An App with Great Potential for Picky Eaters & Problem Feeders!

Find it in the App Store
Check out this cool App designed to help kids try new foods! Giggle Apps did a great review on Kids Food Adventure this week and I just couldn't wait to play with this creative little App!

Kids Food Adventure a combination education and reinforcement App to help kids learn about new foods, try them, and rate them, in a fun way!  When I saw this App I immediately thought of how I might be able to use this in my feeding therapy sessions, especially for home programming and parent support!


New AAC App With a Core Words Approach!

Find it at the App Store
Thank you toTherapy App 411 for this awesome review of a great new App that looks and works a lot like MinSpeak/Unity on the PRC communication devices (e.g., Vantage, Vanguard)!

Speak For Yourself! (click link to the left for Therapy App 411 review) is an AAC App
that is rooted in the use of core word vocabulary (FINALLY!) and motor planning concepts to help kids with communication disabilities communicate more quickly and effectively!  Visit the developers website for additional info. Here is a video demo (produced by the developers and posted on You Tube)

 My only gripe is that there isn't a lite version :(. It is a pricey App at $299.00 and I know therapists and parents are going to want to try before they buy.  Maybe if enough of us suggest this to the developers they will throw us a Lite Version Bone :)
You have to check out this App and let us know what you think!  It is truly UNIQUE!

"My Special Needs Parent Resolutions For 2012"

What a great post from an awesome blog! This is a must read for all parents of kids with special needs!

My Special Needs Parent Resolutions For 2012

(The article linked above was originally posted on Parents.com by Ellen Seidel, 12/29/2011)


Free PDF Booklet on Building Switch Skills

Do you have a child or work with a child who uses a switch (or would benefit from using a switch) to access toys, computers, and more?  Are you stuck on how to help this child move forward with switch useCheck out this free booklet on Switch Skills Progression at The Spectronics Blog!
"This booklet collates over ten years of best practice research and classroom observations from around the globe. Detailing every stage of switch skills acquisition from cause-and-effect through to competent scanning, this document will help you plan meaningful and motivating routes to success for your switch users accessing communication, learning and leisure."-The Spectronics Blog.

I downloaded this doc totally free in PDF form and I could even read it in iBooks on my iPad!  Spectronics is following up with another free resource on Touch Skills Progression (i.e., training children to access the various touchscreen commands used on touch devices like iPad) in early January, 2012! 

Tips for Successful Switch Skill-Building

You put your incredibly bright little guy with CP in front of Help Kidz Learn  with a fabulous Jelly Bean switch and you have nothing but hope that he will know just what to do.  To your dismay, your well-thought plan turns into a scene out of the Flintstones rather quickly-Bam! Bam! Bam!  Many of us have seen this happen-the repeated bashing of a switch despite much support to help our kids get the full picture of the what and why of switches.  Could the problem lie in the teaching methods?

Here is an insightful article with some dialogue examples of how to use switch accessible computer activities (at the cause-effect level) to build switch skill progression in kids with special needs.  We all want our kids to achieve initial success with switches at an early stage and we certainly don’t want them to linger at the cause-effect stage for eternity!  This article is very helpful in painting a picture of how we, as guiding hands and minds, can frame these experiences a bit differently to reach new levels of success with our kids. 

Original Post at The Spectronics Blog: 
One, two, three… NO! | The Spectronics Blog

Free Webinar Trainings on Teaching Kids Switches

Spectronics is offering free webinars on a variety of topics for the new year, including a few on teaching switch use!  Check out the link below:
FREE Online Training | The Spectronics Blog

The first two topics are:

  • Jan 18th 2011: Getting the most from your switches AWAY from the computer
    Ideas for using switches away from the computer. Examples will be shown which match the key milestones and small steps from Ian’s Switch Progression Road Map.
    https://cc.readytalk.com/cc/s/showReg?udc=l3iycnibki6x This is an external link

  • Feb 15th 2012: Communication Devices in an Inclusive Classroom
    This webinar looks the use of single and multiple message communication devices and how they can be used as an integral part of the school day.

  • These webinars are FREE and also recorded, so you don't need to be signed on at the time to take advantage of them.  Follow the links above to register!  Thanks Spectronics!

    New Study on Behavior Problems and Early Birth

    Very interesting study posted on Science Daily:
    Kids born just a few weeks early at risk of behavioral problems, study suggests

    Gube App-Safer YouTube for Kids!

