Fear of the Unknown: Assistive Technologies (& a FREEBIE!)
Updated: Nov 29, 2018
Meet Captain Adorable (did you read his shirt?)! Isn't he just about the cutest baby you ever did see?! Okay, this mama might be just a wee bit bias:) Mr. Adorable is my almost 8 month old 'lil (or should I say big?) cutie! He is the sweetest little guy in the world! He eats good (as you can see), sleeps like a champ (12hrs/night!!!), and almost ALWAYS has a smile on his face!
When he was three months old we noticed that he was starting to develop a small flat spot on the back of his head since we always laid him on his back to sleep and he liked to sleep a lot. By five months, the small flat spot had gotten rather large so we decided to take him in to see his doctor about it. His doctor referred us to an orthotics specialist for an evaluation and Captain Adorable was fitted for a helmet at six months old. The orthotics specialist took a scan of CA's head and then sent it off to a lab where they make a molding of his head and fill in the "gaps" to make it round (like they want it to look). Then they customize a helmet to fit the head molding. It took a few weeks to make the helmet and then we had to have it fitted to his head which consisted of them marking it up and scrapping excess foam off the inside. The finished helmet has large gaps where they want his head to grow and is more fitted where they don't want it to grow. So, as his head grows it will naturally fill in the gaps and round back out. Pretty cool, huh?!
Through this experience I have found that many people do not know what the purpose of helmets are. I have had people ask me if my baby had brain surgery or if I was an extremely cautious parent and worried he would bang his head on something. One time we went to an outdoor church service during a camping trip where they were going to be doing baptisms in the lake a quarter mile away afterwards. I thought I would bring my daughter's swimmies so she could go for a dip after the baptisms, but of course, my 2 year old insisted on wearing the swimmies to the church service! As I was walking down to the lake with my mother-in-law and her friend a lady came up to us and said, "Oh my granddaughter had to wear a helmet too, flat spot, huh?". "Yes," I replied to which my mother-in-law's friend chimed in, "Oh, that's what it's for! I just thought you were an extremely protective mother with your daughter wearing her swimmies that far from the lake and all!" We had a good laugh after that one!
Now days, more and more babies are being prescribed helmets for this condition (Plagiocephaly). Some babies have a tight muscle in their neck (Torticollis) that causes them to lay only on one side. Doctors also tell parents not to lay their babies on their stomachs for fear of SIDs and more babies are developing flat heads as a result. Other children and adults wear helmets because of traumatic brain injury, seizures, epilepsy, issues with balance or head-banging tendencies.
There are lots of different kinds of assistive technologies from helmets to wheelchairs, talking calculators to weighted pencils. If a typical student were to see another child wearing a helmet all of the time (when not riding a bike) they might think it is strange. The same is true for other assistive technologies. It is important that we educate all students about different assistive technologies so that they won't be scared or look down upon someone who uses one. My son has to wear a helmet for 3-6 months and then he will be done with it. His brain development has not been affected and he is no different than any other happy playful 8 month old except for the fact that he has to wear a helmet 23 hours a day for 3-6 months.
Have you ever seen a child stare at someone who is in a wheelchair or uses another type of assistive technology? Why do they do this? Because kids are curious! We must be intentional about teaching students about AT so they will know how to act around someone who uses them and will not be afraid or jump to any wrong conclusions. To help teachers do this, I have created a simple and FREE flip book on assistive technologies that you can download from my TpT store. Click on the image to grab this freebie! I have also included a few links below to additional resources on this topic. Hope your week is blessed!
IDEA 2004 Definition of Assistive Technologies: (1) Assistive technology device.-- (A) In general.—The term `assistive technology device' means any item, piece of equipment, or product system, whether acquired commercially off the shelf, modified, or customized, that is used to increase, maintain, or improve functional capabilities of a child with a disability. (B) Exception.--The term does not include a medical device that is surgically implanted, or the replacement of such device. (source: idea.ed.gov)
25 Assistive Technologies Explained http://theinnovativeeducator.blogspot.com/2011/09/25-incredible-assistive-technologies.html