November 1, 2012

So how did you get hooked on iOS anyhow?….

Posted in About Us, Assistive Technology, Autism, iOS at 6:50 PM by kellyvansingel

November 1, 2012…

In August 2010, five months after the initial release of the iPad first generation, my parents showed up at our doorstep with a plastic bag from the apple store. “We thought you could use this…,” they said as they took out a white box marked ‘iPad’ from the bag. We were floored and so excited at the same time. Cue the opening music and credits to our now unfolding real-life docudrama “Van Singel Family iOS: the Experience.”

Prior to this unbelievable gift, we had acquired an iPod touch by using cash back bonus rewards from our Discover Card at Sam’s Club. It opened a new door for the girls, especially Magdalyn. We first knew how powerful these little touch devices were for her when she had outpatient surgery in May 2010, to remove her ear tubes. This was her fourth surgery to either have ear tubes placed or removed. On previous occasions, she had to have sedation medication to just tolerate being in the O.R .prep area. With her last procedure, she held the iPod touch and played ShapeBuilder until calmly receiving the mask from the anesthesiologist. She continue to watch and play the iPod touch through the mask! before gently allowing the anesthesia to work for her short operation. “iPods for all!” said the nurses doctors. It was a night and day difference from having to use Versed just to stay put in the O.R. prep area.

The iPod continued to be a piece of assistive technology that we could use with Magdalyn to help her adjust to being in new or formerly uncomfortable situations. Trips to a restaurant, the dentist, the doctor–were finally not a nightmare any more. She could use the iPod touch to feel regulated and look like any other kid at the same time.

The first night we got the iPad from my parents, I brought it out to introduce it to Magdalyn who was having a snit about something at the time about which I cannot remember, but I said, “What is it?” She immediately stopped fussing and reached for the iPad saying…. “iPod…..big iPod” and the rest was history. She knew exactly what to do.


When I could sneak the device away from her, I started immersing myself into app store research, following more and more facebook pages about apps, and starting to teach, learn and experiment with my own live-in iOS hungry sponges named: Magdalyn and Gillian (aka ‘Mags’ & ‘Gilly’)–two girls living with autism.


Magdalyn was naturally intuitive from the start having used the iPod touch for a few months. Gillian, on the other hand, needed teaching and guided self-discovery with the iPad. How do you introduce a device like this to a kiddo whose attention span and visual spatial skills were still developing? By trial and error and with cause & effect apps. Little by little, Gillian started to interact with the iPad more and more. She began to understand that using her hand to swipe caused things to happen. She learned that by using a pointed finger, she could draw and scribble. She learned to navigate the apps and find favorite videos.


Everyday on Facebook, I began posting and linking articles demonstrating what I was witnessing at home in my own daughters. I was so excited by how they responded and had so much to share. I was asked at that point by my friend Amy at the EMU Autism Collaborative Center to do a Wednesday Night Light about apps. In October of 2010, I gave my first app workshop for parents called “Happy to be App-y.” At that event, I met my friend Brooke, who was starting a non-profit called iTaalk. An instant bond over iPads and autism was formed. I joined up with iTaalk as a volunteer to help contribute to some of their Ohio and Michigan training events, App Happy Potlucks, and to the iTaalk Facebook page.

I am passionate about sharing iOS technology and our story. There are so many families that are hungry for knowledge about where to start and how to start in helping their children with assistive technology. I hope this blog can help others in their journey.

~KVS

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” ~Jeremiah 29:11.

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