They Were the Best of Apps, They Were the Worst of Apps

The doc’s been gone for a while. She had a crisis of tech. Not giving up on it, mind you, just not knowing what to say about the three, count ’em three iPads in use in her home. One iPad, the one I call my own but that really belongs to the university I work for, is up-to-there with apps and I can’t actually upgrade to iOS7 unless some serious purging happens — which it won’t because I’m an app hoarder. Nic’s 1st generation cracked iPad, well…but that cute little Mini, the one he’s using in the community, the one with Snipbase and VisTimer, apps that have really made things happen for him…well, they didn’t like the new operating system.
Hey Snipbase and VisTimer, send help!


PS This is a random picture of my dear children.


“Not Proficiency in Use, but Potential for Growth”


Those were the words of the tech person in our district, after I brought to the team that it was time to take the leap and purchase an iPad mini for Nic, with Proloquo2go and some spiffy transition apps. These words of she-who-knows-her-tech were a bit of a rallying cry, I think. It’s not about whether Nic or any child is “ready” or “worthy” or whatever — it”s about having a support to grow with and grow from. If we think that a child needs to be “ready” to have a voice, there is something very wrong with our thinking.

Don’t ya think?

Perhaps we have this backwards…


There’s a lot of energy right now around seeing if Nic can work with Proloquo2go on the iPad. It has not so far been easy or intuitive, so the team continues to wonder and experiment before making further commitments.
But wait, he’s fifteen. He needs an augmentative system. He loves and works well on the iPad. The iPad Mini is small enough to travel well, but not so small as to be hard to see.
What exactly are we waiting for?
Have you been there? Did you push?

Shamed back to blogging.



The Delaware County Down Syndrome Interest Group has my blog as a hyperlink on their website — how cool! Have I written anything lately — no. How not cool.

Dr. Mom still loves her iPads. And she has some stuff goin’ on too. Nic is being evaluated again for a communication device, this time in the form of an app. We’re working with ProloQuo2go, which is apparently the Mercedes-Benz of communication apps. But how do you get a kid to use said app when he’d so much rather talk?

We’re also now gluten-free and lactose free. The good news is that there are apps out there to help with keeping sane when everything tasty is now dangerous. We’re simply loving Safari to get us to the Betty Crocker website and finding a million ways to miss real bread a little less. Then a stop at Gluten-Free Registry and Dine Gluten Free apps to see where there is to eat out — and if they really are sincerely gluten free or is it just “we will hide the bun” on your burger.

Is it a different blog now? No. My iPads just have more work to do.

How about you? What’s your kid using to communicate with the world? What do YOU do when your child would simply rather speak — but no one quite understands what he’s saying?

And when he does speak is your kid begging for a real hamburger bun like Nic?


I’m a Video Model!

    I love Carol Grey’s “Social Stories” — both for Nic when he was a little guy (we explained moving to a new house and potty training —  not in the same story, of course) as well as teaching my students how to create and use them with their students o’ the future.
    Lately, I’ve been learning about Video Modeling as another strategy for helping kids better understand new or challenging situations. 
    The National Professional Development Center on Autism Spectrum Disorders defines Video Modeling as follows:

    Video modeling is a mode of teaching that uses video recording and display equipment to provide a visual model of the targeted behavior or skill. Types of video modeling include basic video modeling, video self-modeling, point-of-view video modeling, and video prompting. Basic video modeling involves recording someone besides the learner engaging in the target behavior or skill (i.e., models). The video is then viewed by the learner at a later time. Video self-modeling is used to record the learner displaying the target skill or behavior and is reviewed later. Point-of-view video modeling is when the target behavior or skill is recorded from the perspective of the learner. Video prompting involves breaking the behavior skill into steps and recording each step with incorporated pauses during which the learner may attempt the step before viewing subsequent steps. Video prompting may be done with either the learner or someone else acting as a model.

    So I’m off to try this. Nic does love a video, especially if he’s in it. I’m experimenting with an app — My Pictures Talk…

    And my students have access to 20 iPads…

    Anyone else using their iPad for Video Modeling???

Is There Life after Your Kid Drops his iPad?

The bad news is that it seems that no amount of padding and casing is going to stop an iPad from taking a beating when the time to take a beating comes.

Nic was running to the car, his iPad in hand.

He tripped.

The boy and his iPad went flying.

Nic dusted himself off and went to pick it up.

Giant crack.

But go figure, the thing still works. Went to “Five Below” and bought a film to put over the screen to protect fingers from cracked glass. That was it.

And Mom is back in search of ideas to make the iPad the tool I want it to be for NIc.

Right now, I’m in search of an app to let me store little videos I make. Like social stories, only video. Nic has a first generation iPad and mine is an iPad2. I have a digital camera and a cell phone to make videos on too.

Any ideas?



One of my grad students told me about something called Pinterest ,  an online “pinboard” that she thinks is the coolest thing ever. I took a quick look and saw what looked to be a place for people to manage collections of images. Nice. There’s an app for it, too, but I wasn’t seeing much past the idea of images.

But there’s more, and I’m gonna make sure I take a look. I follow the Friendship Circle blog, and today’s post talked about collections of resources, blogs, therapy tips, strategies for teaching chores and more on Pinterest — NICE.

Guess Pinterest is pretty popular…I am on their waiting list! So in the meantime, do you or anyone you know use Pinterest? Why, how? Give me something to read about while I wait for my “invitation” to join!