    Gube is a great new App that “filters” YouTube to provide a more kid-friendly, G-rated search and viewing platform. The App pre-screens videos and includes only those that are appropriate for the eyes and ears of babes! The library of the App contains thousands of videos chosen by the developers (parents) with new videos added regularly. Users can also submit video recommendations for consideration by the developers of Gube. Gube categorizes its catalog of videos by age, allowing you (as the caregiver/ professional) to display only those videos that fall within selected age groups (you can toggle these age groups in the settings of the App). The interface of the App looks and acts much like YouTube, with “Favorites”, “Recents” and “Featured” tabs, and also a search option (although it only searches those videos within the App, remember, not the entire Youtube database). Use of Gube with ahome button cover like the BubCap, orLasered Pics Home Button Guard and a durable case like the Big Frame or Otter Box lets allows kids to have a more independent, unsupervised viewing experience on You Tube without parents getting too nervous. J
    One feature that I would like to see included in this App is the ability for users to prescreen videos on YouTube themselves, and then upload these as links within the Gube App. This would allow therapists, teachers, and caregivers to load specific videos for lessons, themes, and activities within a safe viewing environment, giving Gube more applicability as a teaching tool and not just a source of entertainment. I would also love to seeswitch accessibility with this App as it is a simple, but wonderful platform to help motivate kids to learn how to useswitches! And how empowering to be able to play their own videos using their switches! How are you all using YouTube and other video platforms to enhance play and learning for your kids?


    "Why We Need Autism" Article on PediaStaff Blog

    Really unique article on Autism, thought I'd share :)

    "Why We Need Autism"

    Music Draw App, Great for Kids with Visual Impairments!

    Cover Art Music Draw Free is a nice App for children with visual impairment to create music by simply dragging their finger across a high contrast (neon on black) screen. The biggest downfall of this App is the glaring advertisement that takes up a considerable amount of screen space along the top of the display (huge bummer!). BUT, it's a free App and definitely a great starting point for kids with CVI, low vision, or other visual impairments to practice touch screen skills, cause-effect, and tracking. Pretty fun too :)!

    Narrow Your Search for Apps via Google

    Looking for new educational apps for kids with special needs? The latest Apps for Autism?  If you have typed any of these or other similar key words into a Google search box recently, you know just how daunting it can be to rummage through all of those links that have nothing to do with what you're looking for!  Check out this handy tip posted on Teaching All Students that shows you how to narrow your Google Search for Apps: Google Trick - Searching for Apps only (originally posted at http://teachingall.blogspot.com/)


    Cool Speech Therapy Tool: Little Printer available in 2012!

    Little Printer by Berg Cloud
     I know everyone wants to get info about Apps, but I just had to shift gears for a minute because I saw this and I really thought it was cool! Then, the more I thought about it, the more my mind raced with how I could use this really cool gadget to help kids with special needs!  Well, maybe indirectly, but humor me for a moment.

    Little Printer is a pint sized, thermal printer that uses similar technology to a receipt printer you might see at a retail store. The Berg Cloud company have integrated this technology with formatting software so that you can print different news articles, blog posts, and more in a visually appealing, pint-sized printout!  This product isn’t available for initial use until 2012 (L) so full exploration of its application in educational and therapeutic settings isn’t quite possible at the moment. However, I had a few brainstorming ideas that I hope to see through when I get my Little Printer (hopefully in early 2012)!

    I love using my iPad and other mobile technology in therapy sessions, classroom lessons, and training sessions with parents and colleagues.  BUT, sometimes I really need something in print! 
    • Wouldn't it be amazing to be able to link a parent to an online resource for information on a clinical topic and then print out the website, article etc... right there in your session? 
    • How about locating an evidenced based research article on a technique you are trying in your session for the first time and being able to print the abstract for your client's parent to review as you implement the technique in session?
    • What about loading data and progress stats from your favorite Apps like ArticPix and being able to send a quick, printed progress note home to mom straight from your mobile device?
    • And wouldn't it be cool to create little "mini handouts" at the end of your session where you can capture what you've discussed with mom and dad and provide bulleted tips in print for them to hang on the fridge? Or even integrate photos from your mobile device's photo library (of oral-motor exercise examples or products you'd like them to try etc...) to provide a visual to go along with your verbal home practice suggestions!
    I can only hope that Little Printer is just the start of this cool technology and that more companies bring similar, cost effective and useful resources to the therapeutic arena.  I hope to be able to try out many of the ideas above when I get my hands on a Little Printer-I'll let you all know the CAN's and CANNOT's of this cool little gadget as soon as I try it!

    $50 iTunes Gift Card for $40 at Walmart.com!

    Walmart is currently running a special online where you can get a $50 iTunes Gift Card (to purchase music and Apps from the iTunes Store) for $40! Supplies are limited and the cards must be purchased online with email delivery. The limit per order is 2 cards and I got my activation pin and instructions delivered to my email within an hour!.  Check it out on their site!


    Have a Child on a Special Diet? There's an App List for That!

