Thursday, June 25, 2015

Assistive Technology for Behavioral and Emotional Health

Autistics can be successful the way we are. We just have a different style brain and learning style. Video games are a great way for autistic people to learn how play with others. I learned turn-taking by playing video games with my sister. I have had hard time being social when I can’t be myself. When I was able to be myself, I became more social and started liking being around people. 
—Ivanova Smith, Advocate
Thanks to assistive technology (AT), opportunities for improving communication and relationships are expanding for children with social/emotional challenges.

There are thousands of devices and programs (apps) designed to aid communication, teach life skills, improve academic and social learning, and reduce frustrations that can lead to destructive behaviors. Games, in particular, are a great way to engage children with others and the world around them.

We’ve listed a few popular apps below, as well as links to more listings and AT funding resources. No one app or device fits all, so be sure to research and ask around.

Popular Apps

Camp Discovery (FREE)
Developed by the Center for Autism and Related Disorders (CARD), Camp Discovery is a suite of games that create fun learning opportunities for children with autism.

First Then Visual Schedule ($9.99-$14.99)
Helps children use and follow schedules. Let your child choose possible rewards for completed activities.

Learn with Rufus: Feelings and Emotions ($4.99)
Helps children learn the facial expressions that correspond to feelings and emotions.

Meet Heckerty (FREE)
Heckerty finds the world confusing and makes mistakes (as we all do). Teaches reading and vocabulary, inclusiveness, caring and loyalty.

Proloquo2Go ($249.99)
Symbol-supported communication app to promote language development and grow communication skills. This is a popular app in schools, but is great for all ages. Training costs extra (see funding resources below).

For more comprehensive listings, visit one of the following sites:
Bridging Apps
Closing the Gap
Washington Assistive Technology Act Program

Funding Resources

Developmental Disabilities Administration (DDA)
The Children’s In-Home Intensive Behavior Support and Individual & Family Services Program include assistive technology as a covered service.

Community First Choice (CFC)
A new program for individuals eligible for personal care through DDA or Home & Community Services (HCS). Talk to your DDA case manager about AT funding through CFC.

School District
Assistive technology & training can be included in a student’s IEP.  If you feel your child could benefit from assistive technology to improve his/her learning, ask for an assessment.

Washington Access Fund
Low interest loans and matched savings accounts for low-income households.
Washington Assistive Technology Act Program
Information, referrals, training and device loans.

Friday, June 19, 2015

ROADS to Financial Independence

Jar of money labeled BudgetAre you a person with a disability who is working or interested in exploring employment? If  you're interested in making the most of your earnings or potential earnings, Roads to Financial Independence may be for you.
Last month we announced a new financial capabilty program called ROADS. We are proud to be part of this national initiative aimed at improving the financial well-being and economic security of individuals with disabilities who are currently working or interested in exploring employment.
Are you interested in learning the following?
  • How to prepare a monthly, livable budget
  • What is a credit score and how to improve it
  • Methods to decrease debt
  • Methods to increase savings
  • How to set and achieve personal financial goals
  • How to protect against identity theft
  • Independent living skills such as paying rent, paying utilities, and how to keep track of monthly  income and expenses
  • Banking methods such as check writing, using debit cards, and development of savings goals
At the heart of the program is a commitment to financial empowerment for persons with disabilities. Services will include a Financial Wellbeing Assessment, financial education classes, one-on-one financial coaching, reviewing credit scores, SSI/SSDI benefits counseling, maximizing employer benefits and more.
Contact Conrad Reynoldson, Financial Stability Project Coordinator at the Washington Access Fund, to schedule an in-person or phone meeting to complete a financial well-being assessment and learn more about your financial needs.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Get Connected for the Summer

Summer can be an isolating time because we no longer have school to anchor us to the community. It can feel like we’re all of a sudden left on our own and are solely responsible for the care of our (not so easy) children. It’s so important for both parents and kids to stay connected over the summer. Check local community calendars for meetups and other social opportunities. They’re out there! —Rachel Nemhauser (Parent to Parent, The Arc of King County)

If you haven’t had the time or opportunity to locate summer activities for your son or daughter, below are a list of options and avenues to explore.

Some require more planning than others, but not all. Don’t rule out events that are for the whole community. There are lots activities and events that everyone can enjoy. Sometimes, showing up helps open doors for others with similar accessibility and accommodation needs.

Community Centers and YMCA

Craft classes, yoga, cooking, music, swimming, arts, and special events are often low cost and easy to join.

Not only do libraries host free events and story times, but they are a great resource for finding out what else is going on in the community.

Local Parks and Recreation

City and county recreation programs provide inclusive opportunities for children and adults of all abilities, as well as specialized programs. In addition to classes, community events such as music in the park are free and don’t require advance sign up. Check your local paper or community notices for times and locations.

Outdoors for All (located in Seattle)
Adaptive and therapeutic recreation for children and adults with disabilities. Visit:

Service Organizations
Non-profit community groups, such as Elks Club, Lions Club, Kiwanis, Easter Seals, as well as many faith organizations, have programs and activities to benefit children and adults with disabilities.

Summer Camp
Center for Children with Special Needs has a statewide directory of camps, including tips for parents on what to expect and how to prepare. Seattle Children's Hospital Center for Children with Special Health Care Needs has a list of camps.

Trips, Inc.
All inclusive vacation packages for individuals age 16 and older.

Parent Groups
One of the best ways to find out what’s available in your area is to connect with other parents and families.
Autism Society
Local Arcs
Fathers Network
Parent to Parent