Spectrummy Mummy

Asperger's, Allergies, and Adventures Abroad

Posts Tagged ‘IPad

Legacy

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“Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes.

The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them.

About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They invent. They imagine. They heal. They explore. They create. They inspire. They push the human race forward.

Maybe they have to be crazy.

How else can you stare at an empty canvas and see a work of art? Or sit in silence and hear a song that’s never been written? Or gaze at a red planet and see a laboratory on wheels?

We make tools for these kinds of people.

While some see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.”

“Think Different”, Apple, Inc. 1997

I woke up this morning, reached for the iPad, and learned in that way, with great sadness, that Steve Jobs had died.  As I drove my children to school this morning, they both pointed out the iStore as we passed by.  The iPad was the most incredible gift to our family.  I’ve even written about how the iPad helped my two kids to connect with each other.  I’m convinced that this is an essential tool for my girl that will grow with her, supporting and organizing her as she adds more of the skills she needs to succeed in life.

But Steve Job’s legacy is greater than that.  When Pudding first started at her special education preschool, there was another little boy in the class on the autism spectrum.  C was non-verbal, with self-injurious and other difficult to manage behaviours.  He didn’t do well in that classroom, and when the consult was called in assess him for the preschool autism class, that was when Pudding came to the attention of her beloved Ms. S too.  The two kids moved over to the PAC together, and remained in the same class until we moved.

Pudding had a crush on C.  She would get shy around him and cover her eyes when he looked at her, or if we mentioned his name.  Every time I went to see Pudding in her classroom, I got a glimpse of C, struggling so much harder than Pudding that it was hard to imagine they shared the same diagnosis.  He made progress in the new classroom, but he remained unable to communicate at a most basic level.  Pudding’s teacher used an iPod in her classroom, and like all the other kids, C was drawn to it.  She began the paperwork, and eventually he was granted an iPad and the communication software to go with it.

The last time I visited the school, the class had a leaving party for Pudding.  The difference in C was incredible.  He was calmly sitting at the table eating his lunch.  After he finished the food on his plate, he used the device to request more.  The entire time I was there, I saw no tears or aggression.  Ms. S told me they’d even begun toilet-training for him, something that seemed impossible a few months previously.  Finally this incredibly frustrated little boy was able to express himself in ways that weren’t harmful.  He has a way to connect himself with the rest of the world, and we have a way to understand him.

There are countless children like C and Pudding, who “think different” and now have the ability to communicate, to connect, even to escape from the longest hauliest of long-haul flights thanks to this technology.  Who knows,  perhaps they may one day be those adults who push the human race forward.  It may not have been his original intention, but Steve Jobs’ vision created the tools for these people.  The ultimate square pegs in round holes.  Staring at an empty canvas and seeing a work of art.  Sitting in silence and hearing a song that’s never been written.  This was his legacy: bridging our worlds.

I think Steve Jobs must have been crazy enough to think he could change the world, because he did.  He changed ours.

 

If you have anything to spare, please consider making a donation to the HollyRod Foundation to help other children benefit from this life-changing technology.

Written by Spectrummy Mummy

October 6, 2011 at 4:08 am

Sensory Showing

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Last week we were visiting family in Florida, but the timing coincided with something I planned on doing one last time before leaving the country: attending a sensory showing.  Here in the US*, AMC theatres provide a monthly sensory showing of a film for those on the spectrum and their friends and families.  It. Is. Awesome.  The normal rules of the cinematic experience are suspended.  You are free to move around and talk, bring your own allergy-free snacks, and the volume is lowered and a light kept on.  Instead of the usual commercials and trailers, the film begins right away.  They even put a special price on tickets, so a family living here outside expensive Washington D.C. pays the same amount as those living in more affordable parts of the US.

The downside to the sensory showing being only once a month, and catering to the entire population (not just children) meant that the two films Pudding would most have enjoyed were not sensory showings.  We went to see The Princess and The Frog anyway at a regular showing.  We deliberately waited until it has been out for a couple of weeks, and went to a Sunday morning screening where there would be other kids.  Pudding enjoyed much of it, but the sounds was a little loud, and some scenes were scary.  She needed to make a couple of trips to the bathroom.

Towards the end she was a little overwhelmed, and I gave her my iPod (volume off) to distract her.  A woman sitting behind us quickly told us it was distracting her, and asked us to switch it off.  I wanted to tell the woman how well she was doing, that she just didn’t know what distracting was, but she’d soon find out.  But the normal rules applied there, so I did as she asked, fully expecting a meltdown.  But Pudding coped, she just asked to leave again.  Her Daddy took her for another walk and they returned for the final scene.  I was soured by the experience, and when Tangled came out and we found it was not the sensory showing that month, we decided to wait until it came out on DVD.

Finally Toy Story 3 hit the cinema and it was a sensory showing, and we had no other plans that day.  I don’t recall a time when we have felt so welcomed as a family.  There was a real sense of community, and I knew no matter what my kids did, we would be accepted and respected.  There are few times we’ve been out in public when I could say that.  Pudding really only identifies with female characters (read princesses and fairies) and Toy Story 3 became a bit overwhelming for her, so that time we took advantage of being able to wander around safe in the knowledge that we weren’t bothering anyone.  A child behind us began the film by reciting every line after it was spoken.  His parents soon urged him to stop, but it didn’t annoy me in the least; rather it cemented the fact that we were with those who understood.  Pudding had just started in her preschool autism class, and a classmate found her and cupped her face and spelled put her name.  I didn’t know she knew him (though I guessed), but marveled at how relaxed she seemed with somebody touching her.  I wonder if she was so calm because we were, because the normal rules that are so constraining for her just didn’t apply that day.

Our family already had plans the day of the sensory showing of Cars 2, but I persuaded them to join us for it.  Cars 2 definitely isn’t a Pudding kind of film, and it also went over Cubby’s head, but just being free to move around, play in the iPad, and speak is a freedom that they enjoyed, and so did we.  All the cousins got to enjoy the movie together.  Though we were away from home, it was still touching to see moviegoers hugging each other at the end.  That sense of community and belonging is a real gift.

Thank you to The Autism Society and AMC for making these accommodations and giving my children such enjoyment, and making us all feel like we belong.

*UK readers click here for information about an autism-friendly screening.

Written by Spectrummy Mummy

July 8, 2011 at 7:35 am

Is there an app for that?

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One of my reservations about the iPad was that Pudding would become antisocial.  Our goal is to keep her engaged and interacting as much as possible, so I feared that she might hole herself up in her room playing games.  To counter this, I ensure that the only apps on there are of educational value, and I put a password on the device.  It is also possible to put a timer on which sends the iPad into sleep mode after a certain amount of time.

I’m pleased to say that these things haven’t proved necessary.  She has been very good about asking to use the iPad, and is willing to stop when I ask her.  More often than not, she is showing me a picture she has drawn, or how much better she can write her letters now.  She enjoys being in the same room, and has generally been so well-behaved that I removed the password altogether.  She still asks me if she can use it, even though she can operate it herself.  I like that.

As for being antisocial, that hasn’t proven to be a problem yet either.  One of the things she likes to do is go on YouTube to watch Ernie sing the Rubber Ducky Song.  From there she navigates to other favourite clips (don’t worry, there are settings to ensure she only watches appropriate material).  The other day she brought the iPad to me, and said she wanted to put trains on for Cubby.  I was really impressed and touched that she was thinking of what he would like.

I continued to prepare dinner, and after a few minutes of quiet, I went to see what was happening.  They were both lying on the sofa, side-by-side watching the iPad.  I can’t remember a time they have both seemed so content in each other’s company.  I stood still, wishing that my camera wasn’t in the basement, knowing that to go and get it, I’d alert them to my presence and disturb the moment.  I savoured the image, amazed that once again the kids had surprised me with their progress.  The iPad was actually encouraging them to be more social.  Who knew?

Then Pudding looked up and saw me watching her.  “NO!  I want Mummy to go out of the room.”  And just like that, I was reminded that there is still a way to go on her social skills.

Is there an app for that?

Written by Spectrummy Mummy

January 4, 2011 at 12:40 pm

iBelieve

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From before you could buy an iPad, I knew I wanted one for Pudding.  When Cubby was born, his father bought me an iPod Touch.  When I was nursing the newborn, Pudding latched on to the iPod.  I was amazed how well she could use it, how naturally the touch screen and visual layout came to her.  I downloaded some apps for her, and uploaded some cartoons.  It came so naturally to her, she learned so easily in this format.  I didn’t know at the time that she was a visual learner, like many other children on the spectrum.  Of course, I didn’t even know there was a spectrum back then.

I didn’t notice then that her fingers didn’t work quite as well as they should.  I remember during her initial OT evaluation remarking that there was no way she could have significant fine motor delays, as she was so very capable with my iPod.  I was wrong, and following the diagnosis, I observed how her little fingers would struggle and wished they made a bigger iPod that would be just the right size for her.

Months later, that was exactly what Apple did with the iPad.  By that time, however, the device was way out of our budget.  I told myself we’d save up for one for her for Christmas, but finances just became more and more difficult.  We couldn’t afford the therapy our doctor recommended, then we had to let go of her occupational therapist, and speech therapist.  We’d purposely remained in the US to provide the best treatment options for our girl, we’d never imagined how difficult that would be.

I started to read about how the autism community had discovered the same thing with this technology as I’d observed with Pudding.  The iPad tapped right into our kid’s strengths.  Developers created and marketed apps directly to those with communication challenges.  The iPod, and later the iPad, became a more affordable communication device.  Families discovered how it helped their loved one to remain organized, with visual schedules and social stories at the touch of a button.  Pudding’s teacher introduced them to the classroom, and is undergoing training to help Pudding and her classmates use them to their full potential.  Apple had created a revolution.  I told myself one day, perhaps after returning to work, we’d become part of that revolution too.

I didn’t have to wait.  Pudding is the very fortunate recipient of an iPad.  A gift of kindness so touching I can hardly find the words to express my gratitude.  We aren’t waiting for Christmas, she is using it right now.  Though she can use it to access entertainment, it isn’t a toy.  She uses it, she doesn’t play with it.  It is fostering her independence as she makes her own leisure choices.  It is teaching her how to write the letters of the alphabet, and the basics of reading.  It is a tool that works with the way her brain works, rather than struggling against her differences.  I’m busy learning about other apps to organize her day, and encourage appropriate behaviors in unfamiliar situations.  If anybody reading this can recommend apps, please do so in the comments.  We’ve got a lot to learn, but I’m already amazed.

And I believe.  I believe in kindness and goodwill.  I believe that this world is becoming more accommodating to those with differences like my girl.  I believe in my girl.  I believe in her future, with all the tools she needs to succeed in life.

I believe in Santa.

*****

If you have anything left over to give, please consider making a donation to the Autism Society of America, so that other families might benefit from this amazing technology.

Written by Spectrummy Mummy

December 24, 2010 at 8:47 am