    Apps for Cooking with Special Dietary Needs
    App Advice published a great starter list of Apps to assist in finding foods and preparing meals that adhere to special dietary restrictions (e.g., food allergies and intolerance)!  This could be a great tool to help families who struggle to balance the diets of their special kids with soy allergies, on GFCF Diets, and others.

     This could also be a great tool for professionals who want to stay informed on the foods their kids CAN have, especially around the holidays, when cooking and snack activities are very popular in educational and therapeutic settings. 

    Do you have an App you use to stay informed and safe on this topic?  Submit it in the comments below. :)

    The Magic Carpet Interactive Projector

    Spectronics Blog shared a great post on this new technology! 
    Amazing Sensory Guru technologies now here in ANZ | The Spectronics Blog

    I have used projectors with my iDevices before, especially to share books, videos, and pictures with my preschool class during Circle Time.  But I've never used an interactive one!  So cool-I hope this type of technology emerges in a manageable, affordable way (especially for iPad/iPhone/iPod Touch) for therapists and parents to use at home with special kids.  :)


    SNEAK's Peeks #2: The AAC Apps Assistant by AAC Tech Connect

    As promised, here is a peek at the AAC Apps Assistant, a web-based service (available for free trial until January 15, 2012) at AAC Tech Connect!  This is the first program that I know of to allow you to search for AAC Apps that run on multiple mobile platforms based on relevant criteria individual to different types of AAC users.  Check out the video demo below and go AAC Tech Connect to login for your free trial! :)


    The Apps Assistant is Available for Free Trial!

    A quick follow-up to a previous post:  The Apps Assistant, a web-based, fee-for- service resource that assists AAC professionals in narrowing down current AAC Apps based on a feature-match process is now available for free trial for a limited time at AAC Tech Connect!  Just create a free login account and you will be able to explore this great new tool in a matter of minutes!  For those of you who don’t have a chance to take advantage of this free trial, or those who may miss the trial window, I will create and post a demo video this week!  Check back tomorrow! :) Or go to AAC Tech Connect now to explore it for yourself!  (click on "Preview" to create login for free trial)

    SNEAK's Peeks #1: " I Like Books" by Grasshopper Apps

    I Like Books
    I Like Books (developed by Grasshopper Apps)includes 37 picture books for kids (in 1App!) with high quality, colorful photos, simple embedded text, and voice output!  Many elements of the stories are also fully customizable so you can change the voice output, change the story text, and even create photo "hot spots" that speak when they are touched! 

    Check out our SNEAK's Peeks video demo below (or click here to view on YouTube) for a quick introduction to this really cool storybook App!
    I really like the simplicity of this App and the photos are great!  I would like to see the ability to use your own photos added to future upgrades.  This feature would expand this App's potential as a platform for creating adapted stories and social stories for children with special needs.  For children with higher level language skills, I think this App is a great way to elicit simple narratives based on the pictures provided in each story.  The kids can even record their story retell or spontaneous narrative as they look at the pictures and then have the App read their own story back to them! 

    Introducing "SNEAK's Peeks"!

    SNEAK’s Peeks is a weekly video feature on SNEAK Outside the Box where we showcase a video demo of a new App each week!  Check out our first episode, a video demo and commentary of the new App from Grasshopper Apps, “I Like Books”. 

    Check back weekly for new peeks! 

    Have an App you’d like us to demo before you buy? Comment here and let us know!


    Drop Box App-Who Needs a Flash Drive Anymore?

    In a previous post on iCloud, I sadly mentioned how the fact that I can’t share my videos between my devices using iCloud is really cramping my style!  I also mentioned Drop Box and I thought I’d take a moment to elaborate for those who aren’t familiar with this incredibly useful tool.  Think of Drop Box as a flash drive (USB drive, USB key) of sorts.  By loading Drop Box onto your PC/MAC, creating a free account (that also allows you to use Drop Box as a guest on their web-based server when you are away from your computer), and then installing the free Drop Box App on your iDevice(s), you can have ALL of your files at your finger tips, ALL at one time, on ALL of your devices!  That includes documents, videos, pictures, Power Point or Keynote presentations and more!  It’s easy to set up and even easier to use! As you can tell, I can’t contain my excitement.:)  Check out the very cool intro video above.  You can also get more info on their website (including  the PC/MAC download).  And, of course, you can download the Drop Box App from the App Store. :) Here’s to getting organized!

    iCloud to the Rescue!

