I am a first year Occupational Therapy student. I came to OT through a whirlwind of exploration through a few MANY different fields, but ultimately, I was led to the profession through my involvement as a gymnastics coach in Carlsbad, CA. I was a gymnast at UCLA ('01-'05) who studied Psychology and Education, and even though I'm now a student at USC (major cross-town rival!), I still hold on tight to my Bruin Pride!
I am hoping to go into the area of Pediatrics (specifically, Early Intervention), and I am passionate about being a part of bringing the worlds of OT and gymnastics closer together. We both have so much good to offer our children!
I love to write. I love to learn. I love to flip.
I'm looking forward to becoming a dynamic part of this amazing profession of Occupational Therapy!
When I graduated from OT school this past May, my Dad offered to buy me an iPad2 as a graduation gift. He thought that maybe I would be able to use it in my work with kids with special needs as I drove to and from clients' homes and saw them in the clinic. I decided it would be a good investment, so a few hours after I received my Master's degree in Occupational Therapy, we headed over to the Apple store and picked out my shiny new toy.
In the months since that purchase, I've thought to myself that one of the many things I could do with the iPad is use it in therapy. Since we Pediatric Occupational Therapists often work with children with limitations in the areas of fine motor skills, problem solving, cognition, motor planning, handwriting, body awareness, self-care, feeding, sensory processing, and more; all of these areas can be addressed in part or whole through the use of the iPad.
As I've been getting ready to go back to work in a few weeks (I recently had a baby), I've started downloading tons of apps on my iPad that I think could be useful with my pediatric clients. I downloaded 20 or so apps and then, wouldn't you know it, I heard that 60-Minutes was going to be airing a special on how the iPad and its apps have revolutionized the lives of people with autism. I guess I've been on the right track!
You can click here to watch the 13-minute piece that encouraged millions as it aired last night (October 23rd), titled, "Apps for Autism."
I thought it might be helpful if I posted a list of useful links for tracking down apps that can help people with autism. If you're like me, you probably want your library of information to be organized so that, in the future, you can easily find what you're looking for. So here I present to you The List. It's long, but I'm sure there are lots of links out there that I don't know about (and perhaps there will be even more added to the world wide web now that 60 Minutes has put autism and the iPad in the spotlight). If you know of other links, apps, or research being done to enhance the usability of apps for people with autism, please make your contribution in the comment box below! (And since I'm a Pediatric OT, I'm very interested in apps that would be great for kids!)
*Please note that I am not endorsing the following links; I am simply sharing them. If you have positive or negative things to say about any of them, please respectfully share them in the comments section below. Thanks!
. . .
Sue's Favorite Autism Apps: http://independentclinician.com/autism-apps/
Apps for Children with Special Needs: http://a4cwsn.com/
Alphabet Zoo: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/alphabet-zoo/id416075232?mt=8
iPad Apps for Autism: A Spreadsheet of Reviews and Recommendations (VERY comprehensive, organized, and consistently updated): http://www.squidalicious.com/2011/01/ipad-apps-for-autism-spreadsheet-of.html
Inov8: There's a Special App for That: http://www.inov8-ed.com/category/special-app-for-that/
Autism and the iPad: http://autismandtheipad.blogspot.com/
Evolve iPad Enclosure (makes your iPad nearly indestructible and allows you to lock the app you're in so a client can't go into and out of programs willy nilly): http://www.ipadenclosures.com/ipad_kiosk_enclosure/ipad_enclosures/evolve
iTherapy: Speech Therapy for Autism: http://www.proactivespeechtherapy.com/
Smurks (expressing emotions): http://smurks.net/
Verbally Premium (a text-t0-speech app reviewed by iAutism): http://www.iautism.info/en/2011/10/08/review-verbally-premium/
Let's join together as we continue in our work to help people with autism grow in their independence and their ability to function and THRIVE in this world!
Christie, I like your enthusiasm. Personally I am using my iPhone for the same purpose in my FW. I use stuff from metronome to puzzles to handwriting apps. I am amazed at how both the iPhone and iPad can be such useful tools in therapy.
As I have learned personally, autism is quite an interesting diagnosis. On the high end, there's someone like me, as you have known me for 2+ years now. On the low end, there's someone like my distant cousin (whom my relatives suggest that he should go to a mental health hospital because he could be a danger to himself and others). Then, there's everything in between.
I believe that OT is going the right direction in the things you mention- grow in independence, ability to function, and thrive in this world. Our thing is that we got to do is to educate caregivers who might not know too well about what we could do and what we are looking for. Otherwise, we could be doing the right things in theory and rules and regulations wise for the individual (child or adult). But, nagging caregivers could give us headaches.
Of course, hopefully those with autism who benefited from OT can become the profession's allies- not only in advocating for the profession, but also educate students and professionals to further improve in OT's ability in helping these individuals.
Thanks for these resources,
Barbara Smith,M.S., OTR/L
I hope you don't mind me putting a pitch in for the apps from my company. We have two apps for families of kids with autism: SymTrend ADL enables families to record about their child's performance of dressing, eating, grooming, sleeping, and toileting and to note when sensory sensitivities interfere with those activities (find out more at www.symtrend.com/adl). No More Meltdowns enables them to do A-B-C recording about challenging behaviors and their triggers (www.symtrend.com/nmm). These apps are available on the iTunes store.
I've also developed e-diaries for OTs to record about the treatments they are doing, sensory sensitivities, and the impact of sensory-based treatments. If any of you want to use your device to record about your treatment sessions or observations of children, I'm making the system available to clinicians free to test out for one of their clients. Contact me at the email address below.
We also have an "authoring tool" to customize self-monitoring/self-management tools for individuals on the high end of the spectrum. Check out a description of them at: www.symtrend.com/.../public_docviewer
If you want to use something like that with a kid in transition, they can download the SymTrend app from the iTunes store for free and spend a bit of extra money customizing it for their needs.
Minna Levine, Ph.D., OTR/L