While channel surfing last night my husband and I came upon a HBO Documentary Special. There were 4 mini programs on learning disabilities and special education.
The first program was on ADD and ADHD and they interviewed children who had it. The kids spoke honestly about their symptoms, how it affected them and what they needed to do to ‘look and act like normal kids’. The first thing we noticed was how well they understood their disability. The second thing we noticed is that each kid had trouble with their communication skills. Their thoughts ran through their heads so fast that they had a hard time translating them in word or on paper. When speaking in class the teachers didn’t have the patience to allow them to find the words that they were trying to get out. The other students made fun of them and the name calling began! Doing homework was torture. They knew what they wanted to say but they just couldn’t put it on paper! This led to meltdowns.
The next program was on Tourette Syndrome. Once again the kids would explain how “tics” affected their life. Many worked hard every day so as to not let it defeat them. Some played sports, others turned to music and acting. Each child explained that if they kept busy and focused on something other than themselves than their tics would lessen. Yet, once again, the bullying and teasing kept them in their own social circle.
Throughout the show my husband and I kept catching each other’s eye. These were bright kids who were overcoming their challenges the best way they could. They just wanted to blend in with the other students in the classroom.
My “Ah-ha” moment came quickly when this program was finished. I watched how the kids struggled to get their words on paper. I saw the pencil as a mental and physical block in their way. They had trouble holding the pencil/pen, forming letters and writing complete sentences. You could almost see their minds racing onward yet their hands stood still on the paper. I saw teachers and aides writing down their words for them!! I knew I had a solution. I have been working with kids with special needs for 14 years. The one lesson that helped these student the most was learning how to touch type. It seems that once a kid puts down the pencil and mastered the skill of typing their ‘voice’ got heard….loud and clear!
There are many typing programs out there but none work like Keyboard Classroom. Our educators at The Ben Bronz Academy developed this program. It uses fluency to build muscle memory in the fingers and incentives to keep the students motivated. We don’t use games to teach because we find games to be distracting and students don’t learn when they are distracted!
For more information on Keyboard Classroom go to the website at www.keyboardclassroom.com.
Carrie Shaw is President of Keyboarding4Kids, a unique, “fluency-based” learn-to-type curriculum (www.keyboardclassroom.com). She can be reached by email, firstname.lastname@example.org.