Sunday, March 17, 2013

IEP Consideration & Assistive Technology

IEP, Individual Education Plan, consideration is the process in which the IEP team members use information analysis to determine student needs for assistive technology (AT). The team members use a student centered, task-focused, and environmentally relevant process to consider a students need for assistive technology. 

Below is a list of questions that can be asked when determining what AT device would best support the  individual or child:

  • What does your child need to do but is unable to do because of his/her disability?
  • What are your child’s customary environments? 
  • What are your child’s biggest educational challenges
  • What assistive technology tools are available to help your child overcome these challenges? 
  • What criteria will be used to later determine if the AT has been successful in helping your child in his/her educational program?
  • What are your child’s preferences in areas such as color and style? 
  • What are the specific features of the AT device that can help your child?
  • How long will this device or program remain a suitable AT device for your child?
  • What tools or devices are readily available from the school, the district, or a loan library?
  • Who will need to be trained to ensure that your child gets the maximum benefit from the AT device?

Form Used:

AT IEP Considerations (Source that provides AT solutions that can be considered for students with disabilities with a focus on area of need not disability.) 

IEP's Present Level and Annual Goal with AT Suggestions

Example 1:
Present Level of Academic Achievement and Functional Performance: Johnny uses his right hand to write and to physically position his left arm and hand. He has difficulty managing papers as he writes. He collects and utilizes a lap tray, incline board, non-slip mat and modified clipboard but often waits for staff to set up modifications.

Annual Goal: Johnny will initiate the set-up of his writing station 80% of the time given a chart of needed materials for each task.

Example 2:
Present Level of Academic Achievement and Functional Performance: Eric participates in regular education programs for his academic subjects. His hand strength is limited and he fatigues quickly when doing any handwriting task. Civics and English homework are a particular problem because of lengthy assignments and reports that need to be completed.

Annual Goal: Eric will use a computer or portable word processor to complete 100% of his assignments in 10th grade English and Civics classes.

Example 3:
Present Level of Academic Achievement and Functional Performance: Becky is learning to read and is anxious to complete writing assignments with her peers. She is not able to produce handwritten material due to severe spastic quadriplegia. Becky is interested in using the computer and has been introduced to it. The staff has helped Becky experiment with several switches in a variety of locations. She seems to be most accurate using a switch mounted next to her head.

Annual Goal: Becky will use a single switch mounted on a switch-mounting arm positioned to the right side of her head and scanning software 

Example 4:
Present Level of Academic Achievement and Functional Performance: Brandon communicates by using unintelligible vocalizations. He will physically obtain desired items independently and indicates refusal by pushing objects/people away. Brandon currently understands cause/effect relationships and will activate a switch with voice output to obtain a desired activity. It is questionable whether he understands the specific meaning of the utterance he has produced or if he simply knows that pressing the switch earns him an activity.

Annual Goal: Brandon will select activities and interact with peers/adults within those activities four out of five times when provided with voice output devices.

Example 5:
Present Level of Academic Achievement and Functional Performance: Kelly is in the third grade classroom for most of his day. He has a full time paraprofessional who assists him. He is unable to use a standard keyboard because of his physical limitations. Additionally, his speech is frequently unintelligible. He currently uses single message and multiple message voice output devices, eye gaze, and limited direct selection to complete his academic work. Kelly is functioning at about the second grade level in most curricular areas.
Annual Goal: Kelly will use an adapted keyboard with custom overlays and a computer with talking word processing to complete all academic work.

Gierach, Jill. "Contact Us." : Wisconsin Assistive Technology Initiative. N.p., Feb. 2009. Web. 17 Mar. 2013.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

iPad Apps for Autistic and Nonverbal Children

iPad Applications for Autistic and Nonverbal Children 

Using as an iPad as a means of communication and or learning tool is making strides for  autistic and nonverbal children. Through this video different platform games, educational applications, and accessories are highlighted by Speaker Lauren Meatty. Lauren Meatty is a Regional Consultation Programer at the Schwartz Center for Children Physical Development Clinic in North Dartmouth Massachusetts. 
 In the beginning of the video Meatty talks about a two year old girl who suffers from Spastic Quadriplegia and as a result usually has closed fists. Upon receiving and being introduced to the iPad she began to open her fists and just her finger to navigate and play on the piano application on the iPad.  Lauren states that some kids who refuse to engage with other devices fall deeply into the iPad and the services they have to offer. She shares the story of another middle school child who had difficulty communicating and because of a large communication box that was laid int he center of the room she stood out and felt embarrassed in front of the other kids. When she started using the iPad the other student wanted to immediately surround her and she began to feel like the cool kid in school. 
Over all Lauren Meatty's lecture was about using iPads and their applications with students. While she finds iPads and applications to be a key component of a child's educations and tools/devices used it is imperative to remember to maintain social interaction and hands on manipulative when possible as this is still important as part of the well rounded education. 

