Assitive Technology — 5 Minutes for Special Needs

Assitive Technology


With J’s ‘improvements’ rapidly sliding down hill with the more time that passes between his last IVIG treatment and the present, we’re headed back down the road of massive meltdowns. Some of these are from our own doing. Case in point:

We headed to a local large store for FREE Santa photos. We left early enough to be there shortly after they opened. Apparently so did everyone else. It’s a large, large store, huge ceilings, lots of tasteful things on the wall. Festive lighting (not fluorescent), and stuff to see everywhere! Clothes, fish in HUGE fishtanks, Santa’s “area”, race car tracks, carnival style shooting ranges, train tracks and a carousel. Yep…large store. With A LOT of people. You see where this is going, right?

One kiddo with a host of needs, including Sensory Processing Disorder, in an overwhelming store, excited to see Santa, who happens to be sitting right next to (what is likely to be) his life long obsession – trains…a meltdown was imminent. Plus two other kiddos to entertain.

Though we made it through, it was not without a massive melt. Wobbly scarecrow legs, screaming, general uncontrollable wailing, a few bruises on my arms from biting, and in the middle of all this, after he sat nicely for Santa and gave said Santa a hug, we went to an area of the store that had something we so desperately needed. Ear phones.

Now we’ve been considering, over-shopping / researching these for some time. We were in a store that had them and he clearly needed a little bit of something to give him comfort (besides hoisting him up on a shoulder and running towards the door, tossing aside passerby’s with terror in our eyes). We got to “the isle”, started to ‘consider’ each item, when I finally just blurted out:


© Special HappensThe hubs obliged and started reading the selling points. In the middle of his read, with arms that apparently grew out of my sides to hold up J while tearing open the package, I did just that…tore open the package. I yanked them out and placed them on his head.



It all stopped.

The withering, the wailing, the concerned look from others turned into pure curious astonishment as to what they just saw. Immediate silence from a pair of blue “shooting range” headphones….my new love! He was comforted and we were able to walk out of the store relatively calm.

My Lesson Learned….if you think they need it, and you can get it, don’t over shop, don’t over think, just do it!


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What to do?

I have a few issues, just like everyone else.

However, my current giant flaw is my inability to be mean. Seriously, I’m totally a “tell it like it is” kinda girl, but I can usually say it with as much grace as I can muster. I don’t like to hurt people’s feelings or make them feel bad at all. It makes me cringe to hear others be hateful and ugly to anyone–be it cashier, receptionist, or even the doctor!

Tuesday, Jack had part one of his testing for this year’s IEP. He did terrible. It was painful to watch. They wanted a kid with an essential tremor to write and draw and lace a shoe (trust me, I get that they have to do it, but they drug it out far longer than they should).

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New year to begin…

I know what your thinking…NEW SCHOOL YEAR?   How many days till school starts???  I have a friend that started counting the minute summer started.  I enjoy our homeschooling time together.  I love the beginning of a new year…the goals for the year, the dreams of what you want to work on, the reality of what will really happen.  The fresh Sharpened pencils, crayons (even though we have 12 boxes already), the paper, the books, the construction paper…the excitement…the adventures. 

This past school year offically closed today.  My son had his evaluation that we have to turn into our school system with our next notification letter for the upcoming school year. 

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iPod Touch and iPad Apps for Special Needs

In my last post I mentioned how we use an iPod Touch to help Peanut communicate.  Dana, a speech pathologist, asked me what apps we have found useful in helping Peanut with her communication.  We have found a few apps that we like, but I thought it would be fun to see what everyone else is using.  I know there are so many apps to choose from!

Leave a comment with the apps you have found and what you like about them.  Also, if you know it, you might want to list how much it costs.

Here is my list.  I believe all of these apps can be used on the iPod or iPad.  

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The Lost Voice

This morning when I dropped Peanut off for school I realized I didn’t have her iPod Touch.  She uses her iPod touch to communicate at school and over the last several months it has been a great way for her to participate in class.  This isn’t the first time I have not had her “voice” when I took her to school, but those other times I was sure she had left it at school.  Today, however was different.  I was pretty sure it had come home with her.

Since I wasn’t going straight into work today, I came home to look for her voice. 

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Learning…I’ve not written about homeschooling yet so I thought maybe this would be a good time.  Homeschooling isn’t so typical for us, we have many challenges to get over.  We do use therapies as part of our daily routine (even if we are still on sabbatical from professional therapies at our local hospital).  We do a lot of reading…Last year we read 163 books (several times each).   This year we’re working on doubling that.  We’re in the 200’s right now.  Things that I have noticed lately are that my son appears to be more aware of his surroundings and is learning to place sounds. 

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Boardmaker Studio: Review and GIVEAWAY!

Patrick Blair is the winner!

There’s a FRESH spin on a Familiar Favorite in town!

Boardmaker Studio!

For more than 26 years, Mayer-Johnson has been committed to helping educators, speech-language pathologists, related professionals and parents make a connection with their students.

Boardmaker uses PCS (Picture Communication Symbols) to help your child learn communication skills

Parker’s speech therapist LOVES Boardmaker.

When she saw the Boardmaker Studio, her first words were, “Can I borrow that?”

And then I didn’t see it again for several weeks.



Boardmaker Studio includes your choice of authoring and editing tools, THOUSANDS of Picture Communication Symbols (PECS), hundreds of time saving templates AND……


Fun filled activities to complement your lessons and challenge your students:

  • Create a daily schedule.
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iPad for Autism: Selecting the best apps

“The iPad wasn’t designed with autistic children in mind, but, anecdotally, the results are seemingly miraculous,” say’s well known technology bloggers (and Apple Critic) John Gruber.

There is a lot of buzz in the autism world about the many ways that the iPad helps children with autism, for good reason.

As Ashley Harrell of SF Weekly, reports, there are other computers designed for children with autism, but a growing number of experts say that the iPad is better. It’s cheaper, faster, more versatile, more user-friendly, more portable, more engaging, and infinitely cooler for young people.

San Francisco’s own Shannon Des Roches Rosa has become a true expert on the subject.

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What’s up with the overpriced “special” toys?


Last week on my blog, I started a Special Needs Swap Shop. I offered up a $1600 PONY Gait Trainer that Max used when he was little (someone took it). Then I invited readers to send me e-mails mentioning what sort of stuff they were looking for, and to let me know what sort of things they had to give away. I ended up talking on the phone with Ali, mom to a kid with cp, and we commiserated over how expensive stuff for kids with disabilities can be. “It’s like, the second you attach the words ‘special needs’ to something you can charge double,” she said.

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Try This Tuesday #4: Bluetooth Prompting

Try This Tuesday

Today I want to share an idea that I think is very exciting and may be helpful at some point in the future with my son (although I think he’s a bit young for it right now!)

During the autism conference I recently attended, one of the lectures was on the topic of Applied Research. Dr. Peter Gerhardt from the Organization for Autism Research (OAR) talked about how they are working on taking research and translating it into practice, especially with adolescents and adults on the spectrum.

One of the creative techniques he shared was the use of Bluetooth technology to reduce the stigma of verbal prompting.

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