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Saturday, February 27, 2010

Different NOT Less


I have been thinking about this lately. It's been less in my face because Ellie is in a GREAT school and we are surrounded by people who are in the special needs community. We are lucky for all of this. But I think sometimes about how we will immerse ourselves in life even more. We are still somewhat isolated outside of school. It's much better since school, but still. One of the keys to our freedom (freedom being defined by me as access to community and all it has to offer) is Assistive Technology. We received a grant from the Gasperini Fund for some Assistive Technology but have not spent it yet because we are not sure what to buy.

It's hard because Ellie has motor disability. Her fine motor, is ok, very ok in that she can use her hands at all. She can operate her toys and her Weemote. She is having some success using my iPhone to swipe through pictures. The "tap" the screen part is more difficult, but I have not set my own phone to the accessibility settings yet. I am overwhelmed by all of this sometimes and frustrated. There is a huge smart board at Ellie's school - but she only gets to use it an hour per week. What I love about the iPhone is that we can instantly take pictures or videos of people and things that are meaningful to Ellie and use them to communicate and play.

Yesterday, Claire, left a comment on this post telling me about this app for the iPhone/iPod.


Thanks to Yumi for inventing it. It is always disgusting to me and outright wrong how much the companies who make "assistive tech" charge. I have heard the argument that they have to charge more because there is such low demand. I think that argument is a lie. To have to pay $65 for one switch that probably costs the company $1.50 to make is price gauging at its worst. I appreciate the high tech environment and the freeware movement especially.

The problem in our life is NOT that Ellie has a disability, it's the lack of access. It truly is. A very smart Professor at the school I am working at now has termed this the "Social Model" of Disability.

Thank you Claire!! You have reminded me how much I love my blog readers and other bloggers and the access to the world of parents in my same situation struggling to figure out the same problems.

I am going to upload it and give it a try. Why, oh why does the iPod NOT have a cameral and video? I will hate it if the answer is pure marketing that has to do with ATT and not making a profit if people buy such an iPod instead of the iPhone and it's network.

Still the need to have to "tap" is a problem for Ellie. But for $29.99 I am ok with giving it a try and being Ellie's "remote" to help her do it. I am looking forward to the day when Ellie, using voice output or some other means can more easily tell me what's on her mind. She has been expressing herself so much more in the last 6 months. It's incredible and one of those corners she turns when we least expect it. Happy days.

Thanks to this blogger, Tammy, mom of Parker, for her blog as well. I will be adding it to my list.

Let me know if you try Voice4u and have any success.

8 comments:

Candace said...

Kathryn,
Maybe an Ipad is in her future! I am so syched for it to come out in March! I am right there with you as far as all that stuff goes. One of the reasons I stick so close to her since she can't talk and only Carl and I understand what she is trying to say, it's hard...

Jacqui said...

Kathryn,

I have the proloquo2go for the iphone/ipod touch and it is as good as any AAC device that I have ever seen. Marshall has much the same problems with fine motor in that I am just ecstatic if he hits the right button. I am really looking for the IPad release because i believe the p2go will become such a better option. It is however more expensive than the app that you were recommended.

Jacqui

Cheryl said...

if you want to know more about the social model theory of disability, check out the book "Make Them Go Away" by Mary Johnson. I HIGHLY recommend it, if you have the time to read that is

Anonymous said...

I just purchased an Ipod Nano, and it has a camera and can take and play videos with audio. You can also put videos onto it to play.

Claire said...

I am so pleased that you found this useful! I hope it works out for Ellie. It's amazing how new technology is opening up the world to people affordably ( or at least more a bit more)

Here are 2 more pieces of software that are great and they are open source (free) too.

Dwell Clicker allows you to hover over an object on a computer screen to click, instead of pressing a button. It is not available as an app. yet, but something similar might be out there.

http://www.sensorysoftware.com/dwellclicker.html

Dasher lets you type without a keyboard, you point the mouse a the drive letter and sort of drive it along to the next letter in the word. It's hard to explain, but when you're a pro you can get really quick. It is available as an app. for smart phones.

http://www.inference.phy.cam.ac.uk/dasher/

Love Claire

Emma said...

social model isn't something new, it's really coming in here. Love the pic of Ellie, she's getting so big now!

Lisa said...

Might also consider iPROMPT--looks interesting...maybe an iPAD is in Sam's future...

Rubypat said...

Oh, you are SO right - every time I need to purchase something specific for 'special needs' I am staggered at the price. Why should our special children be penalised by not having access to toys, learning abilities, movement, mobility, than any 'normal' child. I hope that the new developments that are coming out will soon be available (and affordable) to all families with special children. Two friends of mine are currently working on a project for people without fine motor skills, so that their brain waves can activate equipment. Mind boggling, for sure, but if even a fraction of the money currently spent on things like space travel, war, etc, were put into these useful fields of research we could change the whole world for these kids/adults.