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Nevertheless, we do have to consider where we go from there. If, at last, we manage to teach, (or allow a student to learn), that by touching the switch she has brought into effect this wonderful world, we pat ourselves on the back or put a tick in a checklist somewhere. But what do we do next?
The temptation is to set her in front of the apparatus again and again, day after day, perhaps eventually changing the reward for a different light-spray or sound effect. This is all very well, and our student is probably very happy with the arrangement, but it is in her interest that we should be continually challenging her by making what she has to do just a little harder, and we should have some vague notion for the future of what she might be able to do with her newly learned ability. The world, after all, is not made of switches.
Sometimes we are not able to answer the above questions, because, quite rightly, we might be letting the child lead our programme. We can hardly have detailed plans written up for the next two years if we don't yet know whether she can choose between two switches, or whether she will ever be able to stretch across the front of her body. What she does may decide what we do next, and that is good.

This is where this booklet will help. I can offer suggestions, based upon our own experience, as to the various ways that the tasks can be made more demanding and challenging. I can list the possibilities open to you, but there is no way that I can offer you all the answers. There are so many things about the student that only you may know:

 

  • How well can she hear, or see, or move.
  • What rewarding effects does she like, and what does she not like.
  • What special medical considerations are involved? For instance, if she is [photo-sensitive] epileptic, is it wise for her to operate light equipment of a specific visual frequency?

 

And so on. The main question is - what particular skills would you like her to develop? Do you want to extend her reach by moving the switch progressively further away from her......and have you discussed this with her physiotherapist? Or do you want to give her a more intellectual challenge by giving her a choice of switches?

These are all decisions which you, as parent, teacher or carer must make.
My task is to suggest to you some possible directions you might want to take on behalf of your student. I hope that you will be able to see a switch not simply as a means for turning something on, but as part of a learning programme which enables the student to develop and enjoy herself at the same time.

Make sure that you choose outputs which are pleasureable events for the learner. Make sure that you choose outputs which are
pleasurable events for the learner.

Booklet reproduced with kind permission of Chris Addis and ROMPA.