What’s it like being the non-autistic parent of autistic children? by Deanne Shoyer

Photo 4-10-2014, 5 33 04 PM (HDR)

When I was asked to write a piece about autism for The iMums, given that I’m not autistic I decided to share with you the only thing I am an expert on – what it’s like to parent my children.

 

A couple of points to note first. Autism is a developmental disability and as a non-disabled person, the challenges I tackle from time to time are nowhere near as significant as the hurdles my children face daily. Secondly, I have never once wished my children were not autistic; I adore and accept them exactly the way they are.

 

Bearing those caveats in mind, here are some of the things I’ve found hardest to manage:

 

  • The administration. In order to get the accommodations, services and supports my kids need, I have had to fill in more forms, attend more meetings, appointments and workshops, do more research and learn more things than I ever imagined possible.
  •  The isolation. There’s a counterpoint to this so make sure you read on, but I do sometimes wish I had someone I could call and have a cup of tea with. There are parent support groups but even if I didn’t have to do a 3 hour round trip to attend one, I still wouldn’t want to sit and listen to people talking about how much autism sucks. Friends whose kids are typically developing seem to fall into two camps. First there’s the pity crowd who are “so sorry” about my boys’ diagnosis. I’m not sorry, my kids are awesome. Then there are the folks who breezily declare, “well all parents have to deal with that.” Yes, given that my children are people and not dolphins, obviously there are many things that we have in common but honestly, it’s not the same.
  • Fear for their future. All parents know this feeling but autistic adults (even when compared to other disabled individuals) are much more likely to be unemployed or underemployed than their non-autistic peers. I worry about my boys growing up in a society that focuses solely on their deficits and differences. I want them to live in a world that values diversity and sees their strengths.
  • When I don’t understand my kids. My non-speaking son is incredibly adept at communicating what he wants and this continues to improve as he uses AAC (augmentative and alternative communication). My other son, Oliver, is verbal but highly echolalic. I know that behaviour is communication but sometimes I struggle mightily to understand what Oliver’s behaviour means. Not having the same neurology as my children can be frustrating and painful at times.
  • My boys are autistic in very different ways so when their needs come into conflict – when Oliver’s sensory seeking behaviour triggers Owen’s sensory sensitivities, for example – it’s extremely hard to come up with solutions where everyone’s needs get met.

 

Having said all that, there are some terrific benefits that I would never have experienced if my children weren’t autistic. Here’s some of them:

 

  • An online support network. I have so many friends who, even if they can’t be with me in person, are incredibly understanding and supportive. I especially value the input of autistic adults who can often interpret my children for me in ways that make it easier for me to understand them.
  • I’m a better person and I’m pretty sure, a better parent than I otherwise would have been. Trying to understand my children and balance their competing needs does have an upside. I’ve read books and articles, met people, written things, had to get my head around concepts and generally followed a path I would not otherwise have taken. I’ve had to exercise my powers of deduction and imagination – both in understanding my kids and coming up with creative solutions for some of the issues they face. There’s nothing more satisfying than making your child’s life easier, better or happier.
  • It’s much easier to raise my children to be themselves. My kids get to focus on things they enjoy. They are allowed to leverage their special interests and areas of strength in order to develop new skills. Their education is individualized to suit them, they don’t have the same pressure to conform and they aren’t forced to wear the straitjacket of a standardized education.
  •  In many ways my boys are so easy to parent. They enjoy their own company so I’m not forced to feel that I always should be with, play with or talk with them. Their lives are relaxed and not over-scheduled with play groups, school clubs or ludicrous amounts of homework. They have freedom to just ‘be’ which in turn makes being a solo parent much less stressful for me.

 

I clearly can’t claim that this is what life’s like for all parents of all autistic children but I hope I’ve given you an idea of what it’s like for me – and that I wouldn’t have it any other way.

 

 

Deanne fundraised to acquire iPads for her autistic sons, twins currently aged 7, after hearing how beneficial the new technology was proving to be for individuals on the spectrum. She’s been addicted to iOS ever since and has now been reviewing apps for kids for two years. Deanne is a freelance writer and you can find her blog at smallbutkindamighty.com



Roxie’s Puzzle Adventure by Ogg Studio – Review



iPad Screenshot 1

What we love…

The graphics and technical features.