I find iPads to be a great device that can be used in a classroom with students of all abilities but especially with students with special needs. These devices provide students with applications that can allow them to better communicate and be contributing individuals in the classroom and environment. While this can be an expensive endeavor to acquire the iPads alone they can make the worlds of difference amongst the students. The touch screen, keyboard, and thousands of applications provide support in a variety of ways to students with all strengths and weaknesses. 

Applications Lauren Meatty Discusses:
  1. Duck Duck Moose: Use touchscreen to interact wit early childhood songs 
  2. Going Places: Social stories to teach about social interactions, such as getting your first haircut
  3. Yes, No: Use for choices (i.e. milk or juice) can use pictures instead of words
  4. Speak It: Type words, and the app will speak what you typed
  5. Proloquo2Go: customizable for communication, can change the kind of voice, and can program your own voice.
  6. Vocal Zoo: Teaches about animals and sounds
  7. Doodle Buddy: Write free form letters and create pictures with stamps
  8. Elmo's Monster Maker: Teaches about body parts
  9. Maze: Move iPad to make ball hit the numbers
  10. Matching- Match pictures
  11. Angry Birds and Cut the Rope: Teach finger isolation and physics
  12. Toy Story- Read words, look at pictures, then swipe finger to turn the page

iPads and Students with Communication Disorders

Autism, iPad, & Ean

This video is about a young boy who uses an iPad to help communicate vocabulary he is learning and working on. In this video we see as Ean looks at a picture of an item and is them directed to type the name of the picture on his iPad. While verbal and physical assistance is provided to get Ean to complete this fast he is able to correctly type, on the iPad, each picture he is shown. It is remarkable that while it is evident that Ean is non-verbal he still understands what the picture is and can use his fingers to type the name onto a text-to-speech software to use his voice. This video only shows the use of an iPad to communicate singular words but you can see how helpful this can be in communicating just simple demands and needs. 

Jake, 7-yr-old Autistic Boy, Uses iPad App iWriteWords

The application that Jake is using is a writing assistance application that helps the child learn and practice how to write a letter by using their finger to trace on the iPad. In addition to tracing letters, the individual letters lead up to creating words. This application recites each letter after the child traces it and recites the words once all letters are traced. This is a great app for a child to use independently to enhance their skills in writing and recognizing the different letters. While this may not directly help with holding a pencil and writing on paper it is important for the child to know what strokes to make and when to write a letter. 

App Gives Autistic Children A Voice

This is a news story about a young boy who was finally able to communicate through the use of an iPad application. His mother described her feelings not knowing if her son would understand the questions she would ask him and was amazed at what she saw. Katie Linendoll, a Tech Expert, discusses the dramatic changes that have been seen since the introduction of the iPad in the world of communication for those with communication disorders. She specifically shares the app, Proloquo2Go, that with over 14,000 images and symbols in its built-in library it can aid in the communication of these children and other individuals in their surroundings. Children can either use one image or symbol to express a feeling or need, or they can string together multiple images/symbols to create complete sentences. This is said to be a very user friendly application that has been proven to make a difference as we saw in the little boy from the beginnings life. 

The Conversation: iPad Gives Voice to The Autistic

 Proloquo2Go, in laying meaning "speak out loud" describes exactly what this app accomplishes. In this video the co-creater of the application discusses how to use the application, why he chose to create this application, and what changes have been made for non-verbal children since the creation of the application. He shares that the driving point for creating this application was knowing how expensive communication devices can be and want this to be easily accessible to children around the world. He knows how important it is to communicate and wants everyone, children involved, to be able to share their wants and needs. 

Studying Autism and iPads

In this 60 Minute Interview Rhonda McEwen, a Canadian Professor, discusses her studies on the use of iPads by children with autism. McEwen shares that the progress may take time but learning to "play with language" is the first step to communicating and using the different applications provided for the iPad. 

