Tablet computer could ease his developmental distance

Editor's note: Light One Candle is an annual series sponsored by the Mail Tribune that focuses on an individual, group or agency that could use a helping hand during the holiday season. Once that need is filled, donations may be distributed to others in need.

When this 23-year-old Medford man was born, the odds of his development were slim.

The medical field hadn't assigned a name to the boy's condition — Potocki-Lupski syndrome — but he wasn't expected to survive more than a few months.

If he did, practitioners told his mother, he would never walk, talk or ride a bike.

The boy defied those odds with the help of specialists, therapists and educators. Today, he rides his bike at the BMX track, communicates through picture cues and sometimes speaks in three- or four-word phrases. A tablet computer, which isn't covered by the man's insurance, would help him expand his interactions.

"It can be so successful," said Rachel Rawlins, development associate for Living Opportunities.

Extreme anxiety, repetitive behaviors and lack of interpersonal skills are the consequence of a random duplication on the man's 17th chromosome. Designing and building intricate roadway systems in his backyard for an extensive model-car collection is the man's favorite activity for managing anxiety. A big dump-truck load of fine fill dirt would give him raw material for his next project.

Leaving his apartment, managed by Living Opportunities, would be easier if the man had an alternative to picture cues. The system of 1-by-1-inch, laminated images is stored in a large, plastic container, said Rawlins. The man affixes appropriate images to pages in a binder. Every time a new concept arises, a new image must be created, she said.

"He can only have as much as he can fit in his binder ahead of time."

Computer software available for tablets could customize a structured visual system for the man's organization and communication. Several Living Opportunities clients have used tablets for this purpose, and the organization's staff has software training, said Rawlins.

A military-grade, shock-proof tablet cover, such as the Joy Factory aXtion Pro CWA 101, also would be advisable.

If you can help this man tap into technology, call Rawlins at 541-772-1503.

Reach reporter Sarah Lemon at 541-776-4487 or email

Share This Story