Today we are priviliged to publish a guest post from Heidi Thompson about her experience with EagleEyes Controlled Technology and how it helps Junior to communicate. Junior is one of Natan Shai’s first friends who we met online and it has been exciting to follow his amazing journey and progress over the past nine years! (Wow! – where did that time go??). Check out the links at the bottom of this post to see more amazing news about Junior and his journey.
I have always felt it was important to allow Junior to have as much independence as possible. With a non-mobile and non-verbal child finding ways for him to be independent is not easy. When he was very young he learned to use eye gaze to tell us yes and no (to the right for yes and left for no) and a few years ago he got his first iPad which completely changed his life by allowing him to communicate his needs and wants.
Still, this requires him to depend completely on someone else to be his hands. He looks at what he wants on the iPad and someone then touches that symbol and it then verbalizes the response. As much as this technology helped him we still wanted something that allowed him true independence in his expression, communication, and entertainment. A year ago we attended a training for the EagleEyes program and we discovered the program that gave him the independence we had been wanting all these years.
EagleEyes is a program that changes eye motion into cursor motion on the computer allowing the person to use the computer using only their eyes. Probes are placed on the face to pick up the eye motion and transfer that motion to the mouse, the eyes then act as the computer mouse. Junior is able to do everything from coloring, to playing the piano, playing video games, doing educational activities, and communicating independently just with the use of his eyes.
With children who are non-mobile and use their eyes for everything, their field of vision is often much larger than the rest of us. For Junior, we were able to finally get a true picture of how/what he actually sees. We discovered that he has an amazing peripheral vision and in fact prefers using his peripheral vision much of the time. He very quickly figured out how to use his eyes to control the computer and took off with it. The smile on his face when he realized he was the one controlling the computer was priceless and gave him such confidence. He now loves playing the piano and we have discovered he has quite an ear for music. His favorite activity is the video games, just like other teens, and he is quite skilled at shooting aliens.