New App For Picky Eaters & Problem Feeders On the Way!

The awesome developers of Kids Food Adventure, an App to help kids explore new foods, recently reached out to SNEAK on the SNEAK Freestyle Forum about a new App in development that promises to be even more tailored to the needs of kids with sensory feeding aversions.



Daniela from Haymachine Entertainment shared the following about this new App in the making:

A thank you to SNEAK outside the box and many parents of children with food sensitivity issues for commenting on Kids Food Adventure and giving it a try!


Kids Food Adventure was designed to challenge a child's taste buds and to make learning about new, healthy foods fun. The app offers choices and gives kids an opportunity to earn virtual stickers, stars and to rate food, among other features. We learned that providing choices resonated with parents of children with autism and food sensitivity issues. The app fell short in that is lacked customization. Parents also expressed a need for less adventurous foods and more of an exploration of every day and very basic foods that could be within or outside a child's comfort zone.


The response for the need of an app that would help ease the anxiety and stress related to trying new foods inspired us to develop a concept for Choose My Food.

We are seeking funding to develop Choose My Food through Appbckr.http://bit.ly/xvpN5E

We've also started a forum where parents can vote on app features and/or offer suggestions. http://bit.ly/xagb1S


We'd love to hear from you. Please share this with anyone that you think would like to back this app or provide feedback for development.

Vote on the App features you want to see on Choose My Food by visiting the Choose My Food Forum.

Choose My Food is not yet available for sale in the App Store. :( BUT, you can help make that happen by backing this great new App on Appbckr. You can also get more info on this new App, including screen shots of the prototype, by visiting the Choose My Food Appbcker project site. I will keep you all posted of the progress of this App and will share a review as soon as I get my hands on the first release :)

Start your own discussion, ask a question, or share an idea on SNEAK Freestyle :)

What technology do you use to help kids with sensory feeding difficulties?



How do I use a switch with an iPad? | The Spectronics Blog

A GREAT post on switch accessibility on the iPad by Spectromics! This post walks you through the steps and offers a switch accessible App list. Thanks Jane and Spectronics!

How do I use a switch with an iPad? | The Spectronics Blog


Webinars on iPad for Special Needs Topics

Closing the Gap is hosting some great, low cost Webinars on a variety of topics related to using the iPad with children who have special needs. Check out the webinar list on their site!
And don't miss this year's Closing the Gap Conference, a wonderful place for learning and networking for parents and professionals who support children and adults with disability. The conference is in Minneapolis in October, check out http://www.closingthegap.com/ for more info!

The SoundBender Amplifies iPad for AAC

The Soundbender
I just came across this great review on AppAdvice about The Soundbender (by Simply Amazinc), a simple iPad accessory that amplifies the sound from your iPad by redirecting the sound waves toward you (rather than to the back, which is how the iPad speaker is currently set-up).  I really think this has amazing applications for kids (and adults) who use the iPad as an AAC device.  Compared to using external speakers to address limitations in amplification, the Soundbender is smaller, lighter-weight, does not require a power source, and fits on the iPad with a protective case in place secondary to its magnetic properties.  Check out a review of Soundbender on AppAdvice, and visit Kickstarter to learn more about the product and its designer, a teacher and Rabbi working in Minnesota. Kickstarter also has a video of the Soundbender in action.  Currently, the only way to obtain a Soundbender is to become a “backer” of this new, grass-roots product by visiting their project site on Kickstarter.   Once the project receives enough funding (i.e., enough “backers” pledging money), Simply Amazinc can begin larger scale production of the Soundbender and it will become available commercially.  Mine is on the way for a simple pledge of $20! Can’t wait to receive it and start using it-I’ll keep you posted! J

The Soundbender on the iPad 2
What solutions are you using to solve this iPad sound dilemma? 


New App for Language: What's in the Bag?

