London Mabie, 10, is going to the beach in April, so she turned to her father last week and asked, “May I bring pillow please?”
“I was thrilled. I almost cried. It was such a breakthrough. She started doing spontaneous sentences late last year,” said Lee Mabie, London’s father and AT&T director of emerging consumer markets.
London was born with a rare genetic condition called Tetrasomy 18 p. Her developmental age is about 4. Thanks to a pioneering Connected Child program -- inspired by ideas from an AT&T advisory panel -- she is finally making great strides in learning.
“I gave London a big hug,” Lee said. “She was proud of herself. Then I said, I’ve got to let everybody know about this.’ I went into her Web app and shared her progress with her caregivers.”
Making connections when it really matters
Lee, who lives in Atlanta, leads the team running the AT&T Advisory Panel on Access and Aging. The panel, made up of outside experts and AT&T employees, advises all business units about topics related to people with disabilities and the aging community.
Lee decided to develop the Connected Child because of his compelling, personal interest in the project.
He created the London App using an HTML5 Software Developer Kit from the AT&T Developer Program. By using smartphones, tablets and the London App, London’s various caregivers and parents all connect regularly, sharing information essential to London’s development.
“AT&T is a company about connections,” he said. “We are in a unique position to make a difference in people’s lives.”
The power of video
And London herself is using our technology to stay interested in learning.
For instance, several years ago, Lee filmed London’s younger brother, Jack, naming and valuing coins. London’s teachers estimated it would take her at least a year to do the same.
London liked watching the Jack-and-the-coins video, loaded on a tablet. Within a mere three months, London learned how to name and value coins. With this milestone, the Connected Child was born.
“We really found we were on to something. It really became a standard practice to create video models linked to London’s goals.”
Now, when London brushes her teeth, she follows along with a video of Jack brushing his teeth. The tablet is propped next to her bathroom sink.
London’s story comes to life
A video about her was recently entered in a contest at an annual film festival. Watch here. The 10 videos with the most votes will become finalists, and a panel of judges will determine the winner.
“This may sound corny,” Lee said, “but I think of London’s education as a living, breathing thing… disparate people being connected where they weren’t before. Her education continues all day.”
In fact, he said, the only place where technology isn’t allowed is the dinner table, where the Mabie clan gathers almost every night.
“We are all there and the screens are off. That’s where we connect personally – face to face.”