    Apple iCloud
    If you haven't already explored iCloud on the new iPad/iPhone/iPod Touch upgrade (IOS 5), procrastinate no longer! The days of emailing the photo you took on your iPhone (to yourself) so that you can open it on your iPad, which has the App you need to create that thing you need (the App which is NOT on your iPhone)…. are OVER! iCloud makes it easier to integrate all of your iDevices, allowing you to share photos and music, sync apps, contacts, notes, docs, and calendars, and even back up your devices, ALL without ever connecting to a computer! It’s relatively easy to set up, and for basic use, entirely FREE! Check out Apple’s iCloud online info page for a simple overview and demo videos. You can also check out YouTube for a host of How-to videos to walk you through the features of iCloud, as well as step-by-step guides on setting it up on your iDevices. Now I only wish Photo Stream (on iCloud) shared my videos too. :(   I guess Drop Box will have to do for now. :)


    14 Apps for AAC

    No Limits to Learning shared a post today on AAC Apps that is particularly nice because it includes links to YouTube video demos on the Apps discussed.  This post was two parts, the links are below.

    No Limits to Learning: 14 Apps for AAC, Part One:
    No Limits to Learning: 14 Apps for AAC, Part Two

    Although these App lists are very helpful in keeping up with the incredible amount of AAC Apps currently available for iDevices, parents and professionals are still left with the question of which one is best for their kids. This is further complicated by the fact that many of the AAC Apps currently available do not offer demo versions in the App Store, nor do the App developers offer sales representative services in which the Apps can be    demonstrated at an AAC evaluation. 

    Feature matching is a strategy used by AAC professionals to assess currently available AAC technology with regard to various "features" (e.g., the symbols on the device, the manners in which a user can access or interact with the device, etc...) and then to match those features with the needs of the AAC user to assist in finding the best AAC system for that user.  As you can imagine, this can be a cross-referencing nightmare!  Luckily, in the field of AAC devices, many professionals and companies have attempted to simplify this task by compiling feature-match charts and creating software programs to help professionals and families narrow the search for the best system.  

    AAC Tech Connect, a site with many AAC resources and tools to offer (for free and fee) comes a bit closer to categorizing popular AAC Apps by feature (e.g., “Apps with Pictures” and “Apps with Spelling”).  It appears that they plan to release a fee-for-service tool called “AAC Apps Assistant” at some point this month (although a release date was unclear on their website, as was whether this tool would be web-based or run directly on an iDevice).  The sample layout of the assistant shown on the website appears pretty promising.  I look forward to checking it out and being able to follow up on its relevance in later posts. :) 

    POST UPDATE:  As of December13, 2011,The Apps Assistant is available (free trial for a limited time) at AAC Tech Connect!  (Click on "Preview" to set up login for free trial)

    Does anyone have a feature match or other AAC App selection tool that they currently use?


    101+ Ideas for Using the BIGmack or Other Single Message Communication Devices : Spectronics - Inclusive Learning Technologies

    Such a great post on a question many of us have had: what else can I do with a Big Mack?

    101+ Ideas for Using the BIGmack or Other Single Message Communication Devices : Spectronics - Inclusive Learning Technologies

    Assistive Touch on iPad Assists Access to the Touch Screen!

    iPhone Stuffs
    In the new Apple IOS 5 update for iPad, iPhone, and iTouch, there are many new features, including Assistive Touch, a really innovative accessibility feature that allows physically impaired users to access the multiple finger "tap", "swipe" and "pinch" features (among others) of the touch screen in a more easily accessible way.  This feature doesn't totally solve the access issues of the touch screen for our physically limited little guys, but it is a great start!  Check out the video below for a quick demo of how it works.  To see some of the other adaptive features built into the new IOS 5, check out 20+ New Ways Students With Special Needs Can Use iOS 5 | Edudemic.  I hope that this new feature opens the flood gates at Apple for improve motor accessibility on iDevices.  Would screen sensitivity settings be fabulous? (Hint Hint, Apple!).

    Tanna's Top 10 Traditional Toys (with a Twist!)

    Baby Wonderland Gifts
     As promised in an earlier post  (Awesome Holiday Gifts for Special Kids), here is my list of the simplest but most versatile, traditional toys for targeting cognitive, physical and communication skills while playing with kids who have special needs.  Many of these toys can be adapted to suit the level of support needed by your child.  They don't come with all of the bells and whistles of a computerized toy or iPad, but I think they have their place as essentials in every child's toy box. :) As a speech therapist, I NEVER leave home without them!  These toys can be purchased at most toy stores (and even dollar stores), or you can buy them online here from Amazon. :) (Visit the SNEAK aStore for great toy ideas for special kids)

     1.  Bubbles
    Bubbles entertain children of all ages!  They are a great way to practice fine motor skills like putting in and taking out, isolating a finger to pop, and pinching or grasping the bubble wand;  gross motor skills like stomping, jumping, swatting, and waving arms; and oral skills like rounding lips to blow.  You can also create many communication opportunities with bubbles by talking about what you see, do, and experience.  What do your bubbles look like?  Where are they going? How do they feel on your fingers?  Talking about the play experience models language for children in a context that is concrete and fun.  Use words like up, down, blow, in, out, stomp, pop, high, low, wet, dry, fun, yucky, and more!  Bubbles can be adapted to support children with motor limitations by using bubble machines, bubble blowers, or bubble wands that only require gross movements to work. 