I was browsing the App Store for some tools to work on questions with some of my older kids on the Autism Spectrum.  I came across "What's in the Bag?" and downloaded it because of its incredibly detailed App store description of all of the ways in which I could use the App to work on a variety of language goals (very nice marketing strategy). I normally DO NOT buy Apps that don't have a Lite version because I find that I'm most often disappointed rather than surprised.  I'm afraid this is one of those times.  :(. But, despite my disappointment, I think this App has some good potential.  
In essence, What's in the Bag? is the game of 20 questions  in visual form.  The basic idea is that a "hider" player chooses one of the 120 pictures included in the app and then "hides" it behind a digital brown paper bag.  The other player(s) ask questions of the hider to try and guess what is behind the bag.  There are seven question marks on the screen that offer cues for different questions the players could ask to gain information about the hidden item.  When the questions are completed and a guess is given, or someone gives up, you pinch the iPad paper bag image to reveal the hidden picture.
Bag Game - all4mychild

Things I Love About What's in the Bag?:
It is visually simple and easy to navigate, making it an appropriate App for school-aged children working on communication goals.
It provides a nice variety of clear clipart in a few basic vocabulary categories.
It encourages group play rather than individual play on a motivating platform (the iPad)

My Wishlist for What's in the Bag?:
It has no sound and no animation!  How boring for these kids. :(. Most kids are really looking for that visual and auditory feedback to help them along with the task and to reward them for their participation along the way.  Sure, I will give this as the facilitator, but they don't want to hear from only me. :)
I would  love to be able to integrate pictures from my camera roll into this App as items that can be hidden.  This would allow for inclusion of a lot more word categories and potential descriptors that the "guessers" can use.
I would love to be able to record voice (or have the app embed voice) over the question clues (I.e., the question marks on the screen to give ideas to guessers).This would help kids who cannot read, or who do not comprehend what they read without  auditory support, use this App feature more successfully.

I have plans to give this one a try with a few of my kids this week.  Stay tubed for the moment of truth! :)

Bag Game - all4mychild and support SNEAK outside the box!


Sensory Pods for Kids with Visual Impairment

 A great pin on Pinterest shared by my amazing friend and colleague, Gabi!  Thanks, Gabi!  

These cool little pods might be low tech, but they have awesome potential to enhance sensory processing in children with visual impairment!




Hands-Free Solutions for iPad? Yes, Please!

The iPad is a WONDERFUL tool! For play, for learning, for therapy, for communication, you name it!  But is anyone else thinking what I'm thinking sometimes? "Oh great! Another THING to  literally JUGGLE with all of the other THINGS in my therapy session/classroom activity/daily routine! Sure, it's light, it's small, but I need to be an octopus to balance the kid, the visual supports for behavior, the toy, the tactile prompting, and the iPad all at once!  And how about the issue of joint attention and focus?  I want my kids looking at me, in my direction, and interacting with me- not turning this way and that doing a juggling act of their own.  so I was thinking the other day, why can't I just stick the iPad to my chest, that wY, I can have both of my hands free and increase focus to my direction rather than the table top.  I was pretty sure this could be accomplished DIY style with a simple cooking apron and some Velcro.  But I thought I would check out some ready-made solutions just to see what was out there.  What I found made me chuckle, but it also revealed some potentially feasible products to address this "hands-free" concept.

Defender by Assero Industries is a carrying case and hands-free, no-table-needed chest harness that is designed to hang (as shown in picture) so that you can use the iPad facing towards you, in horizontal mode, and laying flat.  This might be appropriate for children (and adults) who are ambulatory and use the iPad on the go as a communication device.  It isn't clear from the website if this would adjust to fit small kids, but it certainly has potential.  I also wonder if you could use it in conjunction with a stand that sets the iPad upright.  If so, a therapist, educator, or parent could wear the harness with the iPad on the stand and facing outward so that the child could access it on the facilitator and the iPad could also be accessed from behind by the facilitator.  Far fetched idea, right? But it might work :) Check out a review of Defender on GeekwithLaptop

