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Meet 'Nate the Great'

winter 2007 newsletter

By Barbara Whiteman, Nate's mom:

Nathaniel Carlson resides at HealthBridge Children's Rehabilitation Hospital in Orange, California. He is 20 years old and better known by the staff as "Nate the Great." Susan Seekatz, his teacher at HealthBridge, received the EagleEyes technology from the Opportunity Foundation of America in May 2006. She tried using it with Nate and received better than anticipated results with him.

Nate is diagnosed with cerebral palsy and profound mental retardation. He has tried using other communication devices, such as switches, but the response is not consistent. Unless he is excited about the activity, his participation is very minimal. And w hen he is excited, his muscles tense up with his cerebral palsy and his arm mobility is then limited. Other eye gaze technology has been tried in the past, but it was not successful because of Nate's slow responses to the calibration process, his head po sitioning, and nystagmus.

With EagleEyes, Nate is engaged in the program. He anticipates participating by looking at the monitor during the set-up process. We have been surprised by the length of his attention span during the session. He gets engrossed in the drawing program and his movements are very detailed and controlled. Even when he gets excited and his palsy causes his head to pull to the right, he works his way back to the monitor to get back to the task at hand.

I have noticed that Nate's eye focus has improved. He tracks objects better and is more interested in making decisions with his eyes when given a choice. What I especially enjoy is his eye contact. There is nothing more that I treasure than to look him in the face and say, "I love you," and have him look me straight back in the eyes, give me a wonderful smile, and communicate the feeling back.

We are looking forward to seeing what else Nate will be able to communicate as he continues to use the EagleEyes technology.