By RORYE O'CONNOR
MT. VERNON — Thanks to a generous donor, Jefferson County Comprehensive Services is enjoying some cutting-edge technology.
Individuals who take part in developmental training through Comprehensive Services' vocational office now are using Kindles to play games, learn new skills and even to cool their tempers.
Tess Weil, a New York-based lawyer, and husband Geoffry, who are related to staff at the facility, donated four Kindles, said Deborah Henry, Jefferson County Comprehensive Services direct service personnel.
Henry said two DSPs in her department had Kindle Fires, and quickly realized the tablet computers could be used with their clients as interactive learning tools.
"We saw that these guys can play with them, that anybody could play them," she said. "We started to let people know we were looking for them, and around Christmastime, she just donated them."
Comprehensive Services has had the Kindles now for about six weeks, and has found a variety of ways to use them with their developmental training clients.
"They're a great tool," she said. "They've been beneficial in so many different ways."
She said the Kindles fit in with a recent effort to expand the activities developmental therapy clients experience and raise awareness of special needs individuals in the community.
Henry said developmental therapy clients can use apps on the Kindles to learn math, word recognition, and cooking. Some clients are using the computers to learn how to recognize different emotions.
Other apps are teaching cause and effect, something that DSPs are constantly working to teach their clients, Henry said.
"The games and apps are geared toward our population," she said. "They vibrate and react to touch, and they are good to help their fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination."
She said for special-needs individuals, their education ends with high school, and the Kindles contribute to helping them continue to learn after high school.
For clients whose special needs may result in them getting frustrated, the Kindles even provide a "cool-down" app, which helps them count down from 10 to calm their tempers, Henry said, adding that it has been a very successful tool.
"We have seen reduced behaviors in the last 45 days," she said. "When we see them day in and day out, they don't always want to follow what we say, but they're excited to use the Kindles and do what they say."
She said clients in developmental training, which takes place five days a week, are pleased to be able to use cutting-edge technology to learn.
"We don't always have all the tech here," she said. "They know it's new, and they're excited to get to use it."
Henry said Jefferson County Comprehensive Services is currently accepting donations of any technology, crafts or other donations they might be able to use with their clients.