Isaac moved from the USA to England when he was six years old. The following year him and his family met Everyone Can (then known as the Aidis Trust.)
Isaac has had cerebral palsy from birth. The level of his condition is quite severe, yet relatively common for our service users. All four of Isaac’s limbs are effected, resulting in him needing a wheelchair to move around. Isaac’s fine motor skills are also effected, so any tasks that involve a level of dexterity are either difficult or impossible for him to achieve independently, such as eating and writing. Additionally, Isaac’s voice is effected, to the point that he isn’t able to form any recognisable words and so relied on an alphabet board to communicate.
Isaac’s parents were desperate to find a way for Isaac to succeed academically, as his intellect was unaffected, he had the potential to do well at school, if only a way could be found to record his work. Everyone Can became involved and assessed his academic needs, identifying the need for a joystick to move a computer’s cursor, a large button was plugged into the joystick to act as a mouse button, whilst providing a target large enough for him to hit. We also identified a piece of software that displayed a keyboard on the screen so he could use the joystick to select the keys and also have the words predicted to save time. We also ensured he could have fun and adapted his computer to play games too!
Isaac used the same setup all the way through school, where he was then able to take A Levels and gain the grades that enabled him to gain entry into university.
Taken out of a special needs school environment and going into a mainstream university, Isaac struggled as he found that nobody knew how to interpret his method of communication. He felt like a fish out of water, or more accurately, a person without a voice. Understandably, this had a huge psychological effect on Isaac and he felt he needed to take some time out whilst he tried to ‘find his voice.’ His mother attended one of the events that we held and the source of help was re-established.
As well all know, technology moves quickly. So, we carried out another assessment for Isaac and updated his joystick to one that works in-line with his wheelchair, making it not only more comfortable to use, but portable too. The software was also changed so that not only would it enable Isaac to write more effectively, but it would also enable him to build words and sentences to be spoken out loud by a computer mounted on his wheelchair. We have learnt a lot of lessons over the years and so we looked at other ways that technology could help Isaac and provided him with a solution to also control his environment such as lighting and working the TV.
Isaac’s story shows us the importance of making sure that peoples progression is reviewed as technology changes, ensuring we keep in contact with service users who could gain from the constant advances in technology.