Monday, October 29, 2012

Apps for Girls

In honor of Girls' Club restarting at Sensi's school this month, here are a group of apps that are all things girly. All apps are the standard .99 to $4.99 unless otherwise noted. If noted as free, they were free at the date of publishing.



image via: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/toca-tea-party/id424174500?mt=8
Toca Tea Party: A take anywhere tea party to play alone or with your friends.
https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/toca-tea-party/


image via:http://www.wired.com/geekmom/2010/10/mathgirl-addition-house-iphone-app/
MathGirl Number Garden and Math Girl Addition House: For girls learning addition and multiplication. Count flowers, recognize patterns, earn stars to buy things for your garden and house.
https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/mathgirl-number-garden
https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/mathgirl-addition-house



image via: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/adventure-7wonderlicious-girls/id413970752?mt=8
The Adventures of the 7Wonderlicious Girls: Role modeling short stories cards about intelligence, exploration and adventure.
 https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/adventure-7wonderlicious-girls



image via: http://www.designmom.com/2010/09/paper-town-friends/
Paper Town Friends: A paper doll app that looks like actual paper. Many characters and outfits to choose from.
https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/paper-town-friends 



image via: http://us.dk.com/static/cs/us/11/features/apps/legominifigureapp/
Lego Minifigure Ultimate Sticker Book:  Okay, not really girly but it lets her play with her brother's toys without destroying them. Considering the real world version of this book is over $10 on Amazon, and that she can play with the stickers over and over, this is great.
https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/lego-minifigure-ultimate-stickers


image via: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/princess-dress-up/id545920942?mt=8
Princess Dress-Up: Free, with in-app purchase for 1.99. Lovely graphics, but the princesses are limited to white skin and blond, red, brunette and black hair, and only 4 backgrounds.  That being said, choose options from 12 categories including dresses, hairstyles, pants, eyes and earrings. Finally a princess app that is not sickeningly sweet or Disney.
https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/princess-dress-up


image via: https://itunes.apple.com/au/app/my-nail-salon/id551016532?mt=8
My Nail Salon:  A game with customers to satisfy, but lots of cool nail art options to play around with. Plus no mess while they play.
https://itunes.apple.com/au/app/my-nail-salon
Nail Salon Pro HD: a more grown up version, without the game play.
https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/nail-salon-pro-hd 


image via: http://www.funeducationalapps.com/2012/02/butterfly-brunch-math-apps-promo-codes-give-away.html
Butterfly Brunch: a simple coordinate plotting game. Feed the butterfly at the coordinate and move the caterpillar to the top of the flower.
https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/butterfly-brunch 


image via: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/toca-store/id442705759?mt=8
Toca Store: Play store on the go. Uses basic math and two player option good for teaching taking turns
 https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/toca-store


The last one is not so girly, but fun anyway. I must say that while researching this post I was saddened by the lack of science, math and engineering apps for girls. I would love to see a chemistry app to formulate your own cosmetics or a doll house building app. If they could figure out a way to have a self contained SciGirls app I know I would buy it. There is plenty of room for developers to grow in this area. Let me know what gems I may have missed. Have some great eplay with these.



resources: 
http://www.commonsensemedia.org/mobile-app-lists/apps-girls 
http://digitalmediadiet.com/?p=1714 



Monday, October 22, 2012

Using Google Docs Slide Show: Social Stories

We have had a rash of destructive events in our household recently. I have been trying to convey to Sensi how hard it makes it for all of us when she destroys things.

I went to Google Docs intending to explore how to make a Halloween costume social story when it occurred to me that I could use the slide show to make a social story for Sensi's destructive impulses too. 



