The Luck of the Irish

An Apple IIe Moment
By Ned Drinker

By 1990, I had heard a lot about Apple computers and their therapeutic use for people with learning and speech disabilities. I thought that such a machine with a touch-screen, muppet keyboard, joystick and speech synthesizer would be an extremely valuable aid in Dano’s development. Apple offered student discounts and often donated computers to charitable causes, so I wrote John Sculley, then president of Apple, requesting such a donation. Sculley politely declined so Grampy, Grandee, Diane and I decided to hold a yard sale to raise the money to buy an Apple computer.

We all had collections of old stuff so we had a lot of material for a yard sale. I had an antique photographic collection and darkroom equipment that I was willing to sacrifice. The sale was proceeding nicely, but it didn’t look like we were going to raise anywhere near enough for a computer. Then Grandee came over to me and said, “Mr. Dougherty, here, just donated a whole Apple computer system to us, with all of the accessories you want.” “What!” said I. “How can he do that?”. It turns out that Grandee had chatted him up, in that way that she has, and that he so admired what we were doing that he volunteered to contribute the computer system. He was purchasing a big lot of computers for the Catholic school system, and somehow he could give us one.

Mr. Dougherty delivered the Apple IIe and other components several weeks later and we were in business. I found a state agency near my office in King of Prussia that would lend all sorts of educational software. Dan was around 5 and Will, 4, when they both started using it. Both loved it, though the promise of speech therapy was never realized. Will has been a natural on the computer ever since.
Just as in this instance, good things always gravitate toward Dan and Gran. Dan is forever winning raffles or lotteries and Gran can schmooze her way through anything.


Anonymous said...

What a great post!

Our son, Gabe, is working on his speech. It's a slow process, but the rewards have been great. It took the better of one year for him to finesse the "ck" sound for "k" and "c". We're working on the "s" sound which is proving more difficult.

At any rate, I think that using the computer as a tool for speech, comprehension, fine motor (Gabe can use the mouse for some things) and just plain entertainment is valuable.

Jill, little Joe's mom said...

My little Joe can say "up" "Da" and "bye". He just turned 3. I would love to hear more about Dan's early progress. I look forward to each story and update.