The Bridge School
Self-Determination Program


This is Alex in his final performance of his 8th grade drama class.

Alex knew what he was passionate about – and that was drama. He was persistent in pursuing the goals he set for himself and focused all of his energy there. Over time, he began taking on a more active role in anything that involved his drama class. In his schedule, he would calendar his drama days in advance with his teacher and when the day of class rolled around, he would use his device, without prompting, to remind his teachers that he had drama.

He worked with one of his Bridge School teachers to plan a Talking with Technology presentation in which he shared information about his communication tools and strategies as well as personal information. During his presentation, he advocated for himself and shared that he didn't want people to talk down to him. This really opened doors with his peers who began seeing a new side of Alex.

Alex determined when his instructional assistant would stay close or fade support. More often than not the instructional assistant faded support because of Alex's increased confidence and his desire to be more independent. Alex was no longer hesitant about taking part in activities. As soon as the teacher instructed the class to break into groups, Alex would turn on his power chair and drive independently to the group he wanted to work with.

In one of his first plays, "A Midsummer Night's Dream," Alex landed the part of the narrator. Through this experience, he not only gained more self-confidence in his abilities, but also developed a self-awareness that he could perform well on stage.

Decision-making played a key role in all of Alex's next steps. He decided he wanted to play a character and have a speaking role in the next big play. Alex created a resume and chose which talents he wanted to highlight. After passing in his resume, he initiated a conversation with his teacher to tell her how much he wanted a speaking role.

With his intent set, he achieved his goal and landed the role of Winthrop, in "A Date with a Vampire." At school he would enlist the help of a partner to fill in as the other character so he could practice his lines and timing. He wanted to practice whenever he had a chance. Once his lines were programmed into his device, he chose the voice, what his cue would be and then practiced this at home with his brother. He was able to problem-solve. He would let the teacher know when to plug in his charger so that he had enough battery power to say his lines if he had drama class at the end of the day. He controlled his own volume setting and knew when he needed to adjust it so it was loud enough for practice.

Eventually, Alex reached a level of independence to the degree that he didn't need partner support. He drove to the spot where practice would begin, waited for his cue and was able to deliver his lines and hit his marks accurately. Because he was so excited about the play, he created advertisements and posted them around the school. Once the play was over, he offered to autograph photos for his fans.

Alex is now a junior in high school and Drama continues to be his passion. He was also the 2011 keynote speaker for The Bridge School graduation. He worked with a teacher to compose his speech and delivered his keynote independently with the use of a switch to advance Powerpoint slides.