Here is the basics:
Go to Google Docs, click on  the presentation icon. 
This will give you an example of what one looks like. Click on get started. 
If you already have Google docs then go to My Drive.
image via: http://macdonaldtechforteachers.wikispaces.com/Google+Docs+-+Students
  Click on the Create icon
Then choose Presentation
image via: http://support.google.com/docs/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=1705254
 A new window will open for you to choose your theme 
(this can be changed later.)
Write out your title page
image via: http://office.about.com/od/AltOfficeSuites/ss/Google-Docs-Image-Gallery_6.htm

Go to Insert if you want to add pictures or word art
When you are satisfied then click on Slide (next to the Insert drop down menu.)
Choose New Slide and that will be the next page in your social story. 
Repeat as needed.

This will give you a slide show. 
Now you just put the steps or message you want to convey to your child and add pictures if you would like.

When you are done, go to Files, you can send it as a pdf to teachers, print it out, or just save it to show your child from your computer.  I prefer to print mine, since I can then get Sensi's attention when we are reading them. Bring the story to her, in a way. That doesn't mean that she likes to read them, but at least I know I am giving her the message in something more than a verbal reprimand. 

The general details of a social story are: 
Use no more than one directive sentence and up to five or so descriptive sentences. Use positive language and refrain from using always, and use usually or sometimes instead. 
Have fun with your own social stories for your kids. 
Here is the one I made for Sensi: 

https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1mRmiDo1seZRtxAZwI2r2kWtbB_zoTuDalItlcqYfY18/present#slide=id.p


Resources: 
https://docs.google.com/document/d/10AP_p_CLzMhzd_lBsOWSlOVZWTQSe1Avki1yviPY4GQ/edit?hl=en 
 

Friday, October 19, 2012

Post AIT - Two Months

image via: http://storage.cloversites.com/duluthgospeltabernacle/site_images/page13_picture0.jpg

I was talking to Sensi's Occupational Therapist (OT) and we were discussing Sensi's presence in her surroundings. It has become apparent that she is "here" more often then checked out and in her head. She is paying more attention to what others are saying and responding to it. She was trying to fasten her shoe and someone said something about her having a hard time doing that, she replied "I'm learning..."  She also has been saving up things she wants to say to use at an appropriate time, and is finding those moments more and more. 
image via: http://jasonrenshaw.typepad.com/jason_renshaws_web_log/2010/05/without-reflection-we-may-be-planning-to-stand-still.html

One windy day we were outside waiting for the bus.  We agreed on blowing bubbles while we were waiting. The bubbles blew up and away, fast and furious. She came up to me, looked at me and the bubble bottle and said "Jeepers, that's a lot of fun!" The "Jeepers" comes from her Franny's Feet show, but she used it at the right time and gave it the right emphasis and meaning.  I also find it interesting that the day after her school teacher and I were discussing where her iPad cover could have gone, it appeared suddenly in her bedroom.  All these things could have happened on their own as part of her normal development, but it really does seem, even if it is because of expectations being met that she is continuing to make progress.
She has still been having some issues with toileting. She had been dry at night for the most part since this summer.  Now she is only dry about 50% of the time. I am not sure what is causing this, but it is something I have noticed. 
image via: http://1063thebuzz.com/april-fools-prank-video-contest/

Her other quirk that has had some odd results is she has been plugging her ears with her fingers to keep the noise out. Several weeks ago she added wetting her fingers in her mouth and then putting her fingers in her ears to keep the sound out. The sensitivity to noise is something I expected and accepted. The giving herself wet willies all the time, not so much. She has had one ear infection and I had to take her to Urgent Care last weekend for ear pain. She had a plug of wax the size of a pencil eraser blocking her ear canal. I talked with her OT about writing a social story for her to have at Theraplay, home and school about not sticking her fingers in her ears. 

image via: https://www.facebook.com/SaintPaulPublicSchools/photos_stream?ref=ts

She is still snubbing her lunch for the most part. But apparently she is three for three with the chicken drumstick meal. I have taken to keeping the big carton of goldfish and some breakfast bars in the car for after school snacks when I pick her up for her therapies. She is still 97% in height and 95% in weight, so I am not terribly concerned about her missing a few meals. She will eventually adjust to school lunch again and we will forget all about her snubbing her food at school.  She is doing better and better, and that is all I have been hoping for.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Different Times: Sensory Input Memories

image via:  http://www.bakersfieldcalifornian.com/local/x254542661/Looping-classes-rare-but-popular-in-Bakersfield-schools