What we’d love to see…

More music options and additional interactivity or other features that would make the puzzles more satisfying and motivating to complete.

Summary

Hard core puzzle lovers may enjoy this app but fans of Roxie’s A-MAZE-ing Vacation Adventure are likely to be disappointed.  Best suited for older players and adults versus children who may find it frustrating.

Our Rating

Roxie's Puzzle AdventureLet me start this review by saying how much I love Roxie’s A-MAZE-ing Vacation Adventure by Ogg Studios. If you’re looking for a multi-player ‘find it’ app that requires strategic thinking and has adorable interactive elements as well as gorgeous graphics to boot, then definitely try it. It may be nearly three years old but it’s still worth every penny in my  opinion. My son Oliver also enjoys Roxie’s Doors so I’ve come to expect great things from Roxie Munro and developer OCG Studios. My sons and I like puzzles so as you can imagine, I was very excited at the prospect of putting this app through its paces.

Things started off well. The developer is a member of the Know What’s Inside program sponsored by Moms With Apps and ACT, so as expected there are no ads in the app and the links to the developer’s other apps and social media channels are behind a parental gate, which in this case consists of a press and hold button. As an aside, if the developer could make it a little more obvious how to exit the ‘More Info’ screen, that would be appreciated. It took me a while to find the teeny-tiny ‘Close’ at the top right of the screen!

The anticipation built up as I saw my favourite part of Roxie’s A-MAZE-ing Vacation Adventure on screen (the bit where you get to fly an airplane and hop in a boat). Up to five players can use this app and save their progress separately so I named and picked a colour for my little car avatar and we were off! (Metaphorically)

Covered in cloud, the world from Roxie’s A-MAZE-ing Vacation Adventure was laid out on the screen in front of me. Just like the original app, you have to ‘complete‘ a section of the map in order for the cloud cover to dissipate. Tap the settings cog on the bottom left of the screen to set the puzzle difficulty or if you want to mute the background music. The puzzles range in size from 6 pieces to a whopping 260 and you can choose if you want the pieces to rotate or just pop into place.

I think the ‘work station’ where the puzzle is completed is terrific. The background is made up of wooden floorboards and you complete your puzzle on what looks like a weather-beaten old piece of manuscript. It feels just like being on summer vacation and putting puzzles together at the cottage. You can pinch to see the big picture and all your pieces, or zoom in to check on some detail. Tap on this screen’s cog and you are presented with 5 options – an exit arrow, a mute button for the music and if you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed there are buttons which will show you just the edge pieces, a glimpse of the picture you’re trying to complete and if you’ve been zooming in and out all over the place, tap the top button to re-centre everything.

iPad Screenshot 5

The technical aspects of this app are superb. The features I mentioned above, together with the fact that the puzzle pieces are shaded around the edges to give them a lovely 3D effect impressed me right from the start. The app oozes quality in design as well as in the original illustrations. The huge range of difficulty that you can set means that in theory the app can be used by kids of all ages and abilities as well as adults.

What surprised me the most was that I didn’t love this app. There are a few reasons why:

• I’m not sure what the ‘hook’ is supposed to be for younger children. Roxie’s A-MAZE-ing Vacation Adventure would be too advanced for them to play so the illustrations themselves are unlikely to be enough to motivate them to complete the puzzles. There’s no animation or interactivity with the pictures either, something I was disappointed to discover given the amount in the original app.,

I’m also not sure what the payoff for older users would be. If they are fans of the original app as I am, the puzzle is something of a let down. If they aren’t fans of the original app then unless they are diehard puzzle addicts I don’t see much in here to retain their interest.

I love to listen to music when I complete puzzles alone but there is no variety offered here. If you’re ‘on the go’ then your only options are to listen to something simple and repetitive or to complete the puzzles in silence.

