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Archive for the ‘education’ Category

Grover

Image via Wikipedia

One of the first apps I got on my son’s iPad was something I wanted for myself. The Monster at the End of This Book was one of my favorite books growing up.  When I saw it was at the iPad store, and it still had Grover, and not Elmo (which they had when my daughter was the age for this), I had to download it!

It keeps true to story, and is interactive in a seamless, appropriate manner.  It encourages the child to be involved in the story, in subtle ways. If they still don’t get what to do on a page, Grover will hint, building up the hints until the work is done.  He does it in a way, though, that suits the story. “Whatever you do, don’t touch that. Not that corner over there. That will make the page turn. You don’t want to turn the page!” Things like that, and maybe a bit of a flicker or flash to show where the child should touch.

My son is completely non-verbal, and can’t really read much at all.  He’s never been interested in reading, either.  He’ll look at I Spy books, or flip through something with a character he likes, but not much more than that.  After a while, though, Ted would read along with the book, running his finger under each word as it was said. Each word comes on the page one at a time as Grover says it, and he’s really starting to learn the relationship between what is said and what the word looks like. That interaction is probably helping him read more than the constant drilling we’ve done over the years in school, in therapy, and in the home.  He reads it every night before going to bed.  He also is engaged with it more than most other apps, without perseverating on it, reading it over and over for hours on end.  It’s also made a great reward for his educators and his therapists, because he will work for enough stars to have time with this app.

I’ve seen a number of children’s e-books, and apps based on children’s books. This is probably our favorite, and save for a handful of others, one of the better crafted ones. You can tell that not only did the software developers know what they were doing, educators and other professionals who know about development of literacy skills and children were involved. All the little touches not only make this app more enjoyable, but are a great way to help an emerging reader.

This award-winning app is $3.99 at the Apple App  store.

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We finally got Ted an iPad, primarily for use as an AAC device, but we knew there were other apps out there that might be useful.  We’ve found autism related apps, educational apps, some really fun apps for rewards, and lots of communication apps.  We also found a fantastic case for it, too!

It’s a shame that insurance does not cover these. An AAC device starts at around 3k.  An iPad with a good case, good AAC software, and some other apps? About 1k.  But the insurance would rather pay 3k and up, because those devices are for communication only.  Heaven forbid someone has something that can be used for things other than the intended purpose. They’d rather throw money away. No wonder premiums are so high.  Insurance companies will not use common sense when it comes to deciding what to pay, and what not to pay.

I hope to be reviewing some of the apps we’re using.  The whole experience is a real game changer. It’s made an impressive difference in my son’s life.

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I made this video today, based on actual conversations over the years.

http://www.xtranormal.com/site_media/players/jwplayer.swfhttp://www.xtranormal.com/site_media/players/embedded-xnl-stats.swf

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Using the word “retarded” casually as an insult is highly offensive. People with developmental delays and other disabilities face many forms of discrimination and abuse, and language like that makes it easier for them to be victimized. Those who use the word not only look stupid, but can really hurt their audience.

“Don’t get retarded with me, answer your phone!”

“Why are you giving me detention, that’s retarded!”

“Those shoes make you look like a retard.”

Day in, and day out, people use the word retarded as an insult. The reality is, every day, people have to live with the medical diagnosis of mental retardation (“Intellectual Disability / Mental,” 2005). They deserve more respect than to be reduced to a disparaging term in the streets, on playgrounds, in offices. They are human beings who are the target of much discrimination, and deserve more respect than what they have been given. To use this word in a derogatory manner can be just as harmful as using the word “gay” as an insult – just ask the mothers of two eleven year old boys how harmful that can be, those two boys in two different states, on two different days, that hung themselves when they were called “gay” over and over again (Blow, 2009).