iPad Jacket by Alphynin is a polar tech jacket with a secret iPad pocket in the front that zips up to store the iPad and then unzips and lowers as a platform to use the iPad hands free (as pictured above). It works similar to the Defender (above) and might have similar potential uses for AAC users on the go who are ambulatory, and for facilitators (given the right stand to position the iPad upright).  I liked this option (hypothetically, of course :) because you can stow the iPad when you aren't using it.  It might be a bit too toasty for using indoors though, and I can't see fleece being functional (or bearable!) in warm climates.   Check out a review of iPad Jacket on Geekosystem.
GoPad from GoPad is a more simplistic version of the two above. I don't think this one would work for a facilitator.  Check out a review of GoPad on Gizmag

iPad Style Shirt by Style Shirt is my favorite potential solution fir the problem outlined at the beginning of this post.  It is a simple t-shirt with a clear pocket in the front that still allows you to interact with the touch screen.  I imagine you could buy one big enough to simply slip over what you're wearing, but not too big that it affects the placement of the iPad on your body.  I may have to get one of these to try for myself. :) Check out a review of iPad Style Shirt on enGadget

And don't forget the DIY Way! :)
Get a cooking apron or communication apron, attach some heavy duty Velcro to the apron and the opposite side to the back of the iPad, and just stick it on!


New High-Contrast Picture Symbols for Boardmaker: A Great Tool for Children with CVI

Mayer-Johnson recently released an addendum library for the Boardmaker software family that uses high-contrast to make picture communication symbols (PCS) more accessible to children with cortical visual impairment (CVI) and other visual impairments.  Prior to the release of this addendum, many of us had to edit each symbol  by hand in the Boardmaker editing tool to change the color combinations and other symbol features so that they were more appropriate for kids with complex visual needs.  This great edition to the extensive PCS library in Boardmaker is sure to be a time saver for many parents and professionals who support kids with CVI.  

From Mayer-Johnson:

Working in conjunction with Linda Burkhart and Gayle Porter, the creator of PODD (Pragmatic Organization Dynamic Display), Mayer-Johnson has created a powerful library of high contrast symbols for individuals with low vision and visual impairment. PCS™ Classic: High Contrast offers a core library of over 1450 symbols that are drawn with bright colors and minimal detail. These symbols are easier to see than standard symbols and offer a range of vocabulary topics to enable individuals with low vision or visual impairment to participate in a variety of communication settings. PCS™ Classic: High Contrast includes symbols for food, clothing, games, community, school, social interaction and much more.
For more information on using visual supports to adapt learning and communication for children with visual impairment, check out Linda Burkhart's site.  If you support a child with significant visual impairment and are not working with a vision therapist, find one in your area here.  
Do you have visual supports that you find helpful for children with CVI/visual impairment?  Share them with us!


Tap-n-See Zoo: App for Children with CVI

Get this App in the App Store!
Many apps that are currently on the market for kids are way too visually complex for many children with special needs, especially those children with visual impairment. The folks at Little Bear Sees have recognized this and have created a great cause-effect app for children with CVI and other visual impairments!  It is wonderful to see these supportive parents turned App developers pioneer this technology in the direction of low vision and CVI!  

Tap-n-See Zoo  is a simple but delightful app that offers great potential for children with significant visual challenges to interact with the iPad in a supported, yet motivating way.   In a nutshell, the app presents a series of bold- line, animal pictures in a variety of solid colors on a contrasting background.  The animals are presented one at a time and float around the screen to draw the child's visual attention.  When the animal is touched, it "grows" in size for visual emphasis! and a "reward sound" is played to provide the child with feedback.  The screen then presents another animal for the child to interact with in the same manner.  Many features of this app can be modified in the settings, including randomizing colors, animals, and sounds, and changing the size of the animal and the speed that it moves around the screen.  You can also turn sound off for those children who struggle with processing both sensory stimuli at once.  