 The hard part of having a child with sensory issues is trying to explain it to someone who doesn't understand.  The way schools are set up today a child must be very outgoing and social to be considered successful.  Schools didn't used to be so pushy about being social. When I was little, I don't remember having to crowd around the teacher on the floor each morning.  We sat at our desks, facing forward and listened to her directions.
image via:

The world today is full of sensory input that wasn't there when we were kids.  The library was redesigned few years ago, it had strobing/trailing lights at the entrance to the new Children's wing. I wrote to complain about how hard that would be to those with sensory issues and now I find the lights are pleasantly steady. I am sure I wasn't the only parent who complained about that particular issue.

 image via:  http://thecornerstoneforteachers.com/2009/09/september-classroom-of-month.html 
Schools have changed too; I remember the only input at school was the back of the kid's head in front of me, the teacher at the front of the class, and maybe the smelly kid in the next row. Now all the desks are grouped together with the children facing one another, and someone sitting on either side. How hard is it to concentrate on your lessons when you have others looking at you and what you are doing all the time?


image via:  http://bvsd.org/bondproject/August%2009%20slide%20show/Forms/DispForm.aspx?ID=52


The memories I have of kindergarten are: a large room full of kids, two classes with a partial divider in between "classrooms. There was also a giant gym where we also ate lunch. 
First grade I remember a field trip and a visit from a herpetologist with a very large snake. It was surprising to me that the snake wasn't slimy, but had dry scaly skin. We had our desks arranged in a U shape, with a child on either side of me. I remember being put at a table in the library for some of the school day to do workbooks on my own. I loved doing that! When I finished early, I got to draw as much as I wanted. 
We moved and I ended up in a room full of kids, all desks facing front. The new school had the same big gym they also used as a lunchroom.  The playground had a giant fenced athletic field for us to run on during recess.  Second grade, I had no major sensory issues aside from starting music class.  
Third grade, they had two rooms open to each other, with a partial divider like the kindergarten set up from the old school. I was overwhelmed again. I don't remember much else besides all the noise from that classroom.
Fourth grade was back to a single classroom, desks lined up again. That arrangement made it easier for me to focus. I was moved to different rooms for some classes, with a bunch of other kids. That made it hard to settle down and concentrate, but it wasn't over the top. Fifth grade was again divided classrooms, also the switching for different math and reading classes. The best part about Fifth grade was the classrooms were adjacent to the library and we could go out there and look for books or read, if we finished up our lessons early.    

image via:  http://www.rittenassoc.com/prod01.htm
Sixth grade - Middle School.  What a sensory nightmare! We still all faced forward, but there was switching out rooms for almost every class. I remember being relieved to only have to go to the next room over and not through the maze of hallways with the crowd of kids to another room.  Having to deal with a locker in a "locker bay" was hard, it was loud and crowded and learning how to operate a combination lock was tricky.   I eventually figured out a work around and only went to my locker during quieter times.  Gym class was in a gigantic gym and now we had swimming. I never liked swimming, the whole putting my face in the water was disconcerting to me.  Now I had to deal with the echoes in the pool area, the sharp smell of the chlorine bleach, the itchy suits we were required to wear.  Ugh, it makes me shudder remembering it all. It was always a relief to have physical education outside.  Lunch was thankfully in a lunch room, smaller than the gym we ate lunch in during grade school.  I eventually adjusted to all the sensations of middle school.



Next came High School. It was truly an overwhelming nightmare. Switching classes with hundreds of other kids at the same time. Lockers slamming, stairways crammed with kids going in both directions. Every time someone bumped into me I was on alert.  I took to carrying a large tote bag to cushion the impact.  Eventually I learned to use the back stairs in each wing of the school, but sometimes that made me late.  We still all sat facing forward in rows except for geometry and art.  The gym wasn't just huge it was ENORMOUS. I hated gym and the locker room most of all. The smells from the cheerleaders using Ben-gay for their sore muscles, the perfumes and hair product smells were enough to gag me.  