     2.  Blocks 
    Blocks are a great way for special kids to practice constructive play.  Simple, flat blocks versus those that needd to interlock in a certain way (e.g., Legos, bristle blocks) are the best because of their flexible use.  Create towers, houses, farms, schools and buildings with your blocks.  Talk about what you are building, how it looks, and what you do in it.  Combine blocks with other toys to expand play experiences, such as crashing them with cars or using toy figures to pretend inside of the structures you have created.  Children can expand their imagination by using blocks to create symbolic things.  Talking about your play experience models language and actions for your child, giving them the words they need to understand and express the things they are doing while they play.  Use words like on, off, fall, build, up, high, down, low, oh no!, tall, big, little, etc...  Blocks can be adapted for children with physical challenges by adjusting the size and consistency of the block (soft or hard) depending on the child's needs and adding magnets or velcro to the blocks to help them stack more securely so that less precision is needed in building.  Check out these magnetic blocks!

     3.  Balls
    Ball play is an early way to take turns with play mates.  It is also a great way to build gross and fine motor skills and learn language.  Use different balls and talk about their differences to practice new words like big, little, soft, hard, and colors.  Combine balls with other toys to expand play, such as knocking blocks or pins down like a bowling game, throwing balls into clothes hampers or boxes for basketball, rolling under tables and over couches.  Using balls in different ways helps expand the language that you can model about the experience.  Balls can be adapted to suit different physical needs by using different sizes and shapes.  You can also use lighter or heavier balls depending on the needs of the child.  Some balls even come with holes to make them easier to grasp and throw (like the Oball).  Using balloons as balls is a nice way to help children with motor challenges get the time they need to catch a ball(because the balloons float). 

     4.  Books
    Choose books specifically for the learning level of your child.  Books are a great tool to learn new words, practice answering questions, and explore new people, places, items, and actions.  Books with simple, repetitive language are great for teaching early literacy skills and for setting a stage for communication.  Don't be confined by the words written on the page, you can always change a book to suit the interests and learning level of your child with just a little imagination.  Let loose and use silly voices, sounds, and songs to help engage your child.  Encourage interaction with the book by pointing to pictures, pretending with the pictures, and acting out the actions in the story.  Books can be adapted for children with physical challenges in a variety of ways, including adding binder clips or velcro between pages to make them easier to turn and securing books to a table top easel so that they are easier to see and flip through. 

     5.  Mr. Potato Head
    Mr. Potato Head is another great, versatile, constructive and pretend play toy!  Practice body part names and concepts like putting in and taking out.  Talk about spatial concepts like the eyes are over the nose, the ears are on the side, and the shoes are on the bottom.  Use larger sets of Potato Head pieces to compare the differences between eyes, shoes, and ears, such as their shape, size, and color. To make Mr. potato easier to grab and hold, attach a handle on his back with a shower curtain ring or wooden knob by using hot glue. You can also use velcro on the head and pieces (soft side on the head, bumpy on all of the pieces) to help the pieces stay in place.  Once you build your Potato Head pieces, combine him with other toys to expand pretend play.  Have him crash your block tower, make him a meal with play utensils and food, or take him for a ride on a toy car! 

     6.  Crayons & Paper
    Other than the obvious use of coloring with the crayons on the paper, I like to use this simple toy to expand the play of other toys.  If you are playing with a train, draw a train track for it to chug on!  If you are playing with a rubber duck, how about drawing a pond for him to swim in!  Using drawn environments with physical toys helps kids meld the lines of real and abstract and really gets their brains making connections!

     7.  Play Doh
    Play Doh can be used with children of young ages as long as you supervise!  This toy is a favorite of ALL kids and a great tool for enhancing many developmental skills (not to mention, a cool sensory experience).  The play and language modeling possibilities are limited only by imagination!  Use play doh as a tool to create a platform for pretending!

     8.  Toy Figures
    Toy figures like animals, action figures, and people are also very open-ended toys for practicing pretend play.  They can be combined with other toys and settings in the home to create wonderful play scenes and opportunities for learning and communication. 

     9.  Common Objects Box
    Dishes, toy food, a brush, keys, a hat-you name it!  Kids learn language and other developmental skills by watching daily routines and imitating them.  A clear plastic bin or drawstring laundry bag with a variety of common household objects and small toys inside is a great tool for open-ended play, pretending, and learning life skills. 

