Good news for difficult child - assisted devices


Active Member
A few weeks ago I filled out a bunch of paperwork through school health support services for a new occupational therapy assessment for a assisted device for difficult child. This morning I took him in for his actual assessment and the occupational therapist told us on the spot that she was recommending that the school board approve difficult child to recieve a assisted device right away, meaning it will be in place in plenty of time for high school next year. I think it might be only a couple of weeks until we recieve it.
He was able to check it out for a few minutes this morning. It is sort of like a cross between a laptop and a typewriter. It doesn't flip open like a laptop, it's all one piece like a typewriter, but it does have a screen. It is pretty cool looking, lightweight and portable. They provide a cool carrying case etc. Apparently most students who get these have to leave them at school each day, she is going to recommend that difficult child can take it home each night which I think is helpful. He will now be able to type all of his notes in class and do all school work on this unit as opposed to hand writing it. (difficult child has essential tremors in his hands making it hard to write as well as undeveloped fine and gross motor schools. His hands are weak and they go into spasms after writing more than a few lines, as well as he writes so tiny and he can't even read half of it himself)
This unit has a USB port to hook up and "send" all files saved on it straight to a printer or even to our home computer. It has a built in spell check and all kinds of cool templates etc.
He seemed disappointed that she opted to not provide him with a laptop computer, which was a concern of mine because he had wanted a laptop, not one of these units. But I think that was because we had to share the computer at home back when this all started, and he was hoping for a laptop for school but then he could have a computer for himself here at home. I now have my desktop, my laptop and he has a desktop in his room now too. So he seemed to not care, meaning he isn't going to resist using this type of unit they are providing :smile: :smile: :smile:
I am so happy for difficult child. This is a huge source of frustration, and with high school next year, note taking was going to be horrible for him. He now will likely type the notes faster than his classmates can handwrite them, leaving him more in class time to actually focus on learning. He seemed quite happy when we left his appointment!!!
They have offered to also provide him a small handheld recorder to record the classes he doesn't feel up to taking notes in so he can have the tape to refer to and do notes at home etc. He spoke up honestly and respectfully and said he truthfully knew he would be too embarrassed in front of peers so wouldn't use it, and he didn't want to waste school board money on the recorder. Even though he could be helped with one of these recorders, I respected his honesty that he would not use it.
He is looking forward to school next year. He has outgrown the mentality of elementary school where all kids are treated the same (as if they have no maturity and are small kids to be scolded and ordered around, he resents this attitude, truthfully lately I see exactly why in my dealings with his school and I can't blame him!). He is happy to be going to a high school environment where the students are more independent and although there are rules, they are also seen a bit more as individuals.
I have met his resource teacher and guidance counsellor for next year (luckily she has both titles and will have same woman for both, good for me, one less person to track down for progress reports etc and difficult child will bond easier with one person instead of dealing with two). This woman has a very great attitude for success for difficult child, but also understands she will have to speak to his teachers one on one to explain difficult child's good points and issues he needs help with. She is definitly planning to put in place plans with his new teachers next year on how to motivate difficult child, how he reacts in certain situations, how to speak with him where he will respond instead of get defensive etc. She is extremelly motivated to help his high school transition be a good one and seemed truly interested in my difficult child as a person unto himself, his history, what we/I know works and what will blow up in a adults face in dealing with difficult child.
I will be so glad for June to come and school to get out. i am really tired of dealing with a school and principal and teachers who think all kids should be the same and who don't practice what they preach. There expectations are unrealistic and they don't give my difficult child any credit when credit is definitly due. Next year is looking like it might finally be a good experience with difficult child as a student as well as for me as a parent.
I am pleased as punch that difficult child isn't rejecting using this new device. He is actually thinking it's pretty cool, he said any kids who ask, he'll spread the word he has hand tremors so kids "dont think I'm a freak" and also plans to sort of "Brag" about being able to type his notes instead of wasting time writing and rewriting notes to make them neat and up to standard. Good approach instead of being embarrassed and refusing to use the unit therefore handing in horrible work and missing important information in his notes :smile: This unit helps that it looks cool, not childish. Many university students purchase them on their own to assist them in lecture halls etc.
I wish we could speed up time until first week of high school classes :smile:



Sounds like that will really help. Really important peice of equiptment. Glad all went through so quickly. He can get used to it.


