Finding sanctuary in the storm

As if life isn’t chaotic enough, March brings its own kind of crazy. As poet John Clare observed in the March entry of his “Shepherd’s Calendar”,

“March month of ‘many weathers’ wildly comes,  

In hail and snow and rain and threatning hums.”

When the internal and external climates are swirling, we need a place to take shelter.

Insight Timer has lots of FREE* resources for meditation, motivation, yoga, and relaxation. With many different hosts, there should be someone that matches any mood, goal, or vibe. There are even live sessions, which creates an immediate connection that may be missing in our day-to-day.

* The only payments on Insight Timer are voluntary donations

How to make Self Care fun

Our lives seem to be getting busier and busier. There is much to do, and less time to do it in. Frequently that leads to stress and anxiety as we struggle to fit everything into our day. I know I’m not very good at prioritizing taking care of myself. Hopefully these apps will help make it easier to fit in time for self care.

1. Aloe Bud

Aloe Bud  is an easy way to make sure you’re taking care of yourself every day. The app sends gentle nudges throughout the day, reminding you to drink water, eat, reach out to friends and more. Instead of guilting you if you aren’t doing well, Aloe Bud encourages you to celebrate even the small victories.

You can download Aloe Bud in Apple’s App Store.

2. ToDon’t

The ToDon’t app might sound like the opposite of self-care, but hear me out. The app works on getting you to procrastinate bad habits or what you don’t want to accomplish that day. ToDon’t could potentially help you avoid bad choices like checking social media or letting laundry pile up.

You can download ToDon’t from the App Store or the Play Store

3. Calm

Whether you live with anxiety or just had a busy day, Calm can help you find a few moments in the day to feel peaceful. The app offers hundreds of meditations on topics including anxiety, stress, sleeping, forgiveness, gratitude and more. The sessions range from three to 25 minutes long. The app is free to download, but in-app purchases range from $15-$80.

You can download Calm from the App Store or the Play Store.

4. Lumosity

If you play games to distract yourself or wind down from a long day, this could be for you. Lumosity lets you play games, learn and improve your mind all at once. The app includes puzzles, memory games, logic problems, meditation techniques and more. As you play, you can track your progress while learning your strengths, weaknesses and cognitive patterns.

You can download Lumosity from the App Store

Happy Techsgiving!

It’s November, and November means Thanksgiving. 

In that spirit, I would like to take this time to focus on a few standout pieces of technology that have provided substantial improvements in our lives this year.

  1. The internet. I have become even more grateful for the availability of information and connection that the internet provides. This year we have moved across the country, started new jobs, made new friends, and kept in touch with old ones. All these transitions have been made  easier, and in some cases possible at all, by using the internet. 
  2. Social Networks. No matter where you are or what  interests you have, you can find people that you have things in common with. Communities like FEATT offer advice, friendship, guidance, counsel, and a feeling of belonging.
  3. Apps. As a tech worker with ADHD, I use my phone and computer as tools to help me organize my thoughts and focus my attention. Everything from taking notes and setting reminders, to putting on music and connecting to my customers and colleagues, is done with my phone and computer.

Sometimes it’s hard to see how far we have come. Let’s pause for a few minutes, look back, and appreciate some things that have gotten better.

What tools have you used this year that you are thankful for?

Virtual tools, literal healing.

The world we live in these days is full of virtual meetings and video chats. While there are definitely negatives to the absence of real world contact, there may be situations where it’s actually beneficial.

A recent study at Edith Cowan University in Australia suggests that VR therapy with realistic avatars may be more effective for some people than traditional in-person therapy.

Shane Rogers, PhD and lead author of the study, stated that fifty-two undergraduate psychology students from 18 to 53 years old rated their experiences communicating with an avatar driven by another person wearing motion capture technology.

They engaged in casual getting-to-know-you conversations and were interviewed about positive and negative experiences.

The researchers compared the avatar conversations to face-to-face conversations and found that about 30% of participants felt more comfortable disclosing negative experiences in virtual reality compared to face-to-face.

“This indicates that for a substantial proportion of people, this mode of communication might be quite useful for psychological therapy,” Rogers said. “We are currently doing more research to further investigate that.”

What do you think? Would it be easier for you to express yourself in a virtual environment?

