Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Tray table covers

Hi Friends,
Happy Halloween eve! I have another find to share with everyone. Thanks again to my preschool pal Gail for this one. We were at a preschool meeting discussing tactile books for our preschool kiddos as well something for our kiddos in wheelchairs. Gail remembered a nice little tray cover  and shared it with me.
It is available via Abilitations for a pretty decent price. If you are also looking at this picture and feeling inspired, I bet you could make some pretty sweet variations yourself. In the mean time, here's the info to order these little tray table covers.
Website: http://store.schoolspecialty.com/OA_HTML/ibeCCtpItmDspRte.jsp?minisite=10021&item=2000787
If the link doesn't work, go to store.schoolspecialty.com. Abilitations is a subserve of School Specialty. It took me a few attempts to find from the link that Gail gave me so be patient. Finally when I entered "Feelyz tray covers", I found it.

Product Details from the Abilitations website:
Fits Right Over Your WheelChair Tray. These tactile, colorful, touchable tray covers were designed by the mother of two special needs children with vision and hearing loss. FeelyzTrayCovers will awaken a child's senses but is especially appealing to children who rely on their sense of touch to understand their world. Each cover is brightly colored with constrasting balck, red and white colors and is made of soft, tactile and auditory and manipulative blocks of material. Cover measures 20" (51cm) across, 20" (51cm) from edge to elbow rest and 15" (38cm) from edge to center curve. Features elastic backing to secure onto your existing tray. Surface clean. Two to a set. Abilitations.

Sensory Solutions / Tactile / Pressure Solution
Sold as Set of 2
Designed by experts, perfect for use at home or the classroom
From the award winning Abilitations line of Special Needs Solutions
Short Name: Cover Feelyz Tray Set Of 2

Additional Information
Item #1327590
NIGP CODE 78500000
91327590825; 91327590977; 91327590167; 91327590; 1327590; 1327590167 

Sunday, October 28, 2012

AT Resource Find

This may be one of several posts since I am off work tomorrow due to the hurricane. I've got lots to catch up on with you--missed you! I was stopped the other day by one of my fab TVI colleagues and she was raving about this AT workshop she attended. She told me that I would have loved the presentation as the  woman was a hoot and had the best little ideas. I want to create a league of us creative ones and come up with our own "Avengers". Wouldn't that be so fun? A resource pool of all of us. Just a side note....

Gail handed me this book and swore I would love it. I perused through and was giddy with excitement when I saw all the resources! I am no true AT expert but love how user friendly this guide is. The solutions are easy peasy and they even provide a shoppers' guide on where to get the goods. I photographed a few pages to give you a feel of the resource including the contact information. From what I read, I think this is a sweet little AT resource for our kiddos with multiple impairments, MIVI/deafblind, ASD/VI, etc.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Did you know about Disney World?

Hey friends,
I wanted to share with you an email I received directly from Walt Disney World Resort guest services this past week. One of my preschool teachers had asked me about a "disability pass" since I went a few years ago with mom. At Disney, we had a special pass that allowed my mom to enter Disney rides and attractions at alternative points that were more accommodating to her. I went to Disney directly to get more information. Their answer made me smile! Did you know about the Guest Assistance Card? When you look at the Disney site and read accommodations for people with vision impairment, it's kinda generic. You know, the usual descriptive services and Braille, etc. But the Guest Assistance Card is super cool! Are you now dying to know what it is since I am talking it up? Here's direct from Disney themselves the description of the Guest Assistance Card:

"The Guest Assistance Card is a tool provided at all four WALT DISNEY
WORLD Resort Theme Parks to enhance the service we provide to our Guests. It was designed to alert our Cast about those Guests who may need additional assistance. The intent of these cards is to keep Guests from having to explain their service needs each time they visit an attraction. The Guest Assistance Card is available to our Guests with non-apparent, special assistance needs. Depending on a Guest's need, this card may provide a variety of assistance such as allowing Guests to wait in a shaded area or providing admission to our attractions through auxiliary entrances, where applicable. The intention of this card has never been to bypass attraction wait times. A Guest with a specific need for assistance can request a Guest Assistance Card at any Theme Park Guest Relations location upon arrival. A doctor’s note is not required. To accommodate the individual needs of our Guests, we ask that all Guests discuss their assistance requests with a Guest Relations Cast Member prior to the card being issued. The Guest Relations Cast Member will discuss the available service options with the Guest and provide written instructions for our Cast on the Guest Assistance Card. The Guest will be directed to present the Guest Assistance Card to the Greeter or first available Cast Member at the attraction and await further directions for their experience."

I highlighted my favorite parts of the answer in bold. This is great for our kiddos with Albinism and other kinds of vision needs that need to wait in the shade or have issues with transitioning from being in the bright sun light into the dark attractions---so many of our kids' vision issues that are "invisible" but still need accommodations help. 

Like my Disney pic? This is from my mom's 50th birthday party to Disney. We went on her actual birthday (back in 2009). Disney is special to my mom because it was one of the last places she went when she had vision as a kid.  Thought it would be fun to share with everyone!

Have some fun at Disney!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Gear Up for the Holiday Marathoning!

Hi friends!
Can you believe that it is already October? I have a feeling this month is going to fly by so I thought I would get blogging my October thoughts right away. October officially begins our marathon of holidays. There are so many things to do that it can get overwhelming if you don't get organized. I don't want our kiddos to miss a beat so let's start preparing now for the upcoming holidays. 

Holiday think about items:
-Mobility! Where are activities going to be held? What's the layout of the party situation? With Halloween fast approaching, odds are that the lights will be turned way down loooowww with hidden obstacles everywhere! Think flashlights for our younger students. You can probably even get a middle schooler to buy into using a flashlight, too. Don't forget to take the extra second to add a little pizzazz to it! Add some webs or cool stickers to help the flashlight be an accessory; not just a  modification. 

