenage life. Through supported typing, however, a steady stream of self-expression, self-advocacy, and communicative empowerment helped Kevin. Consequently, Kevin was able to experience strong growth in the academic, physical, social, and emotional intelligence areas.
Long overdue, Kevin was free to communicate. For the first time in his academic life, he was experiencing educational freedom. He touched the hearts of all he encountered, including his teachers. Unmistakably, Kevin wanted to tell his story with conviction to the world. According to Kevin, “This is the end of my first real participation in a study that will teell the world the truth about us. . . . i am seen as intelligent now . yes” (Kevin Katzman, interview, May 24, 2012).
Statements of this nature are the reason many have depicted Kevin as eloquent and inspiring with his words. Kevin was able to meet academic goals and demonstrate unexpected levels of intelligence. Despite destructive reactions from earlier school systems, Kevin was able to overcome discouragement and experience school success as an exemplary student leader.
Anyone who knows me knows that reading and reading instruction are my passions! Did you know that about 85% of all students in Special Education have language- or reading-deficits? Many of these students have difficulty reading grade level texts and books and others have difficulty with comprehension. Often, students with comprehension issues benefit from both auditory and visual exposure to books that they are reading. Having books read aloud can help open a world of new experiences and exposure to textbooks, books for pleasure, newspapers, magazines, and popular novels to all students with reading/language based disabilities. Due to advances in technology, this opportunity is easier than ever.
Bookshare® is an accessible online library for people with print disabilities. It is FREE for qualified U.S. students and schools through an award from OSEP (Office of Special Education Programs, U.S. Department of Education). Bookshare® allows you to download books and text to speech software on your computer. If you would rather read on an iPad or tablet, there is an app that members can download. There is a free app for Android devices and a small charge for the app for iPhone/iPad devices.
Once you have a Bookshare® membership, you are also eligible to apply for a Learning Ally membership - previously known as Recordings for the Blind and Dyslexic. Although fee waivers are available, membership is $119 a year or $10 per/month. What is enjoyable about Learning Ally is that these books are “human” narrated as opposed to computer generated voices. Although Bookshare® membership isn’t a requirement for Learning Ally, I find the approval process to be quicker for Bookshare® members.
Check out both websites https://www.bookshare.org and http://www.learningally.org to learn more and to sign up online or print out an application. As the reading specialist at Celebrate the Children, I am able to certify students for eligibility.
Summer is almost here! Looking forward to spending lots of time reading! Enjoy!
Mary Alice Landis, Reading Specialist
Supervisor of Instruction and Curriculum
Celebrate the Children
In anticipation of the 2015-2016 school year, the SFSS department has created individual transition plans for those students moving up to the high school.
Over the past few months these students have been going to the high school to sample some academic classes and spend time in different classrooms. This gradual orientation will support the students in the Fall when they make a full move to the 3rd floor. We hope to create some familiarity with places and people and support building a foundation upon which new high schoolers can start their school year.
This week the SFSS will host a High School Orientation for those parents whose children are transitioning from the middle school; we will have a mini tour and present some of the changes in expectations, schedules and approach for parents and for students in joining the high school community.
Many of our students are transitioning next year from the high school to the adult program where a similar orientation has already taken place.
We hope to continue these efforts to support students and parents in the different phases of their growth and development at CTC.
Contributions to this blog are made by Celebrate the Children's highly talented, interdisciplinary team and wonderful families.