Things I Love About Tap-n-See Zoo:
  • Smart, simple design that is great for children at the early stages of learning (e.g., cause effect).
  • The ability to customize the appearance of the app to suit each child's needs?
  • High-contrast colors with bold animal pictures that stand out from the background and are appealing to children.
My Wishlist for Tap-n-See Zoo:

  • More vocabulary to provide language learning opportunities.  This app only has 5 animals to choose from. I would love to see updates that expand on this vocabulary to include other animals and other categories, such as common objects, foods, and even basic concepts, like shapes, colors, numbers, and letters.  Being ale to select which of these pictures/words to target could be part of the settings, that way users can keep the language on the level that the child is able to manage.
  • Sound rewards that emphasize meaning and associative leaning.  I like the sounds provided in the app (whistle, laughing, and applause) as far as "rewards" but I wish that the sound was related to the image to encourage cognitive mapping for these kids (e.g., the bear is paired with a bear sound or the word "bear" and a bear sound".
  • A variety of movement patterns that can be customized in the settings.  It would be great if images could move in different ways other than just floating (e.g., wiggling, spinning, growing and shrinking, etc...). I think this option is helpful for children with different visual needs and also to promote variety and, therefore, continued interest in the game.  I would love the images to pause in the middle of the screen sometimes as well, since moving targets are often difficult for kids with CVI and other visual challenges to hit, regardless of how slow they move.  
 Tap-n-See Zoo is
 Tap-n-See Zoo - Little Bear Sees

What do you think of Tap-n-See Zoo?


SNEAK's Top 5 Web Resources for Teaching Language to Kids Who Use AAC

I often encounter colleagues and parents who find themselves stuck at many levels of the AAC and language continuum.  For some of us who support kids who use AAC, getting tangled in the technology can often leave us feeling confused and overwhelmed (Imagine how our kids feel!)  In my own quest for a life raft in this sometimes daunting task, I have found some wonderful resources to support the process of teaching language to children who use AAC! as well as those responsible for teaching them!  Here are my fav 5 web resources for AAC implementation strategies:


1.  AAC Language Lab is a site operated by Prentke-Romich Company, an AAC device manufacturer.  Even though the resources on this site are designed to be used with PRC's Unity software on their devices, the activities and resources here can be used to teach core vocabulary to kids who use any device or low-tech system.  Access to all info and teaching resources on this site is completely free!  I use the plans and handouts on this site daily with my kids and families and all of the information is clearly illustrated, in parent-friendly language, making AAC Language Lab an awesome resource for therapy sessions and carryover across daily routines. 

2.  PrAACtical AAC  is an amazing blog and web resource with frequent posts on language building strategies to support AAc users at a variety of levels.  PrAACtical AAC also has an AAC e-Toolbox with tons of implementation techniques, handouts, articles, and videos.  There is a wealth of other valuable information on this site and it is updated frequently with PrAACtical tips :). 

3.  Dynavox Implementation Toolkit  is a site by Dynavox Techno,ogies, another AAC device manufacturer.  This site is intended for use with Dunavox's InterAACt software on their devices.  However, much like the AAC Language Lab by PRC, the principles outlined in this extensive toolkit can be used with other devices and low-tech systems.  I especially like this resource because it has a range of information that varies in detail, making it a great source for pros, teachers, And parents.  You have to create an account to use the toolkit but it is quick, easy, and free to do so.  :)

4.  AAC Intervention provides a Tip of the Month on implementing ASC and archives all other tips for reference.  Eavh tip focuses on a different topic in ASC implementation and most include detailed handouts on what the strategy is, how to use it, and why.  The site is free for all resources and is updated somewhat frequently.  

5.  YAACK: Connecting Young Kids has a wealth of information on  the span of AAC, from defining through assessment, and also has some great, basic information on teaching AAC and building communicative competence in AAC users.  This isn't a site that is updated frequently as it is a compilation of information by Ruth Ballinger, completed for fulfillment of her Masters in Special Education.  BUT, it is an essential reference for anyone supporting an AAC user, especially those who are a little shaky on the subject of AAC.  

Have an AAC site or other resoirce that you depend on for guidance?