Wednesday, July 14, 2010

All Play and No Work...I Don't Think So & The Amazing Ipad

If you read my last post you know Sam and I were chilling in Winneconne. With such a peaceful environment and no interruptions I just couldn't resist working on a few things with Sam. The first video shows a typical conversation between Sam and I. He's definitely talking more and getting better at staying on topic but active listening still eludes him.

You'll notice he begins the video with a beautiful 5 word sentence. However, we have worked with Sam on the "I want" sentence for a long time. It is a memorized block of information. As he goes further along you will see his spontaneous conversation drop to 1 to 3 words. He then attempts the word refrigerator which I don't get on the first try and ask him to repeat, he adds a few more syllables and points allowing me to figure out what he is saying. He then speaks something that we would normally think but not verbalize as he walks himself through getting the orange juice out of the refrigerator. This happens quite often with Sam as he replays the steps of what he needs to do out loud.

The bump on the head does not stop him from his mission. I was surprised he did not yell at the refrigerator and hit it for bumping him in the head, (yep, that happens alot). He will yell at and hit a chair, or a curb, or a wall that somehow jumps out in front of him and causes him some type of injury. I can remember when he tripped over Ben's shoe and went after the shoe and the owner with a vengeance. He did yell at the soda to stay, so I guess that made up for it.

Sam is not wearing his hearing aid in this sequence because it was hot and I was cleaning and changing the battery. He hears the siren and immediately decides it's a police car. He then switches the conversation to Daddy and pizza, Daddy at work, Daddy, McDonalds. Please understand Sam has an obsession with fast food restaurants that he likes to visit and have a bottle of water or diet soda, since he can't eat much at them. When you drive by he always tells you what restaurant he sees, usually can connect an appropriate food item and always tells you "Yummy". I am convinced that 90% of Sam's conversations center around food.

In Sam's next sentence he talks about his sister Danielle going to Erin's, no a movie. We then piece together that Danielle and Erin are going to a movie.

After this you will notice how Sam has to be stopped to listen, otherwise he will continue to talk at you. Do you want to even try to guess how often I hear the word "Mom" in a day, or how about in 5 minutes??

I ask Sam where he is which kind of throws him off, so he repeats what I say a common "Sam" reaction. He goes with house and then correctly tells me it's grandma's house so I introduce the word cottage to him. We then have a nice exchange about Aunt Wendy and the pool. He then trys to tell me that it's Wendy's turn to go on the slide but comes out with Yay Yay instead of Wendy, since that name isn't in his everyday vocabulary. Sam changes the conversation to a lifeguard which still keeps him in the pool conversation.

He then becomes distracted by a commercial, a common occurrence. Sam can sing 1-800-588-2300, E m p i r e, he will let you know when a Walmart commercial is on, he commonly sings the beginning songs to shows like ICarly, SpongeBob, 2 1/2 Men.

Sam also lives to knock on doors and have people tell him to "come in". Sam will say everyday that "It's good to be home". This started shortly after I began homeschooling him, I think it was God's way to provide daily encouragement for me. This is all pretty good for a child that was labelled non-verbal early on, made only noises and 1 speech sound and has a hearing impairment. We still have a long way to go but we are definitely making progress.

The next two videos show me working with Sam on various areas. Click on the links provided to view them, they just didn't seem to want to upload to blogger so we improvise. The first one begins with Sam's money identification skills. The white incline board you see is worth it's weight in gold to work with Sam. I bought it from the Learning Store. It is made by, it is magnetic and a white board and Sam loves it. The magnets I am using are from my favorite magnet resource besides Ebay, they have everything magnetic.

Sam struggles a little with the next area which is phonics. Sam often confuses the letters d, b, p, q which as my older son informs me is all the same letter it just depends on which way you flip it. He will also say "was" when reading "saw", and yawns and repositions himself a lot when reading. These were all the same signs we saw with Ben when he was diagnosed Dyslexic or cross dominant. This could be yet another struggle Sam will face but in my life we only take it one day at a time so we are not going to dwell on that right now. Nah, I have enough to worry about already...right God???

The letter magnets are also from Dowling Magnets and the picture magnets are from the Learning Store. Sam then works on his reading and comprehension to match the appropriate magnet with each sentence.

From there we move on to the most amazing teaching tool I have purchased to date....the Ipad. Sam learned how to master the Ipad in about 5 minutes of use. Sam has fought me tooth and nail on math from Day 1. No way, no how, ain't doing it, not even trying until........the Kid Calc app. on the Ipad. Praise the Lord!!! You can decide what math facts to work on. Sam is shown doing addition and subtraction, numbers 1-5. I want to note that Sam was not at the top of his game while doing his math, but I think it is important to show Sam's good times and bad times. I don't try to catch the best of the best on video. I think it is important for people to see what it is really like to work with Sam. On this day he decided he liked the "bong" sound of the wrong answers. I knew what he was doing because I have worked with him on this app. I know he can do these but some times that "bong" sound is just calling his name. I love this app because it has built in intensity. It shows Sam a problem, he sees a manipulative to help him figure out and then he can choose from 4 answers. The problem is then reviewed and it reveals a portion of a picture. Sam continues on because he wants to see what the picture is and the next one and the next one. I have even caught him doing math without being asked...HALLELUJAH!!! Video link:

We use the free, yes that's right I said "F R E E" ABA flash cards to work on Sam's receptive language. He hears them and repeats them. There are a lot of flash card packs which include the following topics: zoo, eat, actions, alphabet, fruits & nuts, play, vehicles, vegetables, shapes, wear, instruments, sports, science, function and packs that ask questions about items. These packs show 3 items and then ask, "Find the item you would drive" when the child taps on the motorcycle, children cheer "YEAH, you did it" and it goes on to the next set. These cards are beautifully done, just the image, not a lot of background and words I haven't necessarily already covered with Sam. He's expanding his vocabulary.

Next you see him practicing his letter writing and spelling on iWriteWords. Love this app too! The sounds, the way it shows them how to make the letter and then the built in intensity of dropping the letters down the drain. Cool!

I had difficulty uploading videos to blogger so the two apps I just talked about got cut off. Here is the remainder of Sam working with his Ipad. Link for video:

Sam then chooses Build a Word from Word World. This is a cute app that asks him to spell a word, push it together to form the item and then shake the Ipad for the next one.

Another favorite app is Keynote because I can take