Consumer Highlight: Karen Carichoff

David Frye instructing Karen Carichoff
I got the opportunity to go out with David Frye, Assistive Technology Specialist at Easter Seals Crossroads, and observe one of his last appointments with Karen Carichoff.

Karen is working with David to go over any issues she has since he recommended, installed, and trained her on Dragon Naturally Speaking. Dragon Naturally Speaking is speech recognition software that allows users to access their computer with verbal commands. This software can be used to create word documents, spreadsheets, e-mails and to surf the Internet.

Karen uses the dictation software to access her computer because she has continued to loose strength in her arms and hands due to Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis. When Karen was 14 she played tennis and she started to have pain in her arms. After multiple medical tests, she was diagnosed 2 years later at the Mayo Clinical. Since that time, she has had about 30 surgeries such as joint replacement and fusing her bones together in attempts to relieve pain and restore function in her joints.

Karen struggles with find motor skills so it is difficult for her to access a computer. In working with David, she has created a home office working space that has her computer with the speech recognition software, an ergonomically correct chair and a foot rest to position her in the most comfortable and supportive seating position.

Karen once worked as an Occupational Therapist at Easter Seals Crossroads. Once her condition progressed, she took a job at RHI Neuro Rehabilitation Center because the job was a little less physical and she could work fewer days. She eventually found herself not being able to keep up with the physical demands of an Occupational Therapist position.

Karen has now found a position with OutsideThe Box where she can work from home. Outside The Box is an organization that helps people with intellectual disabilities become more independent. Since she is no longer able to drive this enables her to not have to worry about transportation issues and allows her to work in her customized home office, working flexible hours when she is feeling her best. Karen will be working as a Career Support Specialist helping people with developmental delays find jobs. She will work with their job coaches to search for jobs and assist them in filling out job applications.

Karen indicates that she is so happy that she went to Crossroads to have an evaluation. She indicates that assistive technology, “allows me to access the computer and do various tasks I need to do for work with more ease, less pain, less fatigue and wear and tear on my joints. She would advise anyone struggling with any type of disability to call an Occupational Therapist or an Assistive Technology Specialist and say, “I want to do this (fill in blank) and I have these troubles. How can I access these things?”.

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