Always remember, when possible allow our kids to get in there and get a preview first (no matter what age). Allow them to walk around with the lights on and get a feel for the layout (earlier that day without their peers so that they can really focus). Haunted houses can be tricky so make sure you don't have a 'fraidy cat sighted guide!

 It might also be a good idea to role play out potential embarrassing situations. For example, they didn't see that gravestone and they tripped over it in front of all their friends. If they will listen to you (ahhh teenagers!), go over some ways they can shake off embarrassing situations--what can they say? what can they look for?

Halloween isn't the only holiday this fall season. Anyone else like to play a little football on Turkey Day? Help get our kids out for that, too! Just so you know, we taught football at one of our weekend programs last year. It was so fun for our kids to be involved in such a popular sport! Some ideas: pick a field that has clear goals lined up or bring some large bright colored cones or flags. Bring a pinny or easy-to-see color hats or tees for your team. Another easy idea is to just have family member who can run close to your kiddo as a guide runner. 

-Kitchen & cooking skills
Well there are just so many opportunities that I don't even know where to begin!!! The most important thing to know is that there is always something your child can do, no matter what the age or ability! The kitchen can sometimes turn into a battle zone with everyone cooking up a storm so there might not be a place for our kids especially those with multiple impairments. You can have them set up, pull out cookie sheets, cookie cutters, ingredients, etc. You can also have them help out at the grocery store by giving them a list (refer back to one of my old posts with picture grocery lists for kiddos that are MIVI, ASD/VI or DB). 

Set up little cooking projects. I love FamilyFun.org so I tend to hit them up for great ideas. You can also have our kids participate in something a little less stressful like breakfast or appetizers. I will keep looking up recipes and ideas to share as part of my special holiday cooking extravaganza.

A few other important things to remember about cooking skills:
-Keep that defined work space. Use a tray, place mat, cutting board, etc. when working. Have your child set up their own work space.
-Keep things to about 3-4 sequential steps especially for kids with multiple impairments and preschoolers. Use calendar boxes and a finished box, too!
-Large print or Braille recipes can be whipped out in a second as long as you take a moment to prepare. Send your recipes to school to get Braille help or read them to your child the day before and have them Braille out the recipes. 
-Try to make it a complete experience--they can buy the food or get all the ingredients out, they make the dish and then they clean it up!!

I'll be back later this week with some recipes that are good ones to get started with. Until then, here's to the start of our marathon of holidays!!!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

A few thoughts on the power of "play"

I recently presented at our annual birth to three in-service. I spent a lot of time researching effective play strategies for our kiddos. Play is the natural course of learning for children. For children with vision impairments, experience is the natural course of learning. How do we create meaningful play? 
image from juniorblind.org
I want to share some of my presentation to help our teams and families create meaningful play time. Our kids need to play but it can be a challenge to have fun, effective play time. 

Here are some of my favorite tips and resources for getting
 playtime off the ground!
  • Allow time for pre-teaching. Our students should be allowed to come to group early and check out the centers/stations, toys, schedule, etc. to help them anticipate the activities
  • Incorporate familiar transitions for our students where possible. You may need to do this 1:1 for students in case there is a group. Make sure you make that transition connection for our kids so that they can anticipate.
  • Incorporate vision modifications to make activities more accessible. For example: contrast, preferential seating, placement of activities, clear pathways, peer buddy helper, etc.
  • Select activities or groups with predictable routines that are familiar. For example, using the clean up song to clean up or jingle bells for transitioning. 
  • Select sites that aren’t over stimulating. Look for visual and/or auditory clutter at stations, carpet and background
  • Encourage parents to get their child involved in lifelong sports:
    • Examples: Swimming, track and field, wrestling, martial arts, crew, skiing, yoga. Music and theater are great alternatives to sports.
  • Possible disadvantages of popular team sports:
    • Difficulty with keeping up visually
    • Social loss & Anxiety
image from nfb.org
For those mommy & me groups or just for when the family is hittin' up a playdate at the park:
Moms, dads, caregivers, create a playdate go bag! A playdate go bag is a portable travel kit that has vision modifications that you can use in a pinch to help your little one out at play dates. I suggest you keep this in your trunk. I used to keep spare clothes, diapers and a blanket for my toddlers in case they needed a quick change due to a diaper explosion in my trunk. This is the same thought process. Sometimes you go to a playdate and it is totally not accessible for our kiddos. This can be a stressful and frustrating feeling. We can eliminate some of that if parents come prepared!
Use a small bag for your playdate go bag. Don't overwhelm yourself! You still need to bring diapers, wipes, toys, etc. so don't get in over your head. Pack items such as: 
-a big black blanket or heavy fabric. Black fabric will help by acting as a place your child can sit on and play. You can also use it to cover up items that may be visually over stimulating. 
-a finished box (or all done box). You know how I feel about finished boxes (they work--use them!!). Remember a 'finished box' doesn't have to be a box. It has to be a place that is meaningful and useful as finished. Can be bag or fold up box. 
-yellow or red painters tape. Sometimes you can use this to quickly highlight something and then remove it when you are done. 
-transition bells or a timer. Use something you can use to help with time management.
-Braille or LP book. Keep 1 or 2 books handy just in case all the kids are sitting down for stories. This way your little one can read too!
-Preferred toy(s). Keep some favorite type of toys handy. Preferably ones that promote turn taking or exchange so your little one can have some social interaction. 
image from extension.unh.edu
Resources that ROCK:

I hope this helps with creating more meaningful playtime for our birth to three population. Hopefully you can hear my full presentation and I can share more ideas on playtime!!