    10.  Wooden Puzzles
    Puzzles can be tricky for kids with special needs but I LOVE them for setting the stage for interaction.  Use wooden puzzles with large knobs that display pictures that interest your child.  Pretend with the puzzle pieces, hide them in pockets, containers, or around the house, and use silly voices and sounds to help engage your child in puzzle play.  You can adapt puzzles with small pegs for handles by adding rubber pencil erasers (the kind you put on top of your pencil when the eraser runs out) with hot glue to each peg.  This makes a nice surface for kids with motor challenges to grip pieces. 

    Read more about these toys and buy them online at the SNEAK aStore.  :)  When you purchase items by linking to Amazon through the SNEAK aStore, you help support our blog at no extra cost to you. 

    Want to know more specifics about how to adapt these toys and use them to play with your special child? 

    Tech for Triston Update!

    We reached (and exceeded!) our fundraising goal for Triston yesterday! Thank you again to everyone who supported Triston and his family! VisitSNEAK outside the box: Tech for Triston Fundraiser for those who still wish to donate. The family and I will work closely together throughout this week to initiate the order for Triston's equipment. We hope to receive everything he needs to get started before the holidays!

    SNEAK encourages others to start a Give Froward campaign to get much needed equipment to a special needs child in your community!


    Installing Apps on all of Your iDevices

    I get asked often by parents "If I buy an App for my iPhone, can I use it on my child's iPad?" (and vice versa). Absolutely! Whenever you download an App from the App Store, it will show up as "INSTALL" in the App Store (where it usually says the cost of the App, "free", "$0.99", etc...). Touching "INSTALL" will download that App onto the iDevice you are using (iPhone, iTouch, iPad) at no additional cost.

    However, here are a few things to keep in mind:
    • You must be signed in under the Apple ID that you used to download the App originally in order for the App Store to recognize that you have already downloaded the App and show "INSTALL" rather than the cost of the App.  Most of us only have one Apple ID, so this isn't a problem.  But for those who have multiple ITunes accounts (and therefore, multiple ID's), make sure you sign in under the right one. :)
    • Certain Apps save your information (e.g., game scores, drawings you create, etc...) within the iDevice rather than on a server linked with the App Developer.  You can usually tell these Apps because they don't require you to use a sign-in ID and password to establish your account when you set-up the App in the beginning. Other Apps, such as Pandora Radio for example, store your information on a server outside of your iDevice.   This is important to note because if  you are using an App that saves information on your iDevice versus a server, you will not see this stored information in the App when you install it on your other devices.  If the App stored your information on a server however, this information is available form any version of the App on any iDevice.
    • Some Apps have different versions for iPhone/iTouch versus iPad.  Other Apps are designed to work on all iDevices equally.  This is important to note because if you download an iPhone/iTouch App that is only designed to work on an iPhone/iTouch, it will look differentl on an iPad (although it will still work on an iPad).  Conversely, however, if you download an App that is designed to work ONLY ON AN iPad, it WILL NOT RUN on an iTouch or iPhone.  Most App developers are trying their best to develop Apps for all platforms now, but there are still some out there where you will run into this problem. 
    What other questions about iDevice techy information do you have? 


    Tech for Triston Fundraiser Update

    SNEAK outside the box: Tech for Triston Fundraiser Update! We are almost there! Endless THANKS to those who came together so quickly to donate to Triston and his family! We have raised over $800 so far and it has only been two days! Totally amazing! We still have a bit to go so we are asking everyone to visit the Give Forward link on SNEAK OTB's home page (http://www.sneakotb.com) and donate (whatever you can) to help fund an iPad communication system for Triston. Let's put this incredible gift of opportunity under the tree for Triston before Christmas! :)

    Positioning Options for iPad

    There are many table stands and iPad carrying cases with built in stands on the market.  But I write this post with our kids with significant gross and fine motor challenges in mind. Some of our kids, such as those with SMA or other conditions which result in immobility, spend a lot of their day at home on the couch or in bed.  This makes table stands for iPad a bit tricky.  Here are a few of the more innovative iPad stands out there and a bit of info on why I think they could be really cool positioning options for these little guys.

    The CushPad is a specially designed cushion made to hold your iPad 2 on uneven or unstable surfaces, such as: a couch, bed, airplane tray-table, or your lap!  The disadvantage of this stand is that it does not offer adjustable viewing angles.  However, it is cost effective, at around $35, and works as a nice solution for side-lying on the couch or bed.  The company is also hosting a promotion on their website for $5 off by "liking: them on Facebook (a few other ways to get the coupon as well).  

