Helping my nephew with special needs learn using a SMART Board
In February 2012, my two-year old nephew, Cole, was diagnosed with Epilepsy – a condition that incites inevitable seizures, unless controlled with medication. In late June of 2012, he was diagnosed with Angelman’s Syndrome – with Epilepsy as a side-effect. Generally, “angels” are constantly smiling, giggling, and happy. Cole’s smile is so infectious.
Angelman’s Syndrome is a partial deletion in chromosome 15; this deletion usually prevents the “angels” from talking and sometimes walking. However, they may say a few words, and walk. Cole has progressed with his walking, but still lacks communication skills. We help him and his parents and brother in every way possible.
I find the SMART Board interactive whiteboard a vital tool in his learning process, and it’s the perfect interactive whiteboard for special needs students. Cole loves to draw on the SMART Board and listen to the animal sounds taken from the SMART Notebook Gallery. I have created a file on the board that is helping him learn to communicate by associating pictures with words. Our hope is that eventually Cole will be able to point to a picture in order to communicate with us. For example, if he is hungry, and would like a banana, he can use the “digital communication board” file and point to the banana.
Watch this video that I created to show how I made Cole’s digital communication board in SMART Notebook collaborative learning software. You can also find the written instructions below the video.
- Insert clipart onto your SMART Notebook page – for example a banana (his absolute favorite food)
- Right click on the image, then select “Sound”
- If you have prerecorded a sound, then choose “Browse,” otherwise you can record a sound if you have a microphone hooked up. At this step, I recorded “banana.” You can listen to the sound clip to make sure it’s clear.
- Make sure “Object” is selected next to Play by pressing. With this chosen, a simple tap of the picture, the sound will be activated.
- Click “Attach Recording” and you’re done!
- Repeat these steps with different pictures.
I presented this to Cole and he smiled that infectious smile. He touched the SMART Board interactive whiteboard and was pleased to hear my voice. I think with more practice he’ll better understand the picture to word connection. Touching the picture of the banana and then hearing my voice is the first step in learning this process.
To learn more about Angelman’s Syndrome, check out their website: http://www.angelman.org/
About the author
At just 13, Emily Sparago is a soon-to-be high school freshman at Dodd Middle School in Cheshire, Connecticut, with a passion for teaching and technology. Sparago has wanted to be a teacher since she was five years old. Her first experience using a SMART Board was in third-grade and it was love at first sight for Emily. Ever since then, she’s been researching SMART Boards and secretly craving one. It was three years ago when Sparago brought it to her parents’ attention that she wanted her own SMART Board.
After raising the money, she reached her goal and purchased a SMART Board interactive whiteboard. Word quickly got out, not only about Sparago’s SMART Board, but also her love of teaching. Since then, she has had the opportunity to be a guest teacher at Quinnipiac University in Hamden, Connecticut on a few different occasions and she hopes to teach more in the future.