My son Jaime is 21 and has Autism. We moved into the city of Anchorage a little less than two years ago from Chignik Lagoon, which is a village with just 10 students and fewer than 70 residents. My name is Jeff and I am just a parent. My degree was in business and aero space management. I operated my own fleet of commercial fishing vessels, an air taxi,sports fishing lodge, and gave wildlife adventures as an Alaska Naturalist.
I have not been able to get much help for my son, and I have been working full time with Jaime his whole life. I was his teacher for several years and have always worked daily with every other teacher and aide. Although he is non-verbal, Jaime’s strength has always been using computers and watching video. It has been difficult to find anyone to work with my son who is knowledgeable about using assistive technology.
A little over a year ago–after years of trying–we finally got him to use a phone. Enter the iPhone. We have been using an iPhone on a lanyard around his neck for the past year now. He can now call us and answer calls. He can make requests, tell us where he is at, and answer yes or no questions. He can make out his calendar, take pictures, video, surf the net, check the time, watch You Tube, and of course play video games, which we do not encourage. We try and keep the video game playing to his computer and game systems only. He can send an e-mail, or text, but we need to work on this skill, as well as getting him to use Facebook for social interaction.
We have been using Pictello pretty much daily. We also have been using iReward, Proloquo2Go, video modeling, and FitBit app for him to enter his food in a journal and monitor his calorie intake and calorie burn from his activities. This method has allowed him to lose some weight. We are working on his transition and functional life skills.
Originally I tried to get help for Jaime with assistive technology from my son’s school district and ATLA (Assistive Technology of Alaska). However in the mean time, I had been pretty much searching the web to get informed with ideas on apps that we could use to incorporate into Jaime’s goals. I am happy to say that I am now working with the school’s assistive technology department, ATLA, and the assistive technology person for all 53 school districts in Alaska. I am working to connect them so that they can better collaborate and address the assistive technology needs of students with disabilities here in Alaska.
In the process of my quest to help my son, the school district, ATLA, the university, Mental Health Trust Authority, the Governor’s Council on Special Education and Developmental Disabilities and the Parent Navigator group and I have all seen the significant progress and improvement that Jaime has attained by working with his iPhone.
I was chosen to speak with the state of Alaska’s administration, and to give testimony to them in regards to legislation for Autism insurance reform. I have been approached to present at a conference for Direct Service Providers on how we have used assistive technology with Jaime. I also have been approached to work with some other individuals to train some staff to use AT, and apps to work with other Autistic individuals.
Enter BridgingApps. The courses and the information that have been provided by BridgingApps was exactly what I have been looking for. There is so much information and apps out there. I can see that the courses offered by BridgingApps will definitely be beneficial to enlighten, inform, train, and get myself better prepared and organized. To gain the focus and skill sets to try and keep abreast of what I can do to help Jaime. Incorporating his strength with computers and the visual elements with the different apps that can greatly provide significant progress towards acheiving the goals of increasing his capacity and functional life skills to provide him a better quality of life.
BridgingApps gets a 5 star rating from me so far! Thank you for guidance, direction and helping us move forward.