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Katie has just turned 19 and she has been a part of Chailey Heritage Foundation since she was just 4 years old. Katie loves everything Disney, is always wearing the brightest outfits covered in glittery sequins and she loves the colour pink!

Like a lot of young people at Chailey Heritage, Katie uses switches to aid her learning and develop her independence. Switches are assistive technology devices that can be used by individuals with limited mobility to interact with their environment.  They can be used to access educational software, activate switch-adapted toys, drive powered platforms and wheelchairs, and interact with environmental controls such as lights or sensory equipment. The switch itself can be mounted in several different ways to best enable a young person to be able to activate them. Katie’s switch is mounted on her chair near to her head.

Throughout her time at Chailey, Katie has become comfortable with working and using her switches in different ways. Katie is currently working on using a single switch more consistently for a cause and effect activity- this means helping a learner understand that an action on their part can trigger a response. Katie can then use her total communication to express whether she wants to continue the activity or not or if she enjoyed what she has activated with her switch.

One way Katie can use the switch is to turn the water tower in the sensory room on and off. This is not only a great way for Katie to practice her independence, but a fantastic way to practice moving her head and neck precisely to achieve her goals.

Katies current goals explore demonstrating positive responses like;

  • tracking and focusing on objects with her gaze
  • using her body to become more tense if she is excited
  • smiling and/or open her mouth to vocalise.

Katie also has goals to practise her negative responses;

  • stiffen her arms, visually look unhappy
  • poke her tongue out and/or make unhappy vocalisations,
  • turn her head in the headrest when experiencing things, she does not like, or when in pain.

With support Katie has already been able to show positive and negative responses in order to communicate that she wishes to continue and stop an activity. Continuing to use devices such as the switches and working on her goals will help Katie to be more independent and open up her choices.

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