For a Moment, I was Tekkier than a Teenager!

My daughter Courtney is my go-to-girl, my at-home tech support, and it’s just one more thing I love about her. But yesterday as we were driving in the car, I asked her a question she could not answer.

The question was, “do you know what a Dropbox is?”

And I got to tell HER — Dropbox is a miracle!

Special thanks to Rosie P. for introducing me to, where I downloaded a Dropbox app for my iPad and Dropbox for my work and home computers. When I put my stuff — all those files and such that I don’t want to lose — into my Dropbox, I can pull them up wherever there’s a Dropbox! I log in on the iPad or on the computers and everything I’ve stored from all my locations is there!

Oh, Joy!

Of course, that’s probably the only tech question Courtney won’t have an answer to for the rest of my life.

Which is just fine.

Hey, School District, My Kid Needs an iPad!

For those of us still struggling with  rationale for the school district purchase of an iPad for a child with a disability, know that the struggle is real.

School districts don’t always immediately wrap their minds around iPad technology because it has so much else going on (Angry Birds, anyone?). The purchase of this relatively inexpensive (next to almost any augmentative communication device, anyway) becomes problematic.

Found “Six Steps to Get the iPad into Your Child’s Special Needs Classroom on, in the technology section:

1.Make sure your child qualifies

There is no point in making a stink if your child won’t qualify for an AAC Communication Device.  If your child does not qualify for an AAC Device there is no way a school will provide an iPad.

The iPad is much more than an assistive communication device and is a great tool for children that are verbal as well (For example Life Skills & Social skills apps for kids with Asperger’s etc). Unfortunately most school districts will only contemplate  an iPad for communication purposes and nothing more.

2. Make sure your child can use the iPad

The iPad may not be suitable for Children who have difficulty with fine motor skills. You must make sure your child can hold his or her hand steady long enough to tap and scroll the screen.  On a cognitive level your child also must be able to differentiate between different pictures.

3. Know why your school doesn’t like iPads

Before you make the case for an iPad find out why your school isn’t into it. Knowing why your school won’t provide one will help you prepare your case for getting one. Some of the more common reasons are:

  • The iPad includes Non- Educational Elements
    Schools want to make sure that they are providing  materials that will be used to its fullest potential. Knowing that the iPad could be used for movies and games makes them cringe.
  • Stimming
    A claim is made that kids start stimming while using the iPad. Instead of going from one step to the next the child will start repetitively tapping the same picture or sound.
  • Change
    It takes bureaucracies a long time to make changes and schools can be no different.  Instead of being innovative and forward thinking you may have a school that wants to keep the status quo and not make changes to what is already in place

4. Explain why you need an iPad over other AAC Devices

Prepare a list of pros for iPad and cons for the regular communication devices  Some ideas to inlcude:

Why the standard AAC Device does not work for my child
A. It is hard to program
B. It is bulky and heavy
C. Makes my child stick out and look different
D. A battery charge only lasts a few hours

Why an iPad will work for my child
A. The iPad provides the most sophisticated and up to date communication applications
B. Very intuitive display and layout, making it easy for a child with special needs to use (and makes it easier for their parents to program)
C. Extremely light and easy to transport
D. Battery last 10 hours

5. Speak Out

A. Start with your child’s teacher.  Explain to the teacher why you feel your child needs an iPad. Make sure you are not confrontational. Advocate for your child in a calm and respectful manner.

B. If your teacher is unwilling or unable to help take it to the next level ask to speak to the person who coordinates augmentative communication in your district. If that doesn’t help go up the ladder to the Superintendent of Special Education.

C. If you are still finding the going tough ask other parents in similar situations (parents with a child who goes to the same school and needs an AAC device to help communicate) to work together to change the schools mind. The voice of one may be ignored but an outcry from many parents will not be drowned out.

D. Bring in outside advocates who will stand by your side and will help request, cajole and maybe even threaten legal proceedings. A professional advocate knows how to talk the school’s language and can cut through the red tape.

6. Be Informed- Resources to back up your claims

To further prove your point show them that schools all over the country are starting to implement iPads in special education classrooms. Here are some links to articles and videos about schools all around the country using iPads in the Classroom.

When Things Go Wrong, As They Sometimes Will…

It took 2 hours to get my iPad updated to iOS5, and 2 more hours to get Nic’s updated last Friday. It took about 5 unsuccessful attempts each before that, and no small amount of swearing. Both my work and home computers would dismissively tell me that they’d “timed out.” Guess they needed a break from all that work. Guess they were bored from updating taking so long.

Thank heaven for people who know more than me coming to my rescue, specifically my peeps David and Rosie.

Things I learned:

  1. Don’t update iTunes with the iPad plugged into the computer (this is obvious to most people)
  2. Turn off the virus protection and firewall
  3. Remember to turn the virus and firewall back on when you’re done
  4. iCloud is a godsend.
    1. After updating my work iPad to iOS5, I lost “Teacher Pal.” Gone, just gone. Not on the iPad screen, not in iTunes. All that information and all those photos, my substitute short-term memory, gone. But I know people. My peep Rosie told me to go back to the app store and look for the apps I’d installed. The “TeacherPal” app had a little cloud beside it. When I clicked on it, “Teacher Pal” fell from the cloud – or something like that.

What is iCloud, anyway?