As you complete each puzzle the app awards you a star rating. In order to achieve a 2 or 3 star rating however, the user needs to complete quite complex puzzles (at least 40 pieces for 2 stars and at least 150 pieces for 3 stars). I think this would be quite demotivating for younger children or folks who aren’t especially committed to completing difficult puzzles for their own sake.

I love the look and feel of Roxie’s Puzzles, its technical features and the gorgeous, detailed illustrations from the original app, but ultimately I was disappointed that there wasn’t more to it. If you’re a puzzle-aholic then it’s worth checking out otherwise I feel you are likely to find it as boring as I did.  The app does contain a parental gate and is Ogg Studios is a part of Moms with Apps.  Best suited for older players and adults versus children who may find it frustrating.

Roxie’s Puzzle Adventure – OCG Studios

Roxie's Puzzle Adventure Roxie's Puzzle Adventure by OCG Studios
Category: Games, Puzzle, Entertainment, Family
Requirements: Compatible with iPhone3GS-iPhone-3GS, iPhone4-iPhone4, iPodTouchFourthGen-iPodTouchFourthGen, iPad2Wifi-iPad2Wifi, iPad23G-iPad23G, iPhone4S-iPhone4S, iPadThirdGen-iPadThirdGen, iPadThirdGen4G-iPadThirdGen4G, iPhone5-iPhone5, iPodTouchFifthGen-iPodTouchFifthGen, iPadFourthGen-iPadFourthGen, iPadFourthGen4G-iPadFourthGen4G, iPadMini-iPadMini, iPadMini4G-iPadMini4G, iPhone5c-iPhone5c, iPhone5s-iPhone5s, iPadAir-iPadAir, iPadAirCellular-iPadAirCellular, iPadMiniRetina-iPadMiniRetina, iPadMiniRetinaCellular-iPadMiniRetinaCellular, iPhone6-iPhone6, iPhone6Plus-iPhone6Plus, iPadAir2-iPadAir2, iPadAir2Cellular-iPadAir2Cellular, iPadMini3-iPadMini3, iPadMini3Cellular-iPadMini3Cellular, iPodTouchSixthGen-iPodTouchSixthGen, iPhone6s-iPhone6s, iPhone6sPlus-iPhone6sPlus, iPadMini4-iPadMini4, iPadMini4Cellular-iPadMini4Cellular, iPadPro-iPadPro, iPadProCellular-iPadProCellular, iPadPro97-iPadPro97, iPadPro97Cellular-iPadPro97Cellular, iPhoneSE-iPhoneSE, iPhone7-iPhone7, iPhone7Plus-iPhone7Plus, iPad611-iPad611, iPad612-iPad612, iPad71-iPad71, iPad72-iPad72, iPad73-iPad73, iPad74-iPad74, iPhone8-iPhone8, iPhone8Plus-iPhone8Plus, iPhoneX-iPhoneX
Size: 41.38 MB

$1.99USD

Code drops Feb 7, 2015

Roxie’s a-MAZE-ing Vacation Adventure Roxie’s a-MAZE-ing Vacation Adventures – OCG Studios

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Roxie's a-MAZE-ing Vacation Adventures Roxie's a-MAZE-ing Vacation Adventures by OCG Studios

Price: $0.99 USD

**SECOND PLACE - BEST KIDS GAME FOR 2011** at BestAppEver


“Roxie's a-MAZE-ing Vacation Adventures” is an interactive journey - an exciting combination of a maze and a 'search and find' .

Roxie’s Doors Roxie’s Doors – OCG Studios


Roxie's Doors Roxie's Doors by OCG Studios

Price: $2.99 USD

The award-winning storybook Doors, by Roxie Munro, is now available as a lift the flap 3D search and find book. Over a 100 hidden objects..

The magical doors will open the world to the firestation.

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Roxie’s Puzzle Adventure Roxie’s Puzzle Adventure – OCG Studios


Roxie's Puzzle Adventure Roxie's Puzzle Adventure by OCG Studios

Price: $1.99 USD

Finally the beautiful illustrations of Roxie Munro playable as a jigsaw puzzle. The amazing artwork with incredible complexity will keep you busy for hours.

This gigantic maze from the "Roxie's.