After watching the different videos and interviews I have gained a much better understanding of the use and success of using iPads with individuals who have communication disorders. Watching the interaction of the children while using the iPad and what improvements have been seen, some more drastic than others, is astounding. It was interesting however to hear what Rhonda McEwen had to say in the 60 Minute interview. I had never taken the time to consider the period of time in which a child receives the iPad and when they start communicating. I guess I figured this happened automatically? That children would start with minimal communications and build up over time? It was fascinating to hear about this period of time in which the children are "playing with language" and adjusting to using the device. At first, after watching a few of the videos, I thought how many videos can a person watch on iPads and Communication disorders. But I soon realized that each video has a different message, a different learning point, another opportunity to grow and learn. 

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Autistic Girl Expresses Profound Intelligence

"You don't know what it feels like to be me, when you can't sit still because your legs feel like they are on fire, or it feels like a hundred ants are crawling on your arms. People look at means assume I am dumb, because I can't talk. It's hard to be autistic because no one understands me. What do I want? I want to be like every other kid. But I can't. Because I am Carly." (Carly) 

This video tells the remarkable story of a teenage girl who suffers from severe autism and was written off as mentally deficient. Born as a twin, Carly was a healthy happy baby girl. Then around her second birthday her parents and doctors noticed she was not meeting milestones and immediately started with early intervention. It was not soon after that the characteristics of severe autism and mental retardation became more apparent. Carly's twin sister was reaching and surpassing age appropriate milestones while Carly was told by doctors she would be lucky to reach the capacity of a six year old. However her parents were determined to give it their all to fight for Carly and her success. With the help of support services, early intervention, and different therapists Carly began to grow but was still not meeting milestones and was thought of as being in her own world un aware of what was going on right around her. Little did her parents, doctors, and support team know what doors would be opened with one device, a computer. Through the use of computers, word processing, and text-to-speech software Carly was soon able to talk and converse with the world around her. Not only was she responding to simple questions, but was using vocabulary that surpassed any expectations. This device allowed Carly to grow, and use the inner voice she always had but had no output to use. 
While I have never had any personal experiences that mimic this of Carly, her family, and friends, as a teacher this is unbelievable and something I hope all of my current and future students can achieve. Some children may not be able to verbalize their wants and needs but it is imperative to remember that this does not mean they are not able to communicate their wants and needs. Through this module we have research, discussed, and analyzed different forms of Assistive Technology that enhance children's lives and those around them every day. This is just another story of how a simple AT, text-to-speech software, and a computer, and make the worlds of difference in one family. As Special Education teachers it is our job to ensure we provide all services and supports possible to give every child the opportunity to grow, communicate, set goals, and achieve them. In the end of this video Carly said something that I think wraps up this idea in the best way possible. "I think the only thing I can say is don't give up. You're inner voice will find its way out. Mine did."(Carly) 

Assistive Technology Tutorial

Voice4u – AAC App for Autism, Stroke Victims, ALS on iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, and Android

Voice4u is an augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) application that helps individuals to express their feelings, thoughts, actions, and needs. Users can create an unlimited variety of icons, with their own pictures and voice, to aid in their communication with others. This application can be used on Apple Products, Google Play, Android, and the Nook to allow use in schools, home, and our community.
Voice4u is devised for any individual with a communication impairment such as autism, traumatic brain injury, and stroke patients. This app not only allows the individuals with the communication impairment to communicate but those around them.
How Does Voice4u Work?

Voice4u Basic Usage Tutorial

Voice4u Reflection
When I began researching communication apps that could be used by students, their families, peers, and teachers, I came across a variety of options. After sifting through I felt as though this was a great option that could be offered. While reading the tutorial and other manuals online I found this application to be extremely user friendly for non-verbal students or those with limited speech. Being able to personalize the icons pictures, and voices allow this application to be made personal to the child using it being able to become familiar with family members, photos, and sounds in their environment. Additional the colors and fonts provide the visual component that most students yearn for. This application can be a great tool to help students, with speech impairments, to be more independent which is important for many students to being successful and achieving many of their goals and milestones set. One of the downfalls I found with this application is the price, $49.99. For many people this can be expensive and out of reach. If at all possible to acquire this app I think it would be a great tool for students and individuals to use.