I have worked with many students with multiple impairments. One young lady, ‘Stacey’, was blind and was on the Autism Spectrum. I started working with her during her third grade and learned quickly that she did not have any usable communication system (she did not speak). Stacey would throw almost anything; she hated holding almost everything. Tactual symbols had been tried attached to a GoTalk. Stacey usually ripped these off, randomly pressed buttons, or fixated on one button. I had the distinct feeling Stacey did not have cause and effect.
I brought the APH Sensory Learning Kit and light box to Stacey’s classroom. Stacey preferred sitting on the ground, crossed legs, and rocking to the point of often smacking her head on the ground. My goal was to get Stacey to want to hit a switch with her hand to turn on the fan or light box. A switch was attached to each device and then I needed to get creative on switch placement. Stacey was quick to toss the switches when we placed them near her hands. I noticed her legs would move up and down as she rocked. When her leg was elevated I slipped on of the pressure plate switches under her right thigh so that when she went down her weight would press the switch, much like a sewing machine pedal, and turn on the light box. Stacey froze when that light box went on and shined in her face. The pause only lasted a moment and then she picked up and rocked again. But on the down swing, the light came on and she froze again.
Stacey needed a few more rocks and then she realized if she didn’t rock for a bit, the light stayed on. Then I placed the switch for the fan near her other leg but this time closer to her knee. If she rocked slightly forward the fan would come on. The cause and effect game with the fan and light box lasted almost an hour and then the thing I was waiting for….
…Stacey reached each hand out to each switch and soon had both the fan and the light box on with the push of her hand. Stacey had found a way to have both things AND rocking! The smile on her face and on the faces of teachers in the room was awesome. One young lady learned she could cause something to happen!