Tablets help special needs students develop

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Ipads and other tablets have been said to encourage hands-on learning for kids, but the devices are also playing an integral role in the development of children with special needs.

Two-year-old Lizzy Cutts, of Grand Junction, underwent brain surgery when she was three months old after doctors found a brain tumor. Doctors at Children's Hospital in Denver removed one-quarter of her brain, leaving her blind in the left side of both her eyes.

Lizzy does special visual exercises on her ipad to help train the right sides of her eyes to focus in the same place.

"The ipad has been absolutely amazing," said Jennifer Cutts, her mother. "The fact that she can focus and get both of her eyes to focus in the same place in the matching game, where your eyes are usually everywhere... it makes a huge difference."

Laura Coulter, District 51 Significant Support Needs Specialist, has been an advocate for getting tablets to students with communication problems. Having an ipad enables those students to either type sentences or use images to communicate what they are feeling.

"One ipad might have squares that have picture communication things, so one section might be home, or school or foods, and so then they know which categories to go into to show what they want or need or need to show for learning," Coulter said. "It's incredible."

As for Lizzy, her parents attribute much of her progress to the training she's done on her ipad with her therapist from Mesa Developmental Services.

"She's accelerating to the point that it's mind boggling to watch her," Jennifer said.

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