My 6-year old isn't thrilled, but the Intel Convertible Classmate is off on another expedition today. It will be spending the next few weeks with another 6-year old at his school. She is autistic and types quite a bit better than she writes. I'm hopeful that the touch-screen interface will also be beneficial to her, given some of her fine motor skill issues.
This particular girl has responded fairly well to our RTI software (Lexia and Symphony) and will be able to easily access it in class and at home, rather than exclusively during the computer lab time assigned to her class.
We know that these little computers, complete with handles, touchscreens, and serious durability, work very well with the K-6 age group. The kids really seem to bond with them and it makes one heck of a case for 1:1; unfortunately, funding often isn't aligned with what makes sense or works well. Now we'll get some feedback in this age group from a special needs perspective.
In the past, it's been difficult for us to provide 1:1 computing resources to kids with special needs. So often, though, even the ability to type rather than write is a very important accommodation (of course, looking at my own handwriting, it's probably an accommodation I should have as well). Inexpensive devices like the Classmate and other netbooks suddenly make this far more attainable, even if we can't afford school-wide 1:1 programs.
I'll report back as I hear from her teacher, classroom aides, and parents. One question I'm particularly hoping to answer is whether the added expense (and reduced durability) of the touch screen is easily justified in this case or if a clamshell Classmate or really inexpensive netbook would be just as appropriate as an accommodation.