It is telling that almost all the sensory memories are unpleasant. I learned to accommodate the overwhelming input over time, but it was helpful not to have to face other children when I was trying to pay attention and learn.  It was also helpful not to have lunch in a gym and I was very thankful for those back stairways in high school. Being able to avoid the crush of the other students was one of the few things that made it bearable. Over time I have outgrown some of my sensory issues, and some have become more apparent.  It makes sense to attend to the school environment and make accommodations when possible for our sensory sensitive kids.






Monday, October 8, 2012

Writing an Effective E-mail to School

As much as you would like to, do not send this:



image via: http://harrypotter.wikia.com/wiki/File:Howler.JPG


There comes a time when you are going to have to communicate your concern or displeasure to the school. There are a few things you will want to cover in your missive. 
I have had to write several and will share with you some examples to show you what to try to achieve.
MPR photo/Tom Weber    image via: http://minnesota.publicradio.org/display/web/2012/09/04/education/school-bus-delay/

Dear Ms. M and Mr. A,
I am writing to articulate my preferences for Sensi's placement for Kindergarten. I understand the district wants to keep children in their transportation area for school placement. My concern is that decision is made by transportation considerations alone. I am very willing to transport Sensi to her school rather than leave the school placement decision to transportation concerns.
Sensi has to be placed in a program that has mainstreaming as part of its framework. Her IEP states that she will be mainstreamed for at least an hour of each school day, and up to 2 and a half hours, with the understanding that when she is ready for more mainstream classroom time we will call an IEP meeting.  I want to make sure that is a positive experience for her so we don't see any regression in her skills. To do that she needs to attend a school that has a proven plan for mainstreaming children with autism. The Autism Program has shown me that they have that plan.
My next concern is about technology. I feel as if the program at Neighborhood Elementary was less than enthusiastic about using Sensi's iPad with her in class. In comparison, the positive feedback I got from the teacher at the Autism Program was that using the Proloquo2Go program would not be a problem.
I hope that my articulating my concerns and needs for Sensi will help  you make the best decision for Sensi's Kindergarten experience.
Sincerely,
Savvy Advocate Mom 

image via: http://alexgiampapa.wordpress.com/2012/08/01/fire-drills-why-bother/

Dear Mr. B and Ms. J,
It has come to my attention that you did not warn The Autism Program that there would be a fire drill last Thursday, Oct. 4, 2012. I want you to know that it is very detrimental to The Autism Program students not to give them advance warning of these drills. My child in particular has had AIT (Auditory Integration Training,) therapy this last summer. She needs to have her hearing protected after having this expensive, intensive listening training. She is supposed to have her hearing protected from extremely loud sounds for the next year. She is not allowed to attend movies in theaters, wear music ear buds or music headphones. I have alerted her IEP team to this situation, but they cannot be expected to protect her hearing without any warning of alarms. They have noise dampening earphones in the classroom to protect the children's ears, but they must know ahead of time to put them on the children before an alarm to have the protective effect.
I am asking you to please alert The Autism Program, and Ms. W.T. in particular about any planned fire drills, tornado drills or other alarms that will be scheduled during this school year to protect my daughter's hearing and progress she has made from doing AIT therapy.

