*Some photo used in article were taken before the COVID-19 pandemic
The technology suite that is now a staple in Sean’s life only started to exist a few years ago. He was one of the first people at Emmaus to begin experimenting and equipping his room with assistive technology. By installing an Amazon Alexa, he paired commands with connected electronics in his room.
Since Sean uses a wheelchair, controlling aspects of his life by using the power of his voice was essential for his growth and independence. He started by asking Alexa simple things: Set a reminder. Check on scores of last night’s baseball game. Find facts about my favorite WWE superstars. Pull up the weather for the week ahead.
As time went on, Sean used his device more and more, such as connecting his light bulbs. This gave Sean the ability to flip the light switch without even getting up. At night he moves around his room freely, without relying on anyone’s support. He even put a light in his closet so he can pick out his own wardrobe without assistance.
Alexa really came in handy in 2020. Fighting boredom from staying at home, Sean would ask his smart assistant regularly to turn on his favorite scary movies, play music, and pull up his trending social media accounts. Staying connected is one of the ways Sean overcame what could have been a deep depression during COVID-19.
Sean loves going out. You can usually catch him in-person at some sort of gathering with huge crowds. As the rest of the world shut down this year, Sean’s Direct Support Professionals made sure his world didn’t. They invented new fun experiences for Sean to try out and put his techy twist on things.
“We re-invented what ‘going out’ looked like,” says Ashley.
Sean used his smart device to research popular things to do from the car. “We found Lone Elk park and had buffalo and elk pull up right next to our window.”
Sean could even ask his device to reroute the trip and add a few extra stops along the way.
“We even stopped at a dam. It was awesome for Sean because he could take his wheelchair out of the car and park it on a platform to watch the barges passing beneath us.”
Trish, who has worked with Sean throughout the pandemic, has seen positive changes. “He’s gotten better at vocalizing his wants and needs. Instead of asking for help to clean off his glasses when the mask fogs, he just does it.”
As staff spent more time working with Sean on his skills, he grew more confident and less reliant on them. The people who work with Sean have recognized his shy nature and built trust so he could come out of his comfort zone. They joke a lot.
“A few months ago, Sean would not joke or be sarcastic. Today he pulls pranks on us and just laughs about it.”
Along with adding humor to Sean’s life, his team also added a tablet. Sean now uses a tablet to keep in touch with his mom, family, and friends virtually, anytime, anywhere. Seeing how well Sean adapted, he was invited to participate in a technology grant training at Adam Morgan Foundation. It is the first class of this kind and currently only open to 5 people. This year-long program implements Sean’s needs, wants, and interests when it comes to technology. With his support team’s help, Sean engages in a pre- and post-assessment to measure his progress. He attends a monthly training to gain new knowledge, understanding, skills, attitudes, values, and interests.
Technology has become part Sean’s daily routine. Knowing how to use it effectively lets Sean connect to the world and increase independence in everyday life skills.
“Sean has shown to be an excellent leader in his group and scored above average in self-directed learning skills. He brings with him an amazing attitude and thirst for learning new strategies in the area of technology. We look forward to learning alongside him and can’t wait to see his leadership skills shine throughout the program.” says Dr. Rachel C. Morgan, Adam Morgan Foundation, Executive Director.
Each time Sean turns to technology, smart devices, and his support staff, he also turns to everyone who has generously invested in his independence.
Thanks to donors like you,
Sean is Always Growing