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Deanne fundraised to acquire iPads for her autistic sons, twins currently aged 7, after hearing how beneficial the new technology was proving to be for individuals on the spectrum. She’s been addicted to iOS ever since and has now been reviewing apps for kids for two years. Deanne is a freelance writer and you can find her blog at smallbutkindamighty.com



GazziliScience By GazziliWorld LLC – Review



iPad Screenshot 2

Reviewed by Deanne

What we love…

Good value and does a great job of being both engaging and not condescending.

What we’d love to see…

A few technical tweaks and lessons that aren’t quite so stand-alone..  Ability to hide links (although parent protected) to other GazilliWorld apps

Summary

The six games in GaziliScience offer a fun way to kick-start a love of science in young children.

Our Rating

GaziliScience is designed to introduce young children to some principles that they can easily observe in operation in the world around them. The app comprises six lessons which start off locked; each one has to be completed in order to unlock the next. Upon completion of each section, Purple the Gazili mascot puts some of the theory just learned into practice by completing a section of a machine which, once finished, should work to provide Cleo and Theo (a cat and dog) with a meal. Between games kids can stay apprised of Purple’s progress via the Gazili Fun Page.

The six games cover botany, meteorology, the four seasons, biology (living and non-living), physics and human biology. In each game, a narrator provides some factual information and then the child’s job is to assist a character or interact with their environment in order to accomplish something. So, in the first lesson, we help Mimi plant and tend seeds while in the second Lily is trying to paint in the park while your child makes it rain (and tries to save Lily from getting wet). Next, Benito takes us through the four seasons and the player ensures he’s dressed appropriately for each one before moving on to help Kenji identify living and non-living items in the pet store. Purple then navigates an underwater ship wreck (if your child gives him the correct items so he can either sink or float at the right time) and lastly, we explore Tyler’s five senses while he waits for his Grandmother’s apple pie to cool down enough for him to eat.

The app is brightly coloured with fun music and sound effects (which can be turned off in settings) and the developer has clearly worked hard to ensure that the app would appeal to children in this age group by deploying:

  • other children as characters
  • real-life situations
  • engaging narration which doesn’t feel ‘dumbed down’
  • Lots of interactivity.

iPad Screenshot 5

I like that visual prompts are used and that you can supplement the narration by turning on the text option. There are multiple choices offered in some of the games which greatly increase their replay value. For example, you can choose to plant sunflowers, roses or an apple tree with Mimi and help Kenji choose from a chameleon, hamster or goldfish to bring home from the pet store.

iPad Screenshot 1

I do however have some suggestions and recommendations for the developer to consider:

  • The app can only be used in portrait mode which is something I’m not a fan of. My son Oliver used to refuse to use an app unless the iPad was in landscape. He’s more flexible about this now but still, an iPad can be far less stable in a stand when used in portrait mode.
  • Other Gazili apps are prominently advertised on the main screen. The links to iTunes are behind a parental gate but I would prefer an option in settings allowing parents to hide those ads completely. I do appreciate that in the last update the developer has removed links to social media and other websites which were in there previously.
  • As mentioned, I like the use of visual cues but I find that sometimes, if I tapped on an element that was sparkling, the narration would stop. Similarly, the narrator would sometimes interrupt or shut down a character before they had finished their point.
  • The option to turn text boxes on to supplement the narration is offered for the “hearing impaired”. I would recommend changing this description, not only because many deaf people object to being referred to as “impaired” but because the text option is useful for so many other reasons – for example, children who learn visually, who are learning to read or who have audio processing challenges.
  • Even though kids can revisit and play the games at any time, I think it would be valuable to have the option to reset the app so the child can go through all the games again in order and rebuild Purple’s machine.
  • I would love to see the games connect or build on each other in some way. For example, in the lesson about the four seasons, overt connections could be made to the previous games by asking how the seasons affect the different plants in Mimi’s garden and illustrating Lily’s point about ice being water in its solid state.
  • The real icing on the cake would be if each section included some at-home experiments that parents and children could do to explore these scientific phenomena further.