Sincerely,
Savvy Advocate Mom
Parent/Advocate

image via: http://www.californiademocrat.com/news/2011/oct/11/spaghetti-dinner-fundraiser-russellvillelohman-fir/

Honestly, I think I did a better job in the first letter, because I gave myself more time to think and plan. The second one only took me about an hour from start to my second draft. The first one I think I may have done at least three drafts.
It is important to state clearly what your concern is, what you want done and how you think that can be accomplished. Be sure to state what you are willing to do as well as any other outstanding circumstances that effect the situation.  It is a good idea to include dates and other specifics as well. Make sure not to blame any one person for a short coming if that is not the case. Even though I felt that the teacher at my neighborhood special ed program was lacking, I did not lead with that, rather I used it a almost an afterthought. The bigger issue of mainstreaming, which was a programming/structural problem that needed to be addressed. State how your wishes are supported by the IEP or 504 plan you have for your child. Make sure they know how to contact you and also know who is the next person up the chain to contact if you are not satisfied with the result from you communication. You must to follow up later if you don't hear from the addressee in a timely manner. The follow up letter can be addressed to the original addressee and their superior.
image via:http://www.autmont.com/2012/09/wrightslaw-conference-in-silver-spring.html

For more information on writing an effective letter, including taking time to cool off, and making your first try a DRAFT, follow this link:
 http://www.wrightslaw.com/advoc/articles/12rules_letters.htm





Monday, October 1, 2012

Sharing Apps: Apps for Both Kids

SensiGirl just had a birthday, she's 7 and Random Guy is 10 and a half. They both have iPads now and I am looking to find some apps that I can load on both of their devices to get some extra value out of the apps we buy.   The following apps are about right for both of them. I have included prices as they vary quite a bit with this bunch of apps.


Groove Coaster, $2.99 - A roller coaster rhythm game, you really have to see it in motion to get why it is so fun.
http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/groove-coaster/id442689429?mt=8

image via: http://applenapps.com/review/wreck-this-app-wonderfully-unique
Wreck This App, $4.99 - A digital activity book that encourages you to be "destructive", app version of the book.
http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/wreck-this-app

image via:
http://thenextweb.com/apps/2011/09/28/bobo-explores-light-is-perhaps-the-most-fun-kids-can-have-learning-on-the-ipad/
Bobo Explores Light, $4.99 - An interactive, exciting book about light, lasers, even bioluminescence.
http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/bobo-explores-light


image via: http://www.capsulecomputers.com.au/2010/10/cut-the-rope-review/
Cut the Rope, $0.99 - Cut the Rope: Experiments, $3.99 - Cut the rope to deliver the candy to Om Nom.  Physics based game play.
http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/cut-the-rope
http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/cut-the-rope-experiments

image via: http://iansands.blogspot.com/2012/09/my-three-favorite-ipad-apps-for-art.html
Art Set, $0.99 - Great starter art supplies, various papers and color mediums.
http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/art-set/


image via: http://www.imafulltimemummy.com/post/2011/07/09/iPad-App-Review-Its-Not-What-Youve-Got.aspx
It's Not What You've Got, $3.99 - A digital book with an important message about materialism.
http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/its-not-what-youve-got!


image via: http://www.appsafari.com/games/18230/run-roo-run/
Run Roo Run, $0.99 - An easier version of Scribblenauts, a fun obstacle course game.
http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/run-roo-run

image via: http://itunes.apple.com/au/app/monster-mouth-dds/id454604818?mt=8
Monster Mouth DDS, Free, with $0.99 in app purchase for more monsters. Clean various monster mouths, dental education has never been this fun before.
http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/monster-mouth-dds

image via: http://itunes.apple.com/ie/app/idiary-for-kids-journaling/id424283623?mt=8
iDiary for Kids, $1.99 - Date oriented journal platform for kids. Write or draw whatever they want for each day, includes address book function.
http://itunes.apple.com/ie/app/idiary-for-kids-journaling

image via: http://www.famigo.com/app/richard-galbraiths-cartoon-workshop-1/
Richard Galbraith's Cartoon Workshop 1 and 2, $2.99 each - Learn how to draw cartoons step by step. 72 characters in each version. Let them have pen and paper with this while they learn.
http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/richard-galbraiths-cartoon
http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/richard-galbraiths-cartoon


Resources:
Commonsensemedia.org
itunes.apple.com
Youtube.com http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H4V4LbOSvaE