Tag Archives: zygo macaw

smart money

In class Mac has been learning about money, how to calculate amounts using different coin denominations.

We created a set on the Macaw to help him get to his totals, tell us if he is planning on adding more coins and also to let us know when he is finished.

It didn’t take long for Mac to well and truly had the hang of it – literally one explanation and one run through modeling it to him – then he was sorted.

In class Mac used his Macaw while the other kids used the SMARTboard.

When called on by the teacher for his suggestion on what coins he might use to make up the amount of $1 Mac gave an insightful response.

With a very sly grin for his teacher, Mrs R, Mac chose “one dollar” & “that’s all” which he followed with a giggle.

Mrs R explained to me when I collected him that afternoon that she “chastised him for being a ‘smart aleck’ ”.  She was laughing to me about the incident because, for her, it was nice to see a bit of ‘naughty coming out’.  She figured #1 he was being “smart” with his answer… it was as clear as day in his face and #2 it is quite good for him to get in trouble in front of the other kids – just as they do.  I added #3,  there is kudos in getting into trouble at school.

So all in all, Mac earned a bit of ‘respect’ for all the wrong reasons but gave his teacher a little chuckle along the way.

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Filed under Accessing the Curriculum, Inclusion... straight up!

when I grow up…

I finally got round to asking Mac if he knows what he wants to be when he grows up.   I’ve always told him jokingly that he will need to get himself a good job since all the ‘disability’ things he needs are so expensive.

It was a fun conversation, it went like this…

GINA: So, Macco, do you know what you want to be when you grow up?

MAC: yes

GINA: Do you think you could tell me somehow?

MAC: yes

GINA: Could you spell what you want to be using the Macaw?

MAC: yes

MAC: (using Macaw) d – a – d

GINA: Do  you want to be LIKE Dad?

MAC: yes

GINA: So, do you want to be a teacher/ lecturer like Dad?

MAC: yes

GINA: Do you want to be a teacher at school?

MAC: no

GINA: Do you want to be a teacher at University?

MAC: yes

GINA: Do you want to teach the same thing as Dad?

MAC: I don’t know

GINA: Do you want to teach Journalism like Dad?

MAC: yes

GINA: Or, do you want to teach Maths?

MAC: yes

GINA: Is there anything else you might like to teach?

MAC: no

GINA: So, you want to be either a Maths Lecturer or a Journalism Lecturer at University?

MAC: yes

They sound like pretty good choices to me.

We also talked about the other obvious option from the above conversation about Mac maybe wanting to ‘BE A Dad’.  He agreed he would like to be a Dad one day.  He has been very inspired by Tania at TandemMaster who is a Mum who happens to have quite significant CP, and who uses Morse Code for her communication and access.  I used some of Tania’s stories with Mac when I started talking to him about morse code – seems there was more for him to learn than I imagined.  Tania has been a great help to us offering advice as we move forward with the morse code option for Mac.

Here’s a news story just after Tania gave birth to her son Michael

And here’s the TandemMaster in action.  We have applied for a Tandem Master for Mac to use at school.  Hopefully it will get approved, in the grand scheme of disability equipment it is on the ‘cheap side’ at less than USD$500.

As many people have proven to me, not the least of them being Mac, anything’s possible.


Filed under Access all Areas, things that make me go "glll"

mumma… “it’s stupid”

We are finally getting some agreement from Mac to participate in Auditory Scanning.  He decided he “hated” it once he started morse code.

But, we have managed to convince him there is a place for it in his life.

We tend to use it more for book reviews, conversation and observation at the moment.

Mac’s library book last week was Two Left Feet by Stacey Apeitos

…the story of how Barclay McClay with his two left feet, and Sally O’Malley with her two right feet, dance together and finally swap shoes…

It is particularly relevant because Mac’s ‘left foot’ is always crossing over to the ‘right side’.

I teased him and told him I might start calling him Sally O’Malley if he keeps that left leg crossing over.

So I gave him the chance to tell me what he thought of being called ‘Sally’ via his Macaw Auditory Scanning Device.

Not surprisingly he determinedly chose the option
“it’s stupid”.

He also chose “I love it” for his book review – high praise indeed.   Historically, Mac is a pretty tough marker with his book reviews, rarely giving anything above ‘2 stars’.

It’s nice to know I have a very ‘typical’ child who thinks what their mother says is ‘stupid’… very reassuring.

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Filed under Access all Areas, things that make me go "glll"

binary boy

He is a ‘base 2’ boy.

He has a number of “viable two switch locations” ie two feet, two hands, two elbows, two cheeks.  So far, his feet are proving to be the most successful and also the most discreet.

It is official… Mac is a binary boy all the way.

We are currently using Mac’s feet to access choices and information.

So this year our focus will be on improving Mac’s ability with Auditory Scanning.

We are trialling his Macaw with two switches. One for step scanning through the choices (left foot) and then he has an option of either waiting for the time lag for the selection to be made or he can use his ‘yes’ foot to select that answer. We will see which one he prefers over the coming weeks.

Our second priority is to teach Mac his alphabet via Morse code using two switches. I have designed an Excel form to allow him to do this in the classroom with auditory feedback and training informtion. I will provide a copy in my next post.

Finally, our fall back will be to use the Yes/No switching option as a convenient, quick way to get answers.

These three options to my mind are complementary to one another and should provide him great opportunities to alongside the other students with congruency to what they are doing.

Numeracy is still my stumbling block.  I will see what ideas Vision Australia come back with when we see them next month.  I have been reading up on ‘finger binary‘ which allows you to count to 31 using the fingers on one hand.  This might be a concept we could explore using tactile feedback on fingertips perhaps, it is just a thought – I haven’t heard of anyone doing it so…  I will let you know.

I think this year should be an interesting and exciting year for Mac – his world opened up significantly since our visit to Rosie last year – this year is where we can start putting all these ideas into practice.


Filed under first grade here I come, Technology - things that help

the wild child

We have created a monster.

A very tricky monster who has worked out it is ‘hilarious’ to give wrong answers to questions being asked.

Thankfully his facial expressions are a clear giveaway when he is mucking around. It’s nice to know he would have been a hopeless ‘verbal liar’ sans brain injury.

The big boys at school have been teaching him all about the importance of an ‘irreverent NO’ when asked to do something.

They are empowering him to be in control, they are empowering him to be ‘silly, funny and tricky’.

It is amazing to watch the excitement and enthusiasm the kids have for Mac’s new ability to communicate. They have embraced the Macaw & yes/no switches with gusto and, subsequently, I think we will end up with a team of ‘programmers’ from the student body for the Macaw.  

I guess it’s one way to ensure suitably inappropriate (but current) utterances will appear.

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Filed under Accessing the Curriculum, Technology - things that help

to the Max!

His eyes lit up when he spotted it.  

“What’s that coloured thing?” he asked.  It was Mac’s Macaw AAC device.

“Its a new talking box to help Mac make some choices and ask questions in class”, I explained to Mac’s friend Max as they came out of class together at the end of the day.

“How?” Max enquired further.

So we showed him.  

Mac pressed the button for it to say “Hi, how are you?”… Max grinned.

Mac pressed the button again and it said “What have you been doing?”

At that Max rolled his eyes…

“Maccy, you KNOW what we
                       have been doing, pfft!”


At least I know the kids will keep us ‘honest’ making sure anything we put on the Macaw is relevant and useful.

I love these guys.




Filed under friends, Inclusion... straight up!, kindergarten at last, Technology - things that help