Tuesday, May 18, 2010

iPods in the Classroom? A Primer for Parents

Parents, educators and assistive technology pros are abuzz about ways to use Apple’s iPod Touch and iPhone to support special education students in the classroom. With the release of Apple’s new larger iPad, the potential for these supports has now expanded to help children and adults who have difficulty using small screens. Here’s what you need to know to help your kids learn with these types of new assistive technology devices. Read my article published in the latest issue of the FCSN Newsline:

iPods in the Classroom, from FCSN Newsline Spring 2010

List of  Special Education Apps (repost)

Coming soon - My Step by Step Guide to Adapting an iPad for Individuals with Developmental Disabilities!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Ideas for Funding the Assistive Technology Your Child Needs

I have recently started writing the Assistive Technology (AT) column for the Federation's Newsline newsletter. As a parent of a child who uses lots of AT, I have become a defacto parent expert on the subject!  Here's a repost from my most recent article on funding AT.

Assistive technology is a broad term that includes a wide range of devices that make it easier for individuals with disabilities to perform certain tasks. Examples include wheelchairs, orthotics, communication devices, computers, software, adapted utensils, dressing aides, large print materials, and even Velcro. In general, AT that is medically necessary is called Durable Medical Equipment (DME). Some AT is very expensive and many families will require financial assistance to purchase it. Here are eight ideas for funding the AT your child needs to succeed in school, community, and family life.

Read the full article online: FCSN's Winter Newsletter.

Stray Thoughts About Motivators

Cute photo right - cute kid, cute cat. What's the big deal? Well, it actually is a big deal to us. Our son has cerebral palsy which impacts his motor coordination and makes it harder for him to move independently. He does crawl but he was not able to get onto a seat without assistance until Ozzy, our rescue kitty, found a comfy perch on the cushions. Ozzy, it turns out, has been is a huge motivator for Graham. Graham crawls around from room to room chasing the cat and figured out how to get himself onto the couch - by himself- to pet the cat. Clearly this is a skill he had been practicing in PT at school but he put that skill into practice to get to something he really wanted - a fuzzy kitty. Proof once again that good motivators are so key to getting our kids to learn and act. My husband and I are still surprized when we find Graham sitting on the couch with a book.  Now if only we could get Ozzy more motivated to return the enthusiasm....

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Uphill (and Downhill) All the Way

When you live in New England, the cold winter is FAR more enjoyable if you embrace the outdoors. And we try to do that. My son and husband are an adapted downhill skiing team with New England Handicapped Sports Association located at Mount Sunapee in NH. But this year we all tried something new - adapted kick sledding.

Graham (soon to be 14!) is too long to fit in a kids sled but he does enjoy the outdoors, especially if speed is involved. Recently Outdoor Access offered an adapted kick sled program near our home. What's that you say? Kick sleds are used for transporation throughout Scandanavia and are are available here in the US from several companies. They are light weight, portable and can be modified pretty easily for individuals who need more support. The sled we tried was modified with a spare wheelchair seat back that provided some lateral support. A foldable camp seat works well too. With a little help from Dad in the rear, off we went! It steers pretty easily and cruises. And yes, I played husky for my daughter. It was a good work out but the rosy cheeks and smiles were worth it.

For more info about Outdoor Access contact Brenda K Davies, OTR/L, 413-259-0009.

For more info about outdoor adapted recreation in Massachusetts and beyond, see the great blog http://www.everyoneoutdoors.blogspot.com/ by Marcy Marchello, Universal Access Program Coordinator at the Massachusetts Dept. of Conservation and Recreation.  

Friday, January 15, 2010

Support Children with Special Needs in Haiti

The Cotting School here in Massachusetts, one of the oldest private schools for children with disabilities, asks for your support of their sister school, Wings of Hope, based in Port au Prince, Haiti. While their school building was severely damaged, fortunately all the students and staff are alive.

Before the earthquake at Wings of Hope, there was no running water and only 2 hours of electricity per day. And this is considered the finest program in Haiti for children with special needs! In addition, all of the children were abandoned and live at Wings of Hope their entire lives. All without government support.

Your donation is vital to helping them rebuild. You can help make Wings of Hope even stronger by donating on-line to http://www.heartswithhaiti.org/ (a 501c3 organization). All the funds go to support the rebuilding effort. If you would rather send a check, please make it payable to: Hearts with Haiti and mail it to 11503 Springfield Pike, Cincinnati, OH 45246. Please enclose a note saying the money is for the Wings of Hope school. Thanks for your support.

For more info and updates about the Wings of Hope School, see http://www.heartswithhaiti.org/

Cones for Kids with Special Needs

Here's a chance to do two great things with your kids: donate to a good cause, and gobble up some ice cream. Friendly's restaurants have started their annual Cones for Kids campaign to benefit Easter Seals camps for children with disabilities. Make a dollar donation now through February 13, and in addition to helping kids have a fun camp experience, you'll get five Valentine cards good for free ice cream cones, plus a $5 off coupon toward a purchase of $25 or more. It's not cheating on your diet if it's for a good cause, right?

More info from Easter Seals and Friendly's

REPOSTED FROM Terri Mauro, About.com: Parenting Special Needs

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

A Short Poem

This is a short poem about chance, hope, reality and love.

A Different Kind of Lottery

one in a million
a different kind of lottery

grand prize
million dollar smile
exquisite soul
body under construction

pure luck, pure love
our blood, our love

light as a feather
big arms around
this eternal treasure

million dollar smile
winners forever

A guest post by Pete Sargent, my husband and dad to Graham who has cerebral palsy. Thank you. Still rivers run deep.