Wednesday, May 28, 2008
I am wondering, how do other special educators, working in intensive special education classrooms, get input from their "job-alike" colleagues? One of the things I love about this field if the ability to work on my own according to my own timetable at whatever pace my students demand and at the same time on of the things I find most difficult is how isolating that can be at times. Please comment and share what works for you.
Saturday, May 24, 2008
- Dream Factory ages 3-18, critical or chronic illness documented by physician, referred by physician or parent, child must be able to somehow communicate dream, no vehicles or weapons, USA
- Children's Wish Foundation International ages 3-18, with a life threating disease, anyone can refer, for children under 3 or those who cannot communicate or comprehend a wish there is the Young Mind program, INT
- Kids Wish Network 3-18, with a life threatening disease, be able to communicate their own wish, no other wish through another agency, USA
- Make A Wish Foundation this is the one everyone has heard of, 2 and a half - 18 at time of referral, no other wishes, referred medical personnel, parent or self, express own wish somehow, INT
- Chef David Kid's Chef David has survived 5 kinds of cancer and focuses on granting small (compared to cruises and trips to Disney World) wishes to kids (and the occasional adult) with life threatening diseases or who have survived violence, INT
- Sunshine Foundation ages 3-18, seriously ill, physically, multiply or severely cognitively disabled, or abused children, income under $75,000, referred by parent or legal guardian, no other wishes, USA
- A Special Wish Foundation ages birth through age 20, diagnosed with a life threatening disorder
- Fairy Godmother Foundation terminally ill adult (18+, less than a year to live), must be able to communicate and comprehend wish that is their own desire, first wish granted through such an agency, must be safe, legal and not all travel expenses can be covered, USA
- Dream Foundation terminally ill adult (less than a year to live), 18+, limited financial resources, no cash, property, vehicles, home renovations, travel outside the USA, must communicate own wish (no mention of previous wishes)
- Her Hearts Wish women, age 18+, less than two years to live, no previous wish, must communicate own wish, no property, cash or vehicles
- Deliver the Dream offers retreats for families facing various acute or chronic diseases or disabilities in children or adults
- Give the Kids The World gives trips to central Florida/Disney World, ages 3-18, diagnosed with life threating illness, must work through cooperating wish granting agency
- Believe in Tomorrow offers retreats for families with sick children and adventures for children with life threatening illnesses (like skydiving and bull riding)
First and foremost you probably need to know that when seeking funding AAC stops being called AAC and starts being called a SGD or Speech Generating Device.
Here are some funding sources for students with severe or multiple disabilities:
- medicaid/medicare and private health insurance (you usually need patient information form, SLP evaluation, prescription, letter of medical necessity)
- school system (mandated by IDEA)
- charitable organizations
- Muscular Dystrophy Association will fund AAC for student's who have a condition covered by MDA (such as muscular dystrophy or mitochondrial disease), an evaluation recommending a device from an SLP, a prescription from a doctor at an MDA clinic and have been denied coverage by health insurance or have no insurance), the amount changes annually - this year it is 2,000 dollars
- NOCK accepts applications from children who need AAC devices or wheelchairs and have exhausted all other means of funding
- The Disabled Children's Relief Fund accepts grant applications to provide goods and services need for children with disabilities who cannot otherwise afford them or attain them
- try local churches, synagogues, ELKs, Knights of Columbus, Shriners, Ladies Aid groups,
- depending on the state Easter Seals or ATA may have funding or a lending library
- local United Cerebral Palsy Chapters have access to the Bellows Fund for assistive technology which may be used for AAC
Many of the top AAC companies have funding assistance and/or funding guides, such as Dynavox, just go to the website and look or call and ask
Finally parents or families may choose to take out a loan to purchase on their own (not recommended, if the student is in public school the school is legally required to purchase an AAC device if it is needed to make educational progress). Here is the RESNA listing of state AT loan programs.
Friday, May 23, 2008
Thursday, May 22, 2008
The Every Day Life Project is a free, membership required, website designed to teach learners how to do life skills tasks in a failure free environment. Other parts of the website have lessons on math and money, computers and online literacy classes. Though not intended for intesive special needs many of the materials are appropriate or adaptable. It is about life skills, literacy and success. Here is what their web site says:
What is the Everyday Life Project?
The Everyday Life project uses interactive, situation-based lessons to teach functional literacy skills. This new approach to learning allows learners to apply their basic literacy skills to real-world situations so they can gain the confidence and skills to be successful.
Why Teach Functional Literacy?
