In the Goofy Child's last meeting, the school psychologist had a bit of advice for me that I never even thought of... a homework log. He said documenting the things we do at home would go a long way in showing that we (as a team) are doing everything we can to help this child but even so, he needs more help. So, I did. I'm not sure what all I am supposed to be writing down, he said to include his OT time in the log so I don't know if I am supposed to write down the work we do in every area, or just school related areas. I went with school related areas, if that's not right, at least I have somewhere to start for next year's evaluations ;) We've kept on with the normal things as much as possible with the chaos that popped up but then I got this new phone and the entire world changed. This new phone has apps.
It all started as a series of events and an accident. Tuesday night, I went to Alex's PTO meeting. I don't really know what happened in the actual meeting, but the after party was awesome and I got some really great information on Alex. Alex really is working on academics and he's good at it. For example, the teacher reads a book and asks questions about it, Alex chooses pictures that answer her questions. For real. Someone sits behind him, but he does the work himself. This is interesting. and very exiting.
Yesterday morning, Alex had an appointment with his pediatrician to check his height and weight. After a night of hanging out, I always wake up feeling like I have a hangover so I'm not completely with it. Yesterday morning, I made a big mistake. I packed as if I were taking one of my other kids to the doctor- which means I packed nothing. No teething rings, no fruit loops, no sippy cup. The closest thing I had to entertainment was a folding brush with a mirror inside. Alex loves mirrors, but that didn't last long. Luckily, my new fancy phone came to my rescue with a notification that WiFi was available.
We watched Ooga. repeatedly. Great things happened here. When the video stops, he always vocal stims because he wants more. I know what he wants but I always ask, "again?" This time, I would say the word once and he would repeat it, "again. again." It was awesome! I didn't have to get his attention first, I didn't have to say it several times, just "again?" "again. again." Toward the end, we would say again and I would hand over hand help him start the video himself. He loved it.
After I took him to school and came home, I got to thinking about my new fancy phone and all the possibilities that just opened. I decided to check out the app store. The only apps I can get are free apps, of course, I'm still trying to figure out how to get $4 for a field trip in April so there's no way I can pay several hundred dollars for a communication app that I'm not even sure he'll use. So, I go looking for free apps under "autism" and "special education" and find several that I know he'll love. I found one communication app, just simply called Visuals by DeviceAvenue, that doesn't look too bad, it's simple and looks like cartoon drawings so maybe he'll catch on easier than line drawings, I found 2 bubble popping apps (Bubble Wrap and Bubble Pop) that don't keep score or have a purpose other than popping bubbles and I found animal apps that you touch the animal and it makes a sound(Farmyard Friends and Animal Sound Box). One of these (communication) may just be a pipe dream, but the others might help him with his goals for using a smart board in the classroom and could lead to using an ipad for communication. The best part, it seems to be working. He insists on it being hand over hand, he'll grab my hand if I don't hold his, but he likes touching the screen to make it do things.
Ok, so, while looking for apps for Alex, I ran across a few others and thought of Goofy. Herbi WriteAbout 2.3 is amazing. The goal is to make Herbi smile. I can't seem to link the video so here you go- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IfyLjdvFq3g and http://herbi.org. It's great. You use your finger to trace the letters following the red dot. You have to follow the dot to properly form the letter/shape/number or Herbi's not smiling. Goofy loves it! He would get so excited every time Herbi would smile. I enabled plenty of retries and had to point out to him that even though the letter looks sort of right, he didn't follow the dot but he ended up getting 29/31 right. That is very exciting.
The other one I found is called All Sight Words. It has all 315 Dolch sight words in 9 flash card decks. He reads the word and then I can tap the screen to have the word read. I can flag the ones he had trouble with or didn't get right, they get copied into another deck so that we can work more on them. He loves that tapping the screen reads the word. I have only used it with him twice but he hasn't complained once and smiles through it. We have gone from reading 10 sight words per session to reading 40-50 and I can easily keep track of how many he got correct out of the number we read.
This technology, this phone, has the potential to significantly improve the lives of both of my boys.
I read an article recently about why handheld devices should be banned for all kids under the age of 12. All I have to say about that, aside from what I just said above, is Cris Rowan needs to shut the fuck up. "Screen time" does not cause ADHD or autism. Handheld devices did not cause my boys' developmental delays, cognitive impairment, learning disabilities, or behavioral issues but handheld devices could and do help manage and improve them.