For more information check out this story from PsychCentral,

Link to the full study:

Keeping up with disability news and research

We don’t know what we don’t know, and when it comes to different physical and mental abilities, there are new breakthroughs in research every day. Where can we go to hear about the latest and greatest news and research?

I want to introduce you to two resources that will you keep up to date on the latest educational research, less and regulations, and assistive technology breakthroughs.

IRIS Center

Iris is at the forefront of special education research. They also have many free educational courses, such as Assistive Technology: An Overview.

Also check out their resources page. It’s an extensive compilation of modules, case study units, activities, and Web-based tools. IRIS | Resources

GAATES Global Accessibility News

GAATES gathers relevant news about accessibility from around the world. Everything from regulations aimed at providing access and opportunities to disabled people, to new technologies and research. If you’re interested in what’s happening in the world of accessibility, this is the place to go.

I hope this helps some of you on your journey of learning about the progress being made toward a more inclusive world.


Our family had the opportunity to see the Grand Canyon in person this summer. While pictures can never capture the majesty of that place, seeing it through Google Earth may be the next best thing. Visit Grand Canyon National Park

The other side of noise

I recently shared some ideas for how to use noise to be more productive. But what if you need quiet? Let’s look at passive and active noise canceling. 

We have a pair of passive earmuffs for my son, who has Sensory Processing Disorder. When he first got them he called them “quiet earmuffs” and the name kind of stuck. They are very effective for him when things get loud, and they provide a feeling of safety, knowing they are there if he needs them. This has allowed him to be more confident and adventurous.

Passive noise canceling have a closed ear cup that goes over the entire ear. They work by physically blocking the incoming sound waves. They are typically bulky and heavier than other headphones, but they are inexpensive and easy to use.

Active noise canceling works by using a microphone to detect incoming sound.  It then sends an opposing sound wave to the headphones speaker to cancel it out. The effectiveness of active noise canceling can vary depending on the manufacture, and quality active noise canceling headphones can be expensive. However, they can also be much smaller and lighter, like Apple AirPods Pro. Active noise canceling can also be turned off, allowing the user to hear what is going on around them while still wearing the headphones. 

So if you need a quiet place sometimes, take a look at these options. You are sure to find something that will work for you.

See the world, stay at home. VR experiences for the traveling challenged.

VR has been around for a long time. We have heard the promises, listened to the dreams, and in the end, it hasn’t been all it was cracked up to be.


With a worldwide pandemic where travel is limited and many destinations are closed, has VRs time finally come? What about those of us who are limited in the amount of travel we can do, or have other issues that prevent us from physically going to the natural and cultural landmarks that make our planet such a rich place?

The first thing you will need is a VR headset. For a decent viewing experience, it’s actually quite affordable. A simple device like the Google Cardboard headset will do just fine, pairs with a cell phone you already have, and costs as little as $15. There are other, more expensive, headsets that work better for gaming or other, richer, VR experiences, but for simply viewing famous landmarks and other cell phone based VR, Cardboard works just fine. 

So what is out there to look at?

Google Earth is a great place to start. Here is a short list of places to check out: 

  • Ducie Island
  • Your home
  • New York/Statue of Liberty
  • Meteor Crater
  • Sedan Crater (the aftermath of the Sedan nuclear test)
  • Theme Parks
  • Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (you can go to the ground on a 1:1 scale and stand on this statue)
  • Mt. Fuji
  • The Great Barrier Reef
  • Rome / The Colosseum
  • Palace of the Sun King in Versailles
  • Shibuya in Tokyo

This should be a good start. I’ll be back with more VR experiences in the future. Remember, just because we are at home doesn’t mean we can’t explore!

Black History Month IS American History

Not gonna get super political around here, but I frequently see comments like “Why do we celebrate Black History Month and not Japanese or (insert country here) month? Doesn’t this stuff divide our country even more?”

It’s not something I’m proud of, but I used to be one of them.

First of all, May is Asian/Pacific Heritage Month. Irish-American Heritage is in March. So false premise already, but let’s continue.

Start by asking, “Why don’t we have Ethiopian History Month or Congo History month, or celebrate holidays and events from African cultures? People from those countries helped build America as much (if not more) as any other.”

Because the Black/African peoples were stripped of their national heritage, identity, culture, and traditions, even their humanity, when they arrived. We (meaning American slavers and slave owners) took everything from them. When they were freed, they had nothing, we gave them nothing back. No families, no culture or community to gain strength and fellowship from. They could only belong to one group, based on the one thing that slavery’s couldn’t take away, and was even the thing we used to define and denigrate them, their skin color.