Active Member
This sounds like an Alphasmart Neo. difficult child 3 has had one (provided by the Education Dept) for some years now. It was supposed to stay at school but when he transferred to Distance Ed (which is still technically state-based education, it's just that he does his work at home) they sent it home with him. He's working on it as we speak.

It's a lot better than you think - because there's no flip-up screen, it's more durable. Very tough, in fact. We take it in the car with us and he types in the car. it will download to a easy child or a Mac just as easily.

difficult child 3 HAS to use it in exams, and for these it must be 'scraped out' and all files deleted before the exam. Spell check has to be turned off for the government literacy tests. He then types his responses and after the exam the supervisor takes him to a school computer where he downloads the file and prints it out, under supervision. This is only for major tests and exams which have to be done at an exam centre, or at his school head office (in the city - we visit about once a month or more for various events).

For daily school - the same thing, only usually it's under supervision of the class teacher, downloading onto the teacher's computer. That way he's able to work at his desk and not be constantly seen by the other kids as hogging the class computer.

When we travelled round Tasmania two years ago he had the Alphasmart on his lap in the car and would write his report on where we were going and what we were seeing, while we were on the road. We would stop and look at a place, such as the Shot Tower near Hobart, and when we piled back in the car and drove on he would write a few lines about the place we'd just been.
After we got back to our room that night he downloaded the digital camera into his father's laptop, backed up the Alphasmart file, and then began to insert photos into his text file. Once we got home we printed it off and sent it in for his teacher at the correspondence school.

We'll be doing the same thing in June, for our NZ trip.

I'm really glad for your difficult child - I think he will find it much better than a laptop - it's a different sort of tool, much more specific to what he needs and with fewer distractions built in.


Stella Johnson

Active Member
I have a friend that is a writer. She has a device that sounds like the same thing your difficult child is getting.
I really hope it helps. :bravo:

He has a computer in his room? Are you sure that is a good idea? I am very protective when it comes to difficult child with the computer. I won't allow one in her room because I want to be able to see what she is doing when she is on it.

A friend's 10 yr old son decided one day he was tired of his mom complaining about not having money so he got the bright idea to learn how to do credit card fraud over the internet.

He downloaded some program that actually went through the cache on the easy child and got her personal debit card info. Her account was drained the next day by someone in Russia. She was also paid that day. So she went almost 2 wks with no money while waiting for the bank to refund the money.

Also take into account the many many adult websites that teens are attracted too.... just a disaster waiting to happen. just my humble opinion. Just thought I would mention the problems that can arise.



Active Member
It is a good idea to monitor kids' usage of online communication. We have desktops all round the house, but only one online. We have the option of cabling a second laptop to the broadband, but husband & I are he only ones who can do this. The kids are into Gaia in a big way but it has a lot of protections in the site. easy child 2/difficult child 2 is supervising difficult child 3 on his Gaia communications. She found a spoof message from the moderator today and immediately fired off a copy to the REAL moderator then called in difficult child 3 to show him how to spot a fake (to begin with, anyone asking for your personal details incl password is NOT the moderator).

That's the biggest worry - kids who are computer savvy but people-naive.

husband is also teaching difficult child 3 how bad people use the Internet to 'get at' people, their money and their time.

The day will come when difficult child 3 is no longer protected by his youth and our supervision. We want him to learn how to be safe, as soon as possible.



Active Member
Thank you all for your concern re: the computer :smile: difficult child uses MSN to chat to his friends and goes online to play runescape or to download music. He is pretty computer savvy for sure and he is a very private kid, he has friends on his MSN only that he knows through school etc. He doesnt' give out personal information. He also knows that I can track all he does on the net whenever I want to take the time to look at it, and the program tracking it all is password protected so he can't turn it off/on at will. It fires up when he turns on his easy child.
I used to read his logs and chats pretty much daily when he first moved home, for a couple of months. Now unless I'm worried about something, I only go check it from time to time. Lucky for me not once has there been anything of concern for me on the log.
He is at a stage where he wants to be respected in return for respecting others, so he is working hard to be sure he has a right to claim that right. If that makes sense :wink:

As for the AlphaSmart, that is exactly what difficult child will be getting. I was glad to see the name so that I could check it out online!!!