Sharing the LightAide

Aly has really enjoyed using the LightAide these past several days. We have used it a lot at home and I took it to her school last week. Aly attends T.K. Martin’s Project IMPACT preschool program for children with disabilities in Starkville, Mississippi. Her teacher, Christan Toney, had many great things to say about the LightAide.

Mrs. Toney said, “We really enjoyed all the different features the LightAide offered, including the movement and different patterns of lights. The different visual displays really seemed to hold Aly’s attention and that of her classmate. I was impressed with how easy it was to go to the different screens. Using the LightAide was also another way for me to work on switch access with Aly. We have used a switch before to operate classroom toys, but she really seemed to grasp the concept that she was making the light pattern change. Her accessing the switch appeared to be very intentional. It made for a wonderful classroom activity that helped with cognition, motor, langue and visual skills.”

I had the chance to show off the LightAide this past weekend after my son’s birthday party. Several of our family members came back to our house and were eager to see Aly in action. They had seen the article in the paper and my posts on Facebook about Aly trying out the new product. I showed them how easy it is to use the LightAide and go through the different activities and the different features in the settings. I showed them the visual activities that work on tracking left to right and top to bottom.

I explained how the lights are used to engage Aly and teach her everything from focusing and tracking to reading and math. I also showed them how much Aly loved using the switch to change the color and move the ball. The more she uses the LightAide the more her hand movement with the switch becomes intentional. She gets really excited when the colors change or she makes the image move. I love seeing her understand cause and effect right before my eyes.

I showed them the different activities that have moving elements such as “watch the wave, “watch the bubbles grow and pop,” and “track the snake.” Aly really gets into these activities. Her abilities to track have improved so much and I know the activities that are designed to teach children how to read from left to right will really benefit her.

The possibilities of the LightAide are endless. There are so many great activities with options such as changing the color, changing the speed of movement and changing the order of colors. The LightAide is very versatile and can be used by children of all ages and learning levels. The best thing about the LightAide for me is that it grows with the child. Although Aly may not be ready for the more advanced activities such as learning letters and numbers, she still greatly benefits from the fundamental skills the early activities offer. These activities instill important learning skills and prepares children for learning the alphabet and numbers. The activities continue into learning how to form words and consonant sounds and math skills such as learning numbers and counting. Children also learn shapes and how to compare shapes of different sizes, lines of different lengths and columns of different heights.

As the Backpacking LightAide Program comes to an end I can’t help but think how many children will benefit from this product. Children like Aly who have CVI (Cortical Visual Impairment) and those who are low vision rely on light and movement more than we know. I can see it in my daughter’s face how important lights will be in her learning because nothing else stimulates her and holds her attention as much as light. It is my hope that Aly will have a LightAide of her own very soon and that she will have access to one at school and in therapy.

To learn more about the LightAide visit http://www.perkins.org/store/lightaide/. To read about the other families’ experience with Lily LightAide visit http://www.wonderbaby.org/articles/backpacking-lightaide-program. After the six families have spent their two weeks with the LightAide voting will take place on the http://www.wonderbaby.org site to have one family selected to receive the LightAide as a gift. I will post on how to vote at the end of the program.

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Lily the LightAide

Lily the Backpacking LightAide has finally made her way to our house! After spending two weeks with a family in Colorado, the LightAide was shipped to us. We will be able to use the LightAide for two weeks then ship it to the next selected family. The LightAide is an educational tool that uses lights to engage children with visual impairments and other special needs. The LightAide is preloaded with activities that range from easy to hard and teach visual efficiency (tracking and focusing), language arts and mathematics. It also includes interactive games.

The LightAide arrived in a box with the device and accessories inside. It came with two tactile lenses that are interchangeable and cover the LED lights. It also came with two switches that can be plugged into the side of the LightAide. The switches are used with the different activities to allow the child to control how the lights move across the screen to create shapes, patterns, designs, letters and numbers. The package also included a setup guide and activity workbook with instructions on how to properly use the LightAide during each activity. The LightAide was very easy to set up and use.

Today was the first day Aly got to use the LightAide. She loved it immediately. She was very drawn to the light and movement. For Aly, the switches helped with her purposeful movement by utilizing cause and effect. When she pushed the button the shapes would change or the lines would move. Because Aly has made big improvements with reach and purposeful movement, she did very well using the switches. After a little while, however she would want to pick it up and chew on it. The more we use the LightAide and the switches the better she will learn how to properly use them.

I’m very excited about sharing the LightAide with Aly’s therapists and teachers. I plan to work with Aly using the LightAide a few times each day for 30-45 minutes. I want to work through all of the activities in the workbook. Each activity offers a learning experience that is irreplaceable. After the six families have had time with Lily the LightAide, the readers of wonderbaby.org will select one family to keep the LightAide as a gift. Aly is also receiving a backpack filled with toys from WonderBaby for participating in the program.

For more information about the LightAide visit http://www.perkins.org/store/lightaide/.

For more information about the Lily Backpacking LightAide Program and to read about the other families Lily has visited check out http://www.wonderbaby.org/articles/backpacking-lightaide-program.

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