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Published April 02, 2013, 06:00 PM

Apple Technology helping change lives at Jamestown's Anne Carlsen Center

Jamestown, ND (WDAY TV) - It’s a huge honor for a Jamestown school, and a look at technology and its impact on children with disabilities. Today in Jamestown Apple named The Anne Carlsen Center an Apple Distinguished School. It’s one of just 200 schools around the world. The distinction comes as we celebrate World Autism Day.

By: Kevin Wallevand, WDAY

Jamestown, ND (WDAY TV) - It’s a huge honor for a Jamestown school, and a look at technology and its impact on children with disabilities. Today in Jamestown Apple named The Anne Carlsen Center an Apple Distinguished School. It’s one of just 200 schools around the world. The distinction comes as we celebrate World Autism Day.

The award does not mean more computers or software, but a confirmation of Anne Carlsen's commitment to helping its students use the technology to become more independent and embrace new opportunities. Born without arms or legs, this is exactly what Dr. Anne Carlsen dreamed of when she ran the school back in the 1950's.

Marcia Gums – Anne Carlsen Center: “One of her famous quotes is, ‘Independence is the greatest rewards anyone can have.’ We have seen that through the Apple technologies such as iPads and iPods and all the applications. Those tools for learning help people with disabilities lead healthy, meaningful and more independent lives.”

Just spend a few hours at The Anne Carlsen Center, and you quickly learn how iPads and other computer technology are unlocking and tearing down the communication barriers so many of the children face daily.

The iPad might make life for you and me convenient - but for 11 year old Chase Grant, it has changed his life.

Rachel Coppin – Anne Carlsen Center: “It’s has been a real Godsend for Chase, because we were using pictures before. This really gave us an idea how smart he is and all of that stuff that was trapped up in his head that he can let us know that he knows.”

As one of many students here at Anne Carlsen with autism, Chase had behavior issues because he could not communicate with anyone. He is non-verbal, but the iPad and new technology sweeping the Anne Carlsen Center turned his world right side up.

Rachel Coppin: “You could say, ‘What is the matter?’ and he can say, ‘I am frustrated’ or ‘I am tired,’ or different things that he was never able to tell us before. We had to just guess.”

Younger children at Anne Carlsen Center now use iPads and other technology for so much of their classroom learning. Medically fragile students on ventilators and lifesaving equipment, attend school via iPad and Facetime from their room; their teacher and fellow students right down the hall.

In the music room, we meet Lisa Truax. She’s a proud mother of three year old Bria. Born with multiple health issues, Bria is responding to the ever changing technology out there for children with disabilities.

Lisa Truax – Bria’s Mom: “I think in the future for here communications, it will be amazing. With her not being able to see very good, and then hearing too, a lot of touch will be what she will use to communicate.”

Imagine what the reaction of the late Anne Carlsen would be today; with no legs or arms she went on to get her PhD, and lead this school into unchartered waters.

For so long, children like Chase had many limitations. A simple iPad has changed so much. He carries it and uses it now wherever he goes, just to communicate. Imagine being 11, and sharing with a stranger the kind of old muscle car he hopes to have one day – a Red Camaro. Good choice.

Sady Paulson is a student at the Anne Carlsen Center. Despite the limitations from cerebral palsy, she is a Final Cut Pro Editing wiz. Sady uses her head to click switches attached to her headrest to edit video like the pros.

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