    Prop 'n Go Hybrid Lap Stand for iPad (& Kindle) is a nice alternative to The CushPad for those kids who need adjustable angles for optimal viewing.  This stand includes 14 easily adjusted angles (iPad reclines between 9° and 75°), a universal design that  fits iPad, iPad 2, and any tablet, and a breath-easy comfy base with an stand built-i.The price isn't too bad at around $50 through Amazon.

    iProp is a flexible floor stand that allows for 360 degrees of rotation. This is helpful in achieving difficult angles if viewing reclined in a chair, laying on the couch, or in bed. Because it is a floor stand, it also allows for closer viewing position, helpful for children with visual impairment who may need to view the screen more closely.  The combination of flexible height adjustments and 360 degrees of rotation also make this stand work well for children who need unique positioning to access the touch screen.    

    What stands have you used with your kids?

    FREE Online Resources | The Spectronics Blog

    Here is a great online resource to find some of the best educational Apps currently on the market. (posted br Spectromics Blog out of Australia).
    FREE Online Resources | The Spectronics Blog

    I haven't checked any of the Apps out, but I plan to, and will give you my scoop as I explore. :). What do you think of the resource lit?
    have you tried any of the Apps on the list with you kids? Let us know! :)


    A Appy Holiday

    from Moms with Apps
    So you're a busy mom and you want to keep up to date on the latest educational apps for kids?  You might wonder, is there an App for that?  Well of course there is!  An App for finding Apps, how clever! :).  This week, Moms with Apps included an App called Apps for Moms in their App Review section.  This App is BY NO MEANS a comprehensive list of Apps that suit the categories presented; BUT, it's a cool way to get up to date information on SOME Apps, and even includes Apps on other "mom related" topics. 

    Got another App finder App that you like to use?  Comment here to share it. :)

    Online AT Conference-Techknowledgy 2011

    Get informed about how to implement technology for your kids without changing out of your PJ's! :)  Check out this cool project shared on The Assistive Technology Blog where you can attend AT workshops online!  Techknowledgy 2011 has a nice selection of topics including "AT Solutions for the Early Childhood Population" and "AT Solutions for Communication and AAC" The conferences are quick and many include vieos!  Super cool, check it out and let me know what you think.


    Bub Caps to Cover Home Button for IPad

    A quick follow-up to my post on Keyguards for iPad.  Here is another solution to cover the home button so your kids can't get to it!  Check out Bub Caps here.  Cost effective like the Home Button Strip from Lasered Pics (reviewed previously).  So nice to have options! :)

    Awesome Holiday Gifts for Special Kids

    Parents often ask me what toys to buy for their special kids, as many traditional toys are not made with special needs in mind.  I came across  a link to the 2011 Gift Guide for Individuals Living with Paralysis (compiled by the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation) and I was inspired to share the link, and to also compile a list of my own. :)  Below I have listed some web resources that I have used to help guide the gift buying process.  Check these out and share them with the families you serve.  I will follow up with my own tips and tricks on adapting my Top 10 Traditional Toys to suit the special needs of kid's with cognitive and physical limitations (that and more, in a later post. :) 

    Toys R' Us Toy Guide for Differently-Abled Kids is an amazing compilation of great, traditional toys (non-adapted) that is compiled by Toys R' Us with the professional guidance of the play experts at Lekotek.  This guide is available in Spanish and English, Flash version and PDF, which makes it great for sharing with families.  You can also order print version of the guide (free or charge) to distribute at your school or center.  The greatest part of this guide is that it showcases toys that are easily accessible for most families as they can be purchased locally and don't usually cost as much as adapted toys.  The guide is conveniently organized so that toys are accompanied by symbols to help parents find those toys that promote different skills, such as Auditory, Language, Social, Creativity, and Fine and Gross Motor Skills.

    Fisher Price Toys & Playtime Tips for Children with Special Needs is a web resource provided by Fisher Price with the guidance of the experts at the Let;s Play Project.  Although it does not currently provide specific toy suggestions, it allows parents to pick the level of support their child needs in certain developmental areas (Hearing, Seeing, Talking etc...) and then provides general toy buying tips on features to look for in toys to make them more accessible.

    Visit the SNEAK aStore to find these great toys, and other, hand-picked toys for special needs kids that you can buy easily from Amazon!


    Use Your iPad as a Switch

    I nearly fell over when I saw this App in the App Store the other day!  Attainment Company makes an App called Attainment Switch ($4.99)  that turns your iPad into a switch to access switch accessible activities on a Mac or PC (software games or web-based).  It's easy to set up and has a simple interface that you can even add symbols to (from your computer or iPad Photo library).  I had to install a free helper program on my computer (click here to download the helper software for Mac or PC)) so that the Attainment Switch App and the computer could communicate with each other.  I was up and running within 5 minutes or less! 

