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Special Education/Special Education for 11 Year Old


Dear Norm

I have contacted you before about Special Education for my son: well here I am again.

Without the improvements that we hoped in his life, we are at the critical stage of deciding what the best way to educate him and make his life a fulfilling one.

My son is 11 years old. He is somehwat like the by in this picture:

See the boy in the "Rifton" walker:

He cannot use his hands or speak, but can react, smile, cry and shout if he wants to.

What is the best we can do, please ask any questions, you must have many.

Based upon what you have shared with me and the BlogSpot, I think your son is a reasonably bright child that doesn't have the ability to verbalize.  I am thinking that the greatest thing for him would be a adaptive device that would help him communicate.  There are three basic routes.  First is a system of pictures that are on a board and he would point or direct light from some stable place like his head.  The pict system at the University of North Carolina is the best I have seen,

The second is the most expensive, that is a speaking board.  They come in a variety of levels of sophistication.  The least expensive require that he have use of his hands and fingers, but there are alternative systems that utilize forehead lights, leg movements, etc.  One web site for these is

The final tool, which I think has the most promise is an IPad app, using the IPad as the generator of speech.  An IPad mini is about $400 to $500 US, and the apps vary in price.  Here is a website with some samples...

I am not enough of an expert in these devices, but most speech pathologists understand what they are and how to get the correct version.  The pects system can be created for very little money, or be found by searching "pects communication systems" on google.  Here is one of the pages I found searching this.  They would cost very little, but the amount of communication can be somewhat limited...if financial resources are a problem I would start here with your child's teacher.  It will be important that the home and school are teaching and reinforcing the same pects and system that goes with it.

The Talking boards as they are sometimes called, are very sophisticated and come in many varieties but can cost thousands of US dollars.  If you have insurance this may be a possibility.  You would need your medical doctor to recommend this.  I like dynavox as a company, but they are not the only provider.  

The in between cost product is the iPad with a good app.  What I don't know is whether they have created an app that doesn't require touching the screen, which would be a problem for your son.  I have seen talking boards that use light, which the child fixes usually with a band around their head, and point to the device.  

I may be way off, but if you are interested in more information, give me a follow up question and I will see what I can find for you.  In the meantime check your insurance or school to see what might be possible.  I have no idea what sort of resources exist in your country, but in the US we would start with the insurance approach.

Sorry this took so long to answer, I actually have sent it twice before, but for some reason didn't go.  Hopefully this one works.


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Dr. Norm Bishop


I have spent nealy 40 years in the area of Special Education. I have had the pleasure of teaching pre-school, elementary, middle, high school and college levels, as well as, served in school district administration buildings in classroom/legal support positions. I have also spent some time working in a State Department of Education Exceptional Student Services Office and am now currently Division Head and Director of Institutional Research at Alice Lloyd College in Pippa Passes, Kentucky. I also teach special education classes on campus. I have also taught full time teacher preparation at Northern Arizona University on the Tucson Campus, Seattle Pacific University, and at the University of Wyoming in Laramie, Wyoming. In addition to that I have taught adjunct at Seattle Pacific University, City University in Seattle, Ashford University, and Grand Canyon University.


I have experienced directly special education legal issues, process and procedure, and have taught at all levels in every special education category except gifted. My major expertise is diagnostic prescriptive teaching, literacy as it relates to disabilities, technology in special education, and Educational Leadership. My greatest passion in the field is building new programs, implementing and doing the research to see how they work. My Dissertation and principle research interest is in the area of inclusive education, primarily co-teaching of students with disabilities in the general education classroom.

Council for Exceptional Children, Association for the Supervision of Curriculum, National Reading Council.

Teaching Exceptional Children, Published computer assisted instruction, titled PAL, Special Education Basics, college Textbook, Teaching with Precision, college Textbook, Various devotionals at the website,

I have a B.A. in Secondary Education, a Masters in Special Education (cross categorical), administrative certification, and a second B.A. in Elementary Education. I completed my doctorate in Educational Leadership at Northern Arizona University.

Awards and Honors
Best Summer Program in the Nation (Honorable Mention, when I was Teaching) Multiple local awards

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