Every day, people with developmental disabilities are denied many rights and privileges we take for granted. We can choose our chores at home, when we can have visitors or get phone calls. Some in group housing don’t get that luxury, according to Caren Durnst, a supervisor in a group-housing setting. We can chose our own job, and work for a decent wage. Those deemed disabled enough to qualify for certain benefits needed to live independently can only work for limited amounts of money, or they loose their support network; in fact, they aren’t even allowed to have more than meager savings(“SS Resources,” 2009). Those who work in ‘sheltered workshops’ can legally be paid less than minimum wage (Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), 2009). They can be put into classrooms isolated from their peers, denied access to classes they might enjoy,and discouraged from real academic pursuits (“Program Criteria: Special,” n.d.). In Bertha, MN, a thirteen year old autistic boy was forbidden by the courts to go to Mass at his local Roman Catholic Church. When his mother got in the car to take him, the county Sheriff met her to tell her that she would be arrested if she took her son to Mass (Pabst, 2008). Perhaps the worst of all, some are denied medical care (U.S. Public Health Service, 2001, p. 28). The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists even has guidelines as to under what circumstances you can sterilize a disabled person (“Sterilization of Women”, 2007 p. 2).

Despite all this, many people with developmental disabilities and cognitive difficulties live full and independent lives. They work, they play, they love, they marry (Kaufman, 1988/1999 ). They do what they can despite their intellectual limitations. So what do you mean when you call something retarded? It works hard? It struggles and tries its best to overcome obstacles? If you call someone a retard does that mean they are someone who works hard in school even without the support they need? Probably not.

The current campaign, “Change the Conversation” (The R-word, n.d.), makes us all too aware how much those who are mentally retarded understand what is meant when it is used as an insult. They have a voice, and they are speaking clearly. If anyone uses the excuse that “they” don’t care if it is used as an insult, “they” do. For people without cognitive difficulties why is it so hard to understand how people with MR (mental retardation) feel about it? When you use a word like this, you objectify people. “Retards” aren’t people anymore. They’re objects. They are no longer human (Special Olympics and the Center for Social Development and Education, Gallup Organization, Research and Evaluation Services of Northern Ireland, & Center for Survey Research, n.d.). It builds up, and gets easier and easier to toss those words around. The less important you think it is, the more affected you’ve been by that word. The less important we all think it is, the easier it is to discriminate and abuse those who are developmentally disabled. It’s easier to deny them a seat in a science class, or not give them a chance in the workplace. Why? Because we’ve reduced the to sub-human level, and do not have to treat them like we’d treat a ‘normal’ person. The more the “r-word” is used, the more degraded they are, and the more acceptable it is to treat them like so much garbage.

Using this kind of language is poor English, period. Those who use that word risk the look of looking uneducated, lower class, cruel, and unsophisticated (Bendersky, 2009 ). Studies show that even children look down upon peers who use the word, even if they are not willing to speak out(Harris Interactive, Special Olympics Global Collaborating Center at the University of Massachusetts Boston, & Special Olympics, n.d.). Using those words makes a bad impression. Those words used in the wrong context hurt a lot of people. First of all, the person being called retarded, whether or not they are, knows what the name-caller means by it. Those who are experiencing those disabilities can feel hurt too (The R-word, n.d.) . There is also pain to those who love them, who feel protective of their family and friends. Doesn’t everyone feel protective of those they love? Those that use the word become bullies, picking on those who they perceive as inferior to them. They can only see their privileged world view where the only way to live is as a ‘normal’ person with no disabilities, no problems (Byrne, 2000, pp. 45-72). To them, the only life worth living is one without “being retarded”.

There are plenty of reasons not to use “the R-Word”. Think for a minute of one very simple one. Every time that word is used in front of me, personally, I die a little inside. I am wounded by the words of people who think my son, the light of my life, is a person of less value than anyone else. So please, don’t use words that describe very real people as insults.

References

Bendersky, A. (2009, April 1). That’s retarded. You’re so gay. Is either ok? Message posted to http://hottopics.gay.com/2009/03/thats-retarded-youre-so-gay-is-either-ok.html Blow, C. M. (2009, April 24).

Two little boys. Message posted to http://blow.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/04/24/two-little-boys/

Byrne, P. (2000). Philosophical and ethical problems in mental handicap. Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave Macmillan.

Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), 29 U.S.C. § 8 (2009), http://www.dol.gov/elaws/esa/flsa/14c/.

