Third grader with genetic disorder can go to school with tech help

For Derek Hall, who has a condition that causes tumors to grow along his nerves, computers and communications devices allow him to conquer the odds and go to school.

Technology is enabling a third-grader with a debilitating genetic disorder to overcome his developmental disabilities, the Cumberland (WV) Times-News reports.

Derek Hall suffers from neurofibromatosis, a set of disorders that caused tumors to develop along his nerves, resulting in motor, learning, vision and speech difficulties. But, as profiled by the Council for Exceptional Children, is able to do well in school thanks to computers and a "Go Talk" communications device.

"Derek has made remarkable progress in his overall educational and social development," according to his teachers. "Currently in his third grade classroom, he participates with non-handicapped peers in all academic subjects with the (computer) modifications.

"He is able to mark answers independently on reading tests and takes his spelling tests using a laptop computer. In math, he also uses a laptop."

His teachers - Connie Harr and Sonja Stanislawczyk - were singled out for praise by the Council for "going the extra mile." And young Derek is receiving honors too:

"Derek has been nominated for West Virginia Council for Exceptional Children's 'Yes I Can' award for the year 2007-2008," Roberta Unger of the West Virginia chapter said. "In addition, if he wins at the state level, his portfolio of achievement will be sent to the International and National councils in hopes that he would win on that level."

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