We can’t just say “Be Americans, isn’t that enough?” No, it’s not. This country was built on and with people and cultures from all over the world. Except African. Except Black people.

Black History Month is part of an effort to give that culture and history and belonging back. Their holidays and accomplishments and culture deserve to be celebrated and incorporated into our own American culture just as much as everyone else’s, probably more because so much was taken from them. If you don’t want other cultures celebrated, don’t recognize St. Patrick’s Day, or Halloween, or Cinco de Mayo, do anything that recognizes Japanese or Chinese New Year, anything that involved Fireworks, or any other events that came to us from other cultures. If you do celebrate those and continue to complain about recognizing Black Culture, then you need to take a look inward and figure out why. Spend some time learning about Black history, join in the celebrations, and try and move yourself closer to the people who had everything taken from them, not make them move toward you.

We cut them out in the past. Unless we make black culture and history as much a part of America as everyone else’s, they will continue to be separated. Black culture is already in America, it’s up to us to educate ourselves about it. If we don’t, we (white people) are the ones creating separation and division by not being educated about our countries past. Slavery isn’t our fault, but it is our responsibility.

Thank you for making it though this. Typed on mobile, so please forgive any typos.

Change starts with me. I am ignorant in a lot of areas. It’s something I can improve on. I WILL improve on.

Bringing everyone to the table.

For families with a mixture of motor and communications abilities, the classic tradition of gathering around a table and playing games can be difficult. Here are some games that are fun for everyone and accessible across a wide range of abilities.

ThinkFun Roll & Play: 

    This game is designed to encourage creativity, active play and gross motor skills. Roll the large soft cube, and perform the activity that’s on the card with the matching color. A great opportunity to all be silly together! You can even create your own actions, just make your own cards!


    Practice spelling without having to hold a writing utensil. It’s like Scrabble, but with fewer rules! Plus, it comes in a fun zip up banana bag, so bonus!

You can also find a braille version of bananagrams and other games and game pieces at

Trouble: Dice games can be difficult for folks with limited fine motor skills. Trouble solves this by having the dice inside a dome that you push down. It pops us and rolls the dice for you! Also, no losing the dice! Hooray!

Rory’s Story Cubes: 

    These little cubes help introduce kids to storytelling without the hurdle of pen and paper. Roll the dice, and create a story around what comes up! Fun for adults also!


While this classic game is known and loved around the world, it can be hard to grab and manipulate those little blocks! Fortunately there are sets with larger blocks, which are much easier to get a hold of.

Hopefully this list helps bring everyone to the table for some fun!

For a master list of games and their grades on different accessibility scales, check out Meeple Like Us.

Sounds can improve health and concentration.

For people with sensory and attention issues, focusing on tasks is a major problem. We are frequently sidetracked by intrusive thoughts and “shiny” objects as our brain desperately seeks out stimulation. It’s not laziness or as simple as being easily distracted, our bodies do not reward our brains for getting things done like other people do. Most peoples focus is based on what is important, our brains focus based on how interesting something is.

One thing that can help is providing supplemental stimulation. Something that can fill in the stimulation gap between what we are doing and what our brains need. Here are some tools that I have found success with, and I think will help others.

Background music. 

I find that music that doesn’t have lyrics works best. The genre is up to personal preference. For me Electronica, Instrumental Metal, and Lo-Fi House music works great. Others may prefer Classical or Jazz. For me, that doesn’t provide enough stimulation, but everyone’s brain is different, so find something that works for you.

Nature sounds/White Noise.

    There are lots of options out there, but one I particularly like is It provides highly customizable soundscapes, and you can even save them once you get them just the way you want. You can also load soundscapes that others have made. They have apps for Android and iOS, so you can take your happy place anywhere! Studies have shown that nature sounds can even improve health outcomes, so there are benefits beyond additional focus. Others, like, also provide mindfulness features. I was sceptical of mindfulness for a long time, but I have found it highly beneficial over the last few years.

Hopefully this helps you live a more peaceful and successful life! Please let us know if any of these tips helps you, I love to hear that something I suggested has helped someone. If you have your own tools that help you focus, please let me know. I like to try new things, and am happy to share tools that help people succeed!