Harris Interactive, Special Olympics Global Collaborating Center at the University of Massachusetts Boston,, & Special Olympics. (n.d.). R-Word campaign [Survey Results]. Retrieved April 23, 2009, from University of Massachusetts, Center for Social Development & Education (CSDE) Web site: http://www.csde.umb.edu/rs_r_word.html

Intellectual disability / mental retardation. (2005, October 29). Developmental disabilities [Article]. Retrieved April 29, 2009, from Department of Health and Human Services, Center for Disease Control and Prevention Web site: http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/dd/ddmr.htm

Kaufman, S. Z. (1999). Retarded isn’t stupid, Mom! (2nd ed.). Baltimore: Paul H. Brookes. (Original work published 1988) Pabst, L. (2008, May 19).

After warning, family of autistic teen attends different church. Star Tribune. Retrieved April 29, 2009, from http://www.startribune.com/lifestyle/faith/19059069.html

Program criteria: Special class programs, secondary, and vocational rehabilitation. (n.d.). Self-contained special education classes [Criteria for placement]. Retrieved April 25, 2009, from Newark Public Schools Web site: http://www.nps.k12.nj.us/Special%20Education/Training%20Modules/Spe.%20Ed%20Programs/Self%20Contained%20Classes.htm

The r-word [Campaign to end use of “The R-Word”]. (n.d.). Retrieved April 22, 2009, from The Special Olympics/ Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr. Foundation Web site: http://www.r-word.org/

Special Olympics and the Center for Social Development and Education, Gallup Organization, Research and Evaluation Services of Northern Ireland, & Center for Survey Research. (n.d.). Multinational study of attitudes toward individuals with intellectual disabilities [Research results]. Retrieved April 22, 2009, from Special Olympics Web site: http://info.specialolympics.org/Special+Olympics+Public+Website/English/Initiatives/Research/Attitude_Research/Multinational+Study.htm

SS resources. (2009, April 28). Understanding supplemental security income [Fact Sheet]. Retrieved April 29, 2009, from Social Security Administration Web site: http://www.ssa.gov/ssi/text-resources-ussi.htm

Sterilization of women, including those with mental disabilities [Monograph]. (2007). ACOG Committee Opinion, (Serial No. 371). U.S. Public Health Service. (2001, February).

Closing the gap : a national blueprint to improve the health of persons with mental retardation (D. Alexander, Ed.). Rockville, MD.

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I think I posted a while back about the nonsense they presented as sex ed to my daughter.  False information about condoms, and made the girls responsible for everything, like they were dirty whores, and if they should get pregnant, they should give it up.  Sounded like a plan to get more cute white babies for adoption, to be honest.  (Another pro-life organization in Dubuque is very good at getting help for women who want to continue their pregnancy, and I respect them for that.)

Well now, on 105.3, they ran a radio ad where they said RU-486 was the Morning After Pill, and that you should come to THEM for the truth.

I’m checking with the FCC about filing a complaint (filled one out on the website), and anywhere else that handles lying during advertising.  And to think the Dubuque Community Schools financially supports them in their endeavors.

They lied to our children and now they are lying to us.  This HAS to stop.

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My son came home waving a piece of paper, on school (not district) letterhead.  This was from the school counsellor, who explained everything clearly, and in detail.  This was very reassuring, and it was given so we could talk to our children, it encouraged us to do so honestly and openly.

Furthermore, he left the door open for more questions.  I like this man and his approach.  Now that I learned that the incident was ten minutes long, something the newspaper did not mention, I feel more comfortable with the fact that they did not call.

I still believe my son is in EXCELLENT hands and will be sad when he gradutes from that wonderful and nurturing environment.

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TH – Local News Article.

One of those is my son’s school. Don’t you think they should call the parents and let us know, give us a head’s up? If only to deal with the possible emotional ramifications of it all?

I mean, I dealt with having my daughter in school on 9/11, in Brooklyn. And she wasn’t near it, so of course that helped a little bit.  But this (the Dubuque incident) was right there, and they had good reason to be concerned.  But now parents have to help their kids process it.

If they told the kids, they may be rattled. If the kids see it in the paper and they were NOT told, they’ll feel betrayed by the adults who take care of them in school. Either way, parents and guardians have to deal with this.

I hope they at least have a note going home with them, in case some parents didn’t get the news by time they see their children.

I love that school and wouldn’t change, but I would have liked to be in the loop.

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