    So then I went to one of my favorite switch games website, Help Kidz Learn and started to get really bummed out. :(  Many of the games on the site don't work with my new switch App!  I investigated this from numerous angles, and even had my software engineer hubby on the ob, and I know for sure that it isn't a malfunction of the switch.  It seems that certain switch games are "written" (software programming language) differently and aren't able to respond to the message my Attainment Switch is sending out.  This didn't discourage me too much though-I wrote an email to the Help Kidz Learn folks and hope they can sort this out.  I think I will contact Attainment Company about the problem as well and follow up with their responses in a later post. 

    But for now, here is a list of the activities on Help Kidz Learn that DO WORK with the Attainment Switch (and I had a blast using it!). 

    Early Steps
    Big Bang Colours

    Christmas Presents

    Five Little Firefighters
    Five Sharks Swimming

    Card Maker Lite
    Mosaic Painter
    Build a Sandcastle

    Find Out
    Talking Clock 

    Has anyone use the Attainment Switch App?  What other sites/games work with it?


    Blue2 Switch for iDevices

    Speaking of accessing the iPad with motor challenges, here's a great review of the Ablenet Blue2 switch for iPad, iPhone, and iTouch at Spech-Language Pathology Sharing.

     The review also highlights the current limitations of switch access on iDevices, namely the currently limited availability of switch enabled Apps.  Hopefully developers here our cries loud and clear:  "More Switch Accessible Apps!  More Switch Accessible Apps!"

    Keyguards for iPad

    If there is one area of accessibility in which idevices fall short (I personally think there is more than one, but that's for another day, another post:) it is versatility of access method. A touch screen, although strikingly sensitive and easy for us to use, presents significant challenges for kids with muscle tone issues. Check out this review of Keyguards for iPad on SNApps4Kids. The Keyguards are made by a company called Lasered Pics out of Minnesota. They have some standard layouts for popular AAC Apps like Proloquo2Go, but also make to order for the needs of the customer. Most of the products are very affordable, ranging around 20 bucks on average. I haven't used the guards with my kids yet, but I have my eye on one specifically for my first purchase!

    The Home Button Strip keeps your kids on the App at hand and off the home screen! :) I will check back in to let you know how it goes with my home button endeavors. :)

    Any thoughts on these products from those who have used them?

    Now if we can just do something about that pesky screen sensitivity!


    Adapted Scribbling-You Don't Always Need an App for That

    In my previous post, I mentioned that ever-present hurdle of getting our kids with significant cognitive and physical challenges to engage in drawing and coloring activities, or any arts and crafts project for that matter! The fact of the matter is, these activities are really hard for our kids, challenging many of their sensory, cognitive, and motor systems all at once, and, frankly, the effort tends to outweigh the reward. I had the great fortune of working as lead teacher in a small language enriched, special-needs preschool program in Florida, which gave me the unique opportunity to do something many speech therapists don't generally get to do-make "coloring" my business! :) Well, at least for the 15 to 20 minutes of the school day reserved for art time. You might be wondering(especially if you are a speech therapist, always focused on verbal output) "what's the big deal about coloring anyway?".

    I recently stumbled across a unique web article, "When Children Draw" By Sandra Crosser, Ph.D (out of Ohio Northern University) which provided some nice insight on the role of "doodling" in well-rounded child development. We know it is important, not only to motor skill development, but also to cognitive, emotional, and social development. So how can we bring this developmental gem to our kids with challenges in a way they can manage, and more importantly, enjoy?

    One way is certainly through Apps like Glow Coloring and others which add unique visual elements and modify the physical requirements usually needed for traditional scribbling, such as grasping a crayon and applying enough pressure to make a mark. But prior to using the iPad for adapted art, I found many "lower tech" adaptations that seemed to do the trick for many of my kids. One product I just HAD to have the moment the ad rolled across my TV screen was Crayola's Color Me a Song. By adding music to scribbles, Color Me a Song got many of my clients on the Autism Spectrum to pick up a crayon (and use it for awhile:)! I even used this cool tool t to teach color concepts by having my kids match the musical instrument button to the crayon color and show me what "blue" sounded like. As the scribbles speed up and slow, so does the music, making this a great tool for teaching qualitative concepts like fast, slow, quiet, and noisy in a multisensory way. Adapted crayons and paper stability can be used for those kids requiring more motor support. Other than that, for under 20 bucks (including flat sided, chunky crayons which come in the storage compartment!), you might just be surprised at how motivating this simple toy can be. What other adaptations (high, low, or no tech) have you used to help your kids catch the creativity bug?