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.
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
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!
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.
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.
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 https://mynoise.net/. 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 Calm.com, 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!
Technology can be anything, and can help with anything.
When we think about technology, we usually picture something with a screen, flashing lights and buttons. In reality, technology can be anything that helps us to do a job. It is defined as “the application of scientific knowledge for practical purposes”.
Universal Design is about creating an environment that meets the needs of everyone, not just the average human. It’s about designing from the ground up to provide people with different abilities the ability to reach equal results. It’s about being flexible, thoughtful, and inclusive.
We mostly focus on practical usage of technology, but let’s not forget that fun and play are an equally important part of our lives. People can feel left out when their friends play games, but the controllers are too complex for disabled people to use. To help with that, Microsoft created the Xbox Adaptive Controller. https://www.xbox.com/en-US/accessories/controllers/xbox-adaptive-controller This device is an excellent example of universal design. It is flexible, customizable, and allows people with different abilities to play games on an Xbox or PC. If you, or someone you know, could use a little more fun in their lives, give it a look. There isn’t much out there that competes for price and flexibility.
For more information, check out https://ablegamers.org/. They provide personal and financial support, and work to create a better environment for gamers of all kinds.
As parents to a special needs son, my wife and I have struggled with the right way to teach him the things he needs to learn. One of the things that really holds his attention is electronics. How did we determine how much screen time is right for our child? The same way we measured everything else that he consumed. We question if it is providing a healthy benefit, or is it just empty calories, to be consumed sparingly.
Different abilities require different tools. Screens are a tool that we can use to improve our lives. Our son has sensory processing disorder and cognitive verbal delay. Typical verbal and written lessons are more challenging for him than for most kids. Educational apps on his iPad and shows on Netflix allow him to learn at his own pace, and repeat lessons as much as he needs to without testing the patience of a teacher or classmates.
Using these tools, and with help and encouragement from his teachers, he has advanced past grade level in several subjects. We can attribute his progress directly to his guided use of technology. Just like any tool, not all screens are the same, and if used correctly they can help produce great work. It’s how you use them that makes all the difference. To bring it back around to the food analogy, we are happy to let him consume healthy content that helps him grow.