I recently got an iPhone (for $49.00 – if you want to know how, leave me a comment and I’ll tell you what I got that price!). There were two main reasons I got it and they are as follows:
- I met a mom on twitter who has two children with autism and she and her husband created two iPhone applications specifically for children like my son Tyler and I was dying to try one of them. (more on that below)
- There are many different grocery store applications, bar scanning apps, and all kinds of organizational apps that can help you with shopping, couponing, price tracking, organization, etc. that are only available on the iPhone. Little did I know that NONE of them are perfect and I’m frustrated with them all right now but that’s another post for another time! lol
First, let me explain how this came about. My son, Ty has been having trouble for quite awhile, regressing in many areas, and in others, he seems to be at a roadblock of sorts. This is happening despite being homeschooled and having constant attention from myself and his grandmother. I was told when he was younger that he may get to a point where he would stop progressing but I’m not ready to give up! So I decided that in order for him to have a chance at ever being self sufficient and living on his own (or living with me without me losing my mind!), I had to come up with a tool to help him with his daily living skills, etc.
Since Ty is a visual learner, I decided to take what I learned in his birth to three program (Holly Ridge – EXCELLENT Non Profit!), special ed preschool and the first few years of being in a self contained classroom in public school and that was to try to create visual storyboards and reminder signs everywhere to help him remember what to do in every possible scenario in the home. This sounded easy enough because I remember what the teacher’s used but now that he is 12 and I’m not a teacher with school funding to buy a program like boardmaker, etc., it’s been a constant source of frustration and stress. I tried to do it on my own but I cannot seem to find clip art that is cool enough for a 12 year old who still needs the basic visual reminders…I’m so grateful that Ty is high functioning and knows what’s cool for his age (to some extent) but on the hand, it makes it more difficult to create these things! I’m not THAT creative!
And to be honest, even after 12 years of knowing that Tyler has autism and knowing what that could possibly mean for him for his life, I realized during my research online about how to create visual aids for people with autism and seeing JUST HOW “different-abled” he is or could be, I felt literally sick to my stomach and started to panic. I HAD to turn off the computer and get busy with something else. I cannot allow myself to think about it in detail for too long. I thought I had accepted the realities and mourned the “change” to my hopes and dreams for him but it hit me square upside the head that obviously, I still have a long way to go.
Secretly, without telling anyone, I still believe(d) until just recently (and I still hope), that this is all a big mistake and that he will “outgrow” all of this and grow up to be a perfectly neurotypical person who gets a great education, a job that makes him happy, finds someone to love and has a life full of good health, happiness and love. Well it’s not a secret anymore now is it?
I am trying to come to grips with it but even now, after all these years, I’ve been denying it to myself at some level and I have no idea how long it will take me to figure it all out. All I know is that I have to hope for the best and keep trying no matter what.
So, now let’s talk about the iPhone application that is helping us tremendously! It’s called iRewards. Here is the review I posted about it on Apple/iTunes:
“I can’t say enough about iRewards! It is absolutely the best thing I’ve found for my son Ty, (and my own sanity)! Ty’s behavior issues, lack of self control, his “learned” shirking of responsibility, inability to understand that his choices = consequences, as well as his processing and memory problems are some of the biggest issues we face all day, every day, in our home. However, iRewards is quickly beginning to help us with these issues!
One of the greatest benefits for us while using iRewards is that it is helping my son control his behavior when we are out in public, running errands, etc. For example, if he sees something in a store that he wants and cannot have, all I have to do is pull up the app on the phone, show him the stars he needs to earn (and keep) and he sees the picture of the reward right there below the starts and immediately he either calms down, or at the very least I can see him trying desperately to control himself. Before we found iRewards, he would go straight into a total meltdown. What is even better is that we are focusing on positive reinforcement and he feels SO PROUD when he earns a reward! (I do take away stars for serious issues but I try to focus on the positive). It is building his self esteem and teaching him that he CAN do things he didn’t think he could.
Anyone who has a child with a disability such as autism (especially at this age), would probably agree that is is SO difficult to find a tool, teaching method, etc., that actually works for more than a day or two, or at all! I’ve become so disappointed over the years with failed methods or tools that may work for some but just didn’t work for Ty and now, the fact that I can see how using iRewards with my son is actually helping HIM learn, change and control himself, is a huge victory for us.
One of the best features is the ability to completely customize the app for yourself. So no matter what age or skill level someone is at, you can choose the behavior or action you want, how many stars will be needed to earn it and use any picture you want to show the reward! It is great that you can go in and change one if it needs tweaking too!
While I use this mainly for my son with autism, I’ve also started to use it with my (neurotypical) teenager just so I can keep track of whether or not he has done his chores before letting him go out, etc. It truly can be adapted to be used by anyone! If you get creative, I would imagine that you could even use it to motivate a spouse (lol).
Seriously though, I am so grateful for this app and cannot wait to share it with other parents that I know. I will say that the most difficult part for me was being creative and coming up with behaviors/actions that I wanted Ty to learn and choosing how many times (stars) he needs to do something to earn a reward. Also, choosing a reward that is fitting and interesting to him at his age is challenging for me because everything he wants costs money.
I highly recommend this app for both children with autism, ASD, ADHD, etc. If at first you think it looks like it was created for only younger children, don’t let that stop you from trying it! There is absolutely nothing like it out there for persons with a disability such as this. Kudos to the creators of this app! I would love to talk to others who use it to share ideas for rewards at different age levels, etc.”
- iCommunicate – http://grembe.moonfruit.com/#/icommunicate/4534568182
- iRewards – http://grembe.moonfruit.com/#/ireward/4534968933