Amazing Progress: Daniel’s Chatta Journey
Daniel has dyslexia. Daniel’s mum, Dianne, explains how the Chatta approach has helped him.
How does Daniel use Chatta at home?
We primarily use Chatta for School homework, however when we first got Chatta we had great fun sending postcards to friends and relatives. It was a great way of sending thank you notes, enabling Daniel to say thank you in his own words and with his own humour.
Can you explain why he enjoys using it?
Primarily because it means he can communicate his words without writing so has enabled him real freedom of expression and importantly involvement. There is no pressure with Chatta, if he stumbles over his words he just re-records, he listens to his recording and if he isn’t happy he just re-records. His body language changes because of this freedom and as a result his thinking of what he is going to say has improved to become clearer and more structured. His diction has also improved.
Can you explain what impact and progress you have seen with Daniel’s use of Chatta?
Any parent of a dyslexic child will tell you that homework can become a different dimension in patience and frustration. The use of Chatta has stopped this. Daniel is no longer fazed by having to do homework, because the School has encouraged his participation with the homework in a way, through Chatta, that ensures he is involved and empowered to make his contribution. The value of this has given him a confidence that he has never had before, and I do believe because of this in tandem with the other learning support work in School, has allowed him to make such progress. Homework can be difficult for him, particularly when written, but Chatta means that we rarely now do the absolute minimum required but he can give expression to his thoughts about the homework subject.
How does Chatta help your relationship and communication with school?
Homework for Daniel can be a huge challenge to the point of no engagement. With Chatta, Daniel is able to participate in the homework, he can engage with the work in the classroom and therefore stay engaged. But for us crucially, with Chatta he can take control of the homework as well, and whilst reading the homework can be a hurdle to overcome, if he knows that he can fulfil the homework that is a great achievement for him.
The recent Aesop’s Fables homework was a real eye opener. Not being the most enthusiastic homework child, but for this, he was able to engage with the Fables on YouTube, and then the way he corralled his thoughts for his Chatta, the way he spoke with such confidence clearly showed significant progress for him.
What has also been crucial, is that without fail the teacher has always acknowledged receiving the emailed Chatta. This adds to his belief in the validity of his contribution and hence his confidence.
The question of how has this helped your relationship with school is potentially also very difficult to answer. As a parent of a dyslexic child, not only can the child feel excluded by the curriculum but so can the parent. Just by our child being able to contribute through Chatta, means that the School relationship does become easier. Instead of having huge frustration about the school presenting inaccessible homework to a frustrated child, the use of Chatta this year has extended the feeling of inclusion to the parents as well.
How you think other families would benefit from Chatta?
Having spoken to other parents about encouraging our dyslexic children to contribute in school life, and where assisted technology has only limited use currently, there are frequent comments about a child having the information in their heads but they cannot get it written down on paper. Chatta allows them to do this. You can use it in a structured way so the child can lead their thoughts through the process with a series of relevant images, or you can do it completely freely.
Either way, the child suddenly has a channel through which to make their contribution. For Daniel this gave him a validation that had previously been limited. The use of Chatta has, I believe, given him inclusion and confidence. He loves technology, he ‘owns’ Chatta and it has become part of his normal approach to school homework.
We would imagine and hope that assistive technology will be part of Daniel’s dyslexic journey. If Chatta is the start of this journey, then this has demonstrated very vividly to us as parents that with the right tools there should not be any barriers to our child to communicate his thoughts and answers. Chatta has gone beyond the traditional written word to allow him to do this.
We are increasingly using the dictation option in the Microsoft products and it is interesting to see Daniel develop this. However he ‘prepares’ his words before starting his dictation which he has learnt through Chatta. There is the limitation of he cannot always check what the computer has written. This rarely means he is therefore independent.
With Chatta he has a much higher level of control, he records, he listens and only moves on when he is happy. He has earnt a level of independence because of the Chatta process.