The lack of literacy in the United States is a very real problem. 22% of people tested in the 2003 National Assessment of Adult Literacy (NAAL) scored at the Basic level in document literacy, representing 44 million Americans that do not know how to apply their basic literacy skills to everyday life.
Individuals at the Basic level can read the texts they encounter; however, they may struggle to integrate and synthesize information, and perform quantitative tasks with multiple steps.
Our goal is to help these 44 million people reach the Intermediate level and obtain the skills they need to succeed.
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
Deadline June 15th
Start a blog on your use of assistive technology in the classroom, at home, in your daily life or children's life, etc. We need more folks contributing their experiences and opinions on AT use and AT products. Be creative and start a blog here at Blogger .
1. This must be your first time to start a blog
2. You must post at least 2 times a week
3. Your post content should be making a positive contribution.
Learning Magic is our sponsor for this contest. They have wonderful educational software for Intellitools, Clicker 5, My Own Bookshelf and more. The winner will receive any original program from the catalog! Their link is http://www.learningmagicinc.com/ Send your blog link to me at: firstname.lastname@example.org Make sure to put "Blog Contest" in the title of your email. The winner will be selected randomly and announced June 16th.
I wish I qualified! Maybe the next contest will be for blog veterans?
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
I do agree that this is very disappointing, .
We as the pikikids creators do try and moderate the site as much as possible.
Of course as this is an internet website we don't control what image appears as the coolest comic as it is community voted by the users of the site, we do of course moderate this as often as possible so I would say it was very bad timing that this comic happened to be voted as the coolest just as you guys looked it it.
You may note that all comics can be reported as offensive by users and they are atomically remove from the site
We can create a site for you that is separate from pikikids, with your branding and you can moderate this.
Disappointing? Seriously? Is that what you had said if the word "N***r" or "F****t" had slipped through? Obviously you have no idea how offensive that word is. I don't want to moderate my own site, I want you to take responsibility for yours.
One other thing. This is a site for KIDS. Children, who by their very nature are likely to make bad decision that need moderating. Who in their right mind would decide not to moderate for offensive or prejudice before they move something to their home page?
My little blog only get 300-500 hits a day, educators all, but my blogger friend Larry Ferlazzo already re-posted my story about this and his hit count is many, many times mine. You should think about how detrimental it is going to be to alienate all those educators for the sake of allowing your community of children to make bad decisions.
Of all the links I shared with the group today the best received were:
- Dipity for Timelines with planned use in literature, history and science
- Voicethread for multimedia presentations with planned use in all subjects, but the most excited teacher planned to use it to with her art class as a way to have her students share their projects with their sister class in Japan (other teachers were excited to use for authentic reading and math assessment)
- Bubbl.us for mind maps with planned use in multiple subjects in the upper grades one teacher commented, "imagine doing that in Word? No way!"
- Class Timer for, well, timing things, with planned use to aid transitions and time tests
- Exploratree Graphic Organizers with planned use in almost all subjects
I hate to tell you this, but you blew it. Really blew it. I am a technology specialist (and a special education teacher) and today I was teaching 27 educators about ways to use technology to promote universal design for learning. One of the ways I was suggesting they do this was by using online comic creation tools, like Piki Kids, to have students summarize materials or to teach social skills. Unfortunately when I logged on and your site glowed onto my giant screen there was the giant word "retards". What were you thinking? How could you possibly think it was alright to feature a comic that used this offensive and belittling slang word for a person with a cognitive disability as your "coolest comic"?
Needless to say there are now 27 teachers, plus me, who will not be using Piki Kids. And I am posting this letter to you on my special education blog, as a warning to other special needs teachers to stay away from your offensive web site. Like I said, you blew it.
Monday, May 19, 2008
Therefore I am calling all of us out there - teachers, SLPs, parents, users - to back up AAC devices this week. Take the time to save all your hard work just in case something goes wrong!
Back Up Directions
- Prentke Romich to USB Flash Drive
- Prentke Romich to PC
- Prentke Romich to MAC
- Dynavox V Series to External File Storage (USB Flash Drive, External Hard Drive, PC Computer, etc)
- Dynavox Series Four to USB Drive
- Dynavox Palm3/iChat3 to PC
- Enkidu Devices
- Tango Back Up
Friday, May 16, 2008
1. Close Boardmaker if it is currently running.
2. Locate and open the Boardmaker with SD Pro folder. If you used all of the defaults when you installed Boardmaker, it will be located on your (C:) drive in the Program Files folder.
3. Open the Symbol Folder.
4. Place the Boardmaker symbol files (.pc2 files) in the MJ Symbols –Additional folder.
5. The new symbols have now been added to your Boardmaker library and will be ready next time you open the program.
1. Close Boardmaker if it is currently running.
2. Locate and open the Boardmaker folder. In most cases, this will be located in the Applications folder.
3. Open the Symbol Folder.
4. Place the Boardmaker symbol files (.pc2 files) in the MJ Symbols – Additional folder.
5. The new symbols have now been installed in your Boardmaker library and will be ready next time you open the program.
These directions are directly from Mayer-Johnson, they came with my completed symbol request today (for symbols related to putting on a coat - they are awesome). I am posting them mostly so I can find them myself later!
Thursday, May 15, 2008
Jenna has Spinal Muscular Atrophy. This video shows her using the Quick Glance 3 by Eye Tech to paint a picture using eye movement only. You can't see Jenna, but you can see her paint and hear her mom chat with her. Very cool.
See more videos of Jenna.
Please note that the Quick Glance eye gaze controller cannot be added to any current AAC device on the market. The competitor to the Quick Glance is the Tobii, but it does not allow the head and body movements that the Quick Glance does and does not interact with off the shelf software as well as the Quick Glance. (I know because I have tried them both.)
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
Today there has been an interesting discussion on the QIAT Listserv about how to find out the reading level on text. A number of websites were listed that can be used to look up a book and also two technology assisted Do-It-Yourself methods.
Websites to research reading levels on common books:
- Leveled Book Database
- Accelerated Reader List (here) or here
- Scholastic Book Wizard
- Reading Lady List of Sites to Determine Reading Level (.doc)
- Edit Central's Cut and Paste Online Analyzer
- Fountas and Pinnel ($$$)
Do-It-Yourself Method Two: What about online text? Text you have written yourself? Try using Microsoft Word! Highlight a section or all of the text in Word then go to "tools", under "spelling and grammar" choose "option". Now click on "Show Readability Statistics". Wow!
Thanks to the QIAT posters for sharing all of this!
(By the way, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, one of my favorite childhood books (along with Blueberries for Sal, Nana Upstairs and Nana Downstairs, and Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day) is a 6.4 on the Flesch-Kincaid Index, costing 127 dollars per word.)
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
This is a guest post written a couple of months ago by my friend and classroom speech therapist as part of a program wide in-service she ran for our staff. The inservice was great and focused mostly on AAC and a new device run on eye-gaze called the Eye Tech Speech Generating Device (which blows the Tobii out of the water) that has opened new doors from some of our students.
WHAT IS THE POINT? OR WHAT’S IN IT FOR THEM?
Expression of wants, needs and emotions may get basic needs/desires satisfied.
The ability to declare a dislike may result in a change in the behavior of others.
Being able to provide basic information about their personal care will result in the improvement of that care.
Communication may allow the manipulation of their environment, including commanding animals (directives to pets), playing games, recreational activities.
It is of necessity in a crisis to provide basic biographical information.
Interacting with others brings about social closeness.
Telling jokes makes others laugh and promotes humor between partners.
Writing letters to family and friends helps convey current events in their lives.
Literacy skills allow access to the curriculum.
WITH WHOM DO/SHOULD THEY COMMUNICATE?
In a perfect world, our students would interact with everyone with whom they came in contact. In reality, they tend to choose adult caregivers as partners in communication. With prompting, they will look to peers, but that is with reinforcement from adults who often will repeat what they have already chosen on their devices.
WHERE and WHEN ARE THEY MOST LIKELY TO COMMUNICATE?
In structured situations when being asked direct questions. This may be thought of as contradictory, as we are asking them to think of their devices as their voices, then are giving them limited opportunities in which they can be accessed. This includes the home setting where they may not be used at all.
HOW CAN WE HELP TO INCREASE THE LIKELIHOOD THAT THEIR DEVICES WILL BE USED AND USED EFFECTIVELY?
Provide the device to the student in as many situations as possible.
Reduce the number of direct questions that are asked. Think about the number of times the student has been asked repeatedly for information. If it is necessary for the student to provide that message, try to engage in a conversation which may elicit the same response or use an open-ended format.
If possible, program random messages onto frequently used buttons. For example, “How are you?” could also say, “How’s it going”, “What’s happening?”, “What’s up?”, etc. In doing so, think of each student and his/family and what might be appropriate. If possible, ask for feedback from the student.
Keep messages current. For example, the question page may reflect holidays, weather conditions, and vacations.
Make each device personal with messages relating to home and family. A “news” button is helpful and can be dedicated to home, school or both. This encourages use/communication between school and home.
In trying to reinforce the device as the student’s voice and encouraging its use at home, remember that we cannot push familial boundaries
Try using the device with the student without talking. You will discover what messages are missing as well as its limitations. Ask yourself: Am I bored? What would make it more fun? (think music, jokes, messages to friends). More interesting? (questions, reactions). How difficult is it to navigate?
Then make a list and we go back to the drawing board and with the student, begin to re-program the device to make it more user-friendly.
Judith Heerlein, MS, CCC
March 12, 2008
Sunday, May 11, 2008
Students Treasures is a company that publishes hard bound copies of student books. They use the writing, illustrations and photographs created by your students and publish them. One of the great things that they offer is a free copy of your class book as long as you send home information to parents so they may purchase a copy. The offer is for grades K-6, but as a non-graded classroom teacher i sent away for my publishing kit today. I plan to offer my students a choice of creating a book about disability awareness or transition. Click here to order a publishing kit.
Friday, May 9, 2008
Sitris is web 2.0 application that may be useful for those with speech disorders. Essentially Sitris is a web based AAC system that allows users to pre-program phrases and/or use text-to-speech to communicate on the phone. The concept behind Sitris is to offer AAC to those who do not need an AAC device but have problems being understood on the phone. As the system is text based it may be limiting to users with cognitive impairment in addition to speech issues, but users may be able to memorize which buttons to click by location or sight words.
Sitris also allows AAC device users to access there services via the web on their device, use their device to program phrases into Sitris and then Sitris to make their phone calls. This seems a little over-the-top for most AAC users as they can likely already use their device to access various forms of telecommunications, but perhaps there are possibilities I am not seeing.
Sitris offers 50 free minutes through a trial account with registration. After that the cost is $9.95 for 100 minutes (in the US for US calls). Sitris is not recommended for 911 calls.
Ideally an evaluation for an augmentative/alternative communication device for a student is a team effort including the student, the family, the speech language therapist, the teacher and other specialists like an occupational therapist, physical therapist, a teacher of the vision impaired, a teacher of the hearing impaired and others.
The primary role of the teacher is to offer information on the students cognitive and social abilities and needs and to assist with teaching the student how to use the device and obtaining information from the family. The secondary role is to assist the SLP is gathering the information he or she will need. This may include collecting information like diagnosis, current communication methods and more. It may include helping with the trial of a device.
It is fairly universal that every student will have to have a trial or rental of a device (with addition equipment for access if needed) to collect data and determine if the device and access method is appropriate in order to secure funding.
One of the ways that teachers (paraprofessionals and parents/home caregivers) will be able to greatly assist in the process of securing an AAC device is by collecting data during the trial period of the prospective device.
In the classroom we can set up systems to help the SLP collect the information he or she will need to include on their evaluation they will send to Medicaid/Medicare or a private insurance company to secure funding.
Some of the things the SLP will need for the trial review portion of his or her evaluation are:
- the environments in which the device was using (i.e. the classroom, cafeteria, library, community including retail and public locations, vocational settings, after school activities such as scouts, sports, religious education/services)
- the communication partners the device was used with (teacher, therapists (OT, PT, psychological), peers, parents, siblings, community workers, religious staff, personal care attendant, job coach)
- the ways in which the device was used (to comment, to request, to greet and take leave, etc)
- AMDI Activity Exchange
- Crick Clicker5 Learning Grids
- Dynavox - none (although there are some files for download they are not true "sharing")
- Intellitools Classroom Suite Activities Exchanges
- Mayer-Johnson Boardmaker, Boardmaker Plus, Boardmaker Speaking Dynamically Pro Adapted Learning
- Prentke Romich Teaching Materials Exchange
- Proloquo2Go - None
- Satillo - None
- Tango- None
- Tico Projects
- Tobii Communicator/Viking Communicator and Symbolmate Page Set Central
(B=Boardmaker, WWS=Writing with Symbols, CS=Classroom Suite, Click=Clicker5)
- Baltimore City School Boardmaker Adapted Books (B)
- Behavior Boards (B)
- Boardmaker Yahoo Group (B)
- Burnaby Boardmaker Resources (B)
- Call Centre Boardmaker Files (B)
- Cindy's Activities (B, WWS)
- Clickerpedia (Click)
- Communication Overlays (B)
- Creative Communicating Freebies (I+)
- Dade School Resources (B)
- Dilite Activity Boards (original)
- Dynavox Board Downloads (UK Site)
- Dynavox Page Exchange (D 2c and 3100)
- East Gippsland Boardmaker Support Group (B)
- Eau Claire School Boardmaker Files (B)
- Engineering the Classroom Boards
- Fairfax County Boardmaker Activities (B)
- Gateway Communication Board
- How to make a back up copy of Boardmaker
- Intellitools Activities Exchanges (CS)
- Jewish Picture Sets
- Kidspiration Collection (K)
- Learning Grids (Clicker/Clicker Paint)
- Mayer-Johnson Activity of the Month (B, SDP)
- Mayer-Johnson Sharing (B, SDP)
- My Dynamic Therapy (b, i, dynavox)
- NYC AAC Resouces (B,WWS, I)
- OATC Activity Exchange (b,i,c,k)
- PictureSET (B)
- Print and Teach Free Stuff
- Project Participate Curriculum Creations (b, wws, i)
- Queensland Boardmaker Resources (B,C,D,I)
- Reducing the Risk (b)
- Region 2 Library
- Speaking of Speech Materials Exchange (B)
- Spectronics Activities Exchange
- Speech Games (B)
- Sunrise Boards (B, PDF)
- Switch Use Resources (PPT)
- Teacher Created Resources (B,S,I)
- Text Communication Board
- Tinsnips Boards (B, PDF)
Wednesday, May 7, 2008
Here is a link to an adapted reading journal using picture symbols students could fill out using labels (with or without pictures) pre-printed either by a student using a program like Classroom Suite to "type" and then printed onto sticker paper or pre-printed by a parent or teacher. This alternative jounral could be submitted attached to a copy of the journal filled in by the teacher or a parent (to give non-readers/non-writers or alternative readers/writers) some ownership of filling out the form.
In other, similar programs and contests many store managers will let older special needs student participate or compete at their ability level or using adaptations (book on tape, screen reader, adapted texts). Usually this is up to the local store manager, so go ahead and ask if your older students can participate. It can't hurt.
Tuesday, May 6, 2008
1. The rules of the game get posted at the beginning.
2. Each player answers the questions about themselves.
3. At the end of the post, the player then tags 5-6 people and posts their names, then goes to their blogs and leaves them a comment, letting them know they’ve been tagged and asking them to read the player's blog.
4. Let the person who tagged you know when you’ve posted your answer.
1. What was I doing 10 years ago?
Ten years ago I was a few weeks shy of my undergraduate degree at Simmons, where I was a student in a five year combined BA/MS program in intensive special education. I was doing my clinical teaching at Franciscan Children's Hospital/Kennedy Day School and looking for an apartment, I eventually landed in Jamaica Plain in Boston.
2. What are my 5 things on my to-do list for today (not in any particular order):
- charge my cell phone
- research neurofeedback as a treatment for Asperger's syndrome
- return a text message from my brother's girlfriend in Hawaii
- try to finish my (late) quarterly progress reports
- do some work on the Australia thematic unit I am teaching
4. Things I would do if I were a billionaire:
- pay off student loans and all bills, buy a house
- pay off my dad's bill and his mortgage so he can retire
- pay off my brother's bills so he will have some nieces and nephews for me and then make sure he has money to bring them home to visit twice a year (or more, but Hawaii to Massachusetts is brutal)
- start my own special needs school focused on AAC and AT for learners with multiple special needs
- letting my introverted side win and not socializing very much
- not enough attention to a healthy diet and exercise (hmmm.... if I were a billionaire I would pay someone to make me healthy meals and snacks, but I doubt I would bother to increase my exercise very much)
7. 5 jobs I have had: Personal Care Attendant, Physical Therapy Aide, Camp Counselor/Director, Research Assistant, Language Lab Clerk (I was thinking of writing "lab rat" because in college I volunteered as a subject for studies to make cash, but it isn't really a job)
8. 6 people I want to know more about, because I'm just that nosy:
Ricky at ATMac, Lon at No Limits to Learning, Paul Hamilton from Free Resources from the Net for (Special) Education, Larry Ferlazzo from Larry Ferlazzo's Websites of the Day, MadATer from MadATer, Barrie Ellis from One Switch.Org
Sunday, May 4, 2008
- Crick Web
- BGfL White Board Resources
- Kent NGfL White Board Resources
- NGfL Northumberland
- SMART Education Resources
- Interactive Whiteboard Ideas
- Tutorial on Using SMART Boards with Power Point
Here is a link to apply for a grant for a MIMIO Board.
It is worth trying out for a week or two and seeing if it is useful.