In summary, I like this app a lot. At $0.99 it’s good value for money and it does a great job of getting across a lot of learning through play. I recommend it as part of your child’s introduction to basic scientific principles. I’d love to see some tweaking in terms of presentation and a couple of technical fixes and if the games built on each other more and the lessons provided suggestions for further off-iPad learning, then it would qualify as a must-buy.

by

Category:
Requirements: Compatible with
Size: 0 MB

$


 

Deanne fundraised to acquire iPads for her autistic sons, twins currently aged 7, after hearing how beneficial the new technology was proving to be for individuals on the spectrum. She’s been addicted to iOS ever since and has now been reviewing apps for kids for two years. Deanne is a freelance writer and you can find her blog at smallbutkindamighty.com



Conversation TherAppy by Tactus Therapy Solutions- Review + Giveaway




iPhone Screenshot 4

What we love…

Depth and quality of content. Extremely customizable.

What we’d love to see…

Parental gating and a couple more customization options

Summary

A must-buy app for speech therapists but also for parents and others working with older children on building expressive language, higher order reasoning and life skills.

Our Rating

Conversation TherAppy

I love this app! There’s one feature that prevented me from giving it a 5 star rating – more on that later – but this is, in essence, a 5 star app. With Conversation TherAppy, Tactus Therapy Solutions has continued to do what it does best – develop high quality, easy to use, customizable apps that can be used with individuals across age groups. This app is perfect for adults and teens and is great for older children too – the developer recommends those aged 9 and up and I’d agree with that recommendation.

What Conversation TherAppy puts at your fingertips is a huge range of pictures and suggested questions that will allow you to work one-on-one or in groups, on eliciting expressive language, building and practicing conversation skills and also reasoning skills like inferences. All speech therapists could find uses for this app but it would also be a great addition to the toolkit of special needs teachers, all middle school and high school teachers, youth workers, caregivers of elderly people as well as parents of older children and teens.

You’ll note that, even though this app has lots of uses in a therapeutic context it’s possible uses extend far beyond therapy. Anyone who could use support in discussing topics that are often difficult to broach could utilize this app as a starting point. Topics as broad as aging, sexual health and identity, police brutality, drug use, car seats and online shopping are all touched on, but don’t be alarmed, the topics are fully customizable by age range.

iPhone Screenshot 2

The home screen is where your customization and user experience begins. A brief tutorial takes you through the major features of the app but detailed help is always accessible via the info button on the top left of the screen. Connect allows you to visit Tactus Therapy Solutions on Facebook and Twitter, sign up for their email newsletter and review Conversation TherAppy on the App Store. You can also tap on Other Apps to browse the developer’s other offerings on the App Store. Therapists will want to set up their clients in the User Hub, and Settings is where you customize the app to suit each user’s individual needs.

There are currently four language options with more to come – English (North American), French, Portuguese and Zulu. You can select the number of trials, scoring sounds and toggle links on and off. For me the most important setting options are: the ability to input email addresses so that results are automatically shared with others, Content filtering where you can choose if you want topics to appear that are appropriate for children, teens or adults and then the Customization Database.

This database lets you go to town with respect to customization. You can turn topics off or on so, for example, maybe you don’t want to discuss couponing with your child or, perhaps you want to add the topic of divorce into a child’s database because it’s something they’re experiencing right now. Even better, you can edit the text of the questions themselves which is a fantastic feature.

Once you’ve set everything up and you start the app, the client or group is shown a picture. Tactus always uses incredibly high quality, clear, pictures in their apps and this one is no exception. There are ten different buttons either side of the picture which represent different conversational prompts: Describe, Define, Remember, Decide, Feel, Infer, Predict, Narrate, Evaluate and Brainstorm. Score client’s responses and check on their progress via the User Hub.

iPhone Screenshot 3

There is so much to like about this app:

  • Not sure if it’s the right fit for you? No problem, just download the free Lite version and give it a try.
  • The pictures are not only crisp and clear but well chosen – each one I looked at prompted an emotional reaction in me – they are designed to really engage folks in conversation.
  • The depth and breadth of the topics and the artfully written conversational prompts.
  • Perfect for adults and teens but great for older children as well.
  • Data tracking, reporting (in graph form even!) and results sharing
  • More customization options than you can shake a stick at.

There are however a couple of suggestions I’d like Tactus to consider for future updates:

  • Tactus makes it crystal clear on their website that this app isn’t designed to be used by children unsupervised. Fair enough, but in the real world that’s not always possible. My kids like to play with my iPad simply because it’s mine and I can’t supervise them every single second. One of the strengths of this app is that there is hard-hitting content but a lot of that content is something I don’t want my 7 year-olds stumbling across. The only solution for me right now is to delete the app from my iPad when they want to use it. I’d so appreciate it if they considered a simple form of gating that the Information, Connect, Other Apps and Settings options would be behind. This would also have the benefit of cleaning up the Home screen and make it less busy.
  • I would love if there was the option to add your own picture and questions or at least a way to submit requests for additions to the developer. It may be that I simply couldn’t find it but I searched in vain for a picture covering the topic of death. I think this would be an invaluable addition, not just for discussion with children if a friend, relative or beloved pet dies or is dying, but for adults also – do they want a living will in place, what are their wishes with respect to resuscitation in the event of a medical crisis, etc.
  • People often learn more from watching than reading so a how-to use video in the Info section would be a welcome addition.

In summary, this is a wonderful app with a huge amount of quality content and so many possible uses. It’s well worth the current price of $24.99. Highly recommended!
If you would like to buy this app please use this link:
Conversation TherAppy – Tactus Therapy Solutions Ltd.

Conversation Therapy
Conversation Therapy
by Tactus Therapy Solutions Ltd.

Category: Education, Medical
Requirements: Compatible with iPhone4-iPhone4, iPad2Wifi-iPad2Wifi, iPad23G-iPad23G, iPhone4S-iPhone4S, iPadThirdGen-iPadThirdGen, iPadThirdGen4G-iPadThirdGen4G, iPhone5-iPhone5, iPodTouchFifthGen-iPodTouchFifthGen, iPadFourthGen-iPadFourthGen, iPadFourthGen4G-iPadFourthGen4G, iPadMini-iPadMini, iPadMini4G-iPadMini4G, iPhone5c-iPhone5c, iPhone5s-iPhone5s, iPadAir-iPadAir, iPadAirCellular-iPadAirCellular, iPadMiniRetina-iPadMiniRetina, iPadMiniRetinaCellular-iPadMiniRetinaCellular, iPhone6-iPhone6, iPhone6Plus-iPhone6Plus, iPadAir2-iPadAir2, iPadAir2Cellular-iPadAir2Cellular, iPadMini3-iPadMini3, iPadMini3Cellular-iPadMini3Cellular, iPodTouchSixthGen-iPodTouchSixthGen, iPhone6s-iPhone6s, iPhone6sPlus-iPhone6sPlus, iPadMini4-iPadMini4, iPadMini4Cellular-iPadMini4Cellular, iPadPro-iPadPro, iPadProCellular-iPadProCellular, iPadPro97-iPadPro97, iPadPro97Cellular-iPadPro97Cellular, iPhoneSE-iPhoneSE, iPhone7-iPhone7, iPhone7Plus-iPhone7Plus, iPad611-iPad611, iPad612-iPad612, iPad71-iPad71, iPad72-iPad72, iPad73-iPad73, iPad74-iPad74, iPhone8-iPhone8, iPhone8Plus-iPhone8Plus, iPhoneX-iPhoneX
Size: 97.59 MB

$19.99USD

Screenshots
(Click to enlarge)
Screenshots for iPad
(Click to enlarge)

Giveaway

If you would like to win a promo code for this app, please enter via the widget below. Winners will be emailed and must contact The iMums within 48 hours to claim their prize. This giveaway is open to everyone, worldwide, and an iTunes account is required to claim the prize. Please ensure you have read and understand our Terms & Conditions. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Deanne fundraised to acquire iPads for her autistic sons, twins currently aged 7, after hearing how beneficial the new technology was proving to be for individuals on the spectrum. She’s been addicted to iOS ever since and has now been reviewing apps for kids for two years. Deanne is a freelance writer and you can find her blog at smallbutkindamighty.com

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