& Inclusion at Children’s Center
Children’s Center School, a division of Queens Centers for Progress,
in Jamaica Queens, offers comprehensive educational and clinical
services to children with special needs, from birth through twenty-one
years of age. Students at the school present with a variety of
disabilities, ranging from mild to profound. While many students
are multiply-handicapped, the school also services “typically
developing” youngsters who are often participants in inclusionary
programs where children with and without disabilities share the
A special feature of the Center is its “Technology Team”. This
team is comprised of physical, speech and occupational therapists,
a computer teacher, carpenter, and an adaptive equipment specialist.
The team meets weekly to assess students with physical disabilities
who may profit from using technology to enhance their educational
experience, and help them to achieve more independence.
The Technology Team might recommend augmentative communication
devices (devices which allow nonverbal children to communicate),
power wheelchairs, adapted computer keyboards, and a variety of
access switches, which may be used to operate electronic toys,
computers, and communication devices. These switches (for children
with limited hand function and mobility) may be operated by the
slightest movement by any part of the body of a more severely
physically impaired child.
The Technology Team’s services do not end when the student leaves
at the end of the day. Through the Home Equipment Project, families
receive evaluations in the home setting to determine their need
for special equipment and simple home modifications which will
assist them with daily care and improve their child’s independence.
The Children’s Center provides, often free of charge, items not
funded through any other source.
The school maintains an Adapted Toy Lending Library of devices
to lend to families for short term home use. When a child tires
of a toy, parents may send the item back and receive a different
toy. The colorful and appealing toys allow for active play and
reinforcement of skills learned at school.
While technology greatly enhances the learning opportunities for
the students with physical disabilities, it allows for wonderful
interactions with the typically developing children who attend
the school. These children are used to friends and classmates
in power wheelchairs zipping by in the halls. They think nothing
of “conversing” with a learning partner who may use synthesized
speech to respond. At the Queens Centers for Progress, technology
gives new meaning to the concept of inclusion.#
Glass is the Director of the Children’s Center School.
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