Step 1: Dilemma

In Step 1 you will learn two viewpoints on a practice dilemma. The dilemma is about a child’s use of assistive technology in an inclusive setting from the perspectives of both the family child care provider and the family.

Meet Ms. Mary. She is a family child care provider who cares for four children ranging in age from 8 months to 3 years. She has a degree in early childhood education and is licensed to operate a family child care program in her home. Sophie is a 2-year-old girl in Ms. Mary’s care, who has language and physical delays and is just beginning to use assistive technology to communicate.

Watch the following videos to learn more as Ms. Mary and Sophie’s mother, Holly, describe their viewpoints on this dilemma. In Video 5.1 you will see Ms. Mary, the child care provider, interacting with Sophie’s mother, Holly, as well as with Sophie and two of her siblings, Jocelyn and Wes. In Video 5.2, you will see Holly and Sophie playing at home.

After watching, complete Activity 5.1a by describing the dilemma.

Video 5.1: The family childcare provider’s viewpoint

Ms. Mary, a family child care provider, shares a dilemma about her concerns of using communication boards with Sophie, a 2-year-old girl in her program.

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Ms. Mary:

I’ve run a family child care program for over 20 years now. I went back and got my degree in Early Childhood Education after my own children left home. And I feel like I’ve found my calling. I provide good care and it’s affordable for families too.

But there is one little girl in my program that I’m worried about – Sophie. Sophie, her sister Jocelyn, and her little brother Wes come to my home 3 days a week. Sophie is about 2 ½ now. Sophie has struggled with motor delays and doesn’t really talk at all. Her mother, Holly is an amazing woman – she has 5 children and works part-time at a non-profit. She has spent the last year working with therapists to help Sophie learn to walk and sit on her own. Sophie has also had some vision problems and they say that it’s a miracle that she can see at all.

Now her mom is working with a speech therapist who has introduced these communication boards for Sophie. Her mother showed me a few of the boards. They have these squares with pictures on them, and Sophie is supposed to point to the pictures to ask or tell us about something. I’ve never used anything like this before.

I know we all want Sophie to be engaged and to interact with those around her, but is using a communication board like this really good for her? How will she be motivated to talk if we tell her to use the board? Shouldn’t the therapist be working on getting Sophie to use words? What if the communication board isn’t right there beside us – maybe we forget to take it with us when we go outside, or it doesn’t have the words on it we need? I know that Sophie’s mom and her speech therapist have her best interest at heart, I’m just not sure this is the best direction to take. I’m afraid she will stop trying to talk if she uses this board.

Video 5.2: The family’s viewpoint

Holly, Sophie’s mother, shares her dilemma about sending Sophie to a family child care provider who does not have experience working with children who use assistive technology.

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I try to stay focused on the positive, and look towards the future.  And it is a bright future.  But that first year, was a really tough one.  In the months that followed Sophie’s birth, we had doors slammed in our face, phone calls unanswered, and doctors who just didn’t listen. When we finally got a diagnosis, we were actually thankful.  We could finally get her the medicine and help that she needed all along.

Now Sophie is 2 ½ and has come so far. With the help of some great therapists, she has learned to walk.  She visually attends to objects, her fine motor has improved, she indicates when she wants things more. It was her physical therapist who first showed me how we could use materials or make small changes to Sophie’s environment to help her. We also used adapted toys with contrasting colors and lights to help her vision develop.  After a recent assessment, her speech therapist, Karen recommended we try using picture boards to help Sophie communicate more.

With Sophie doing well and making progress, I decided to go back to work part time to help advocate for families of children with disabilities.  I know there are other families out there like mine who need help and I can help them.  But I’ve got 5 children, so I need some help too.  My husband works full time, so we decided to send Sophie, her sister Jocelyn, and her younger brother, Wes, to Ms. Mary’s 3 days a week.  We’ve known Ms. Mary for years now and she has babysat for our older kids on occasion.  We trust her, and we know that our children will be safe.

But I realize that Ms. Mary has not cared for any child like Sophie before and having her use the picture boards may be a bit out of her comfort zone.  She mentioned how she had been encouraging Sophie to use words.  She might be nervous about learning how to use these boards.  It’s true that some of the pictures on the board seem a little abstract.  But with Sophie not talking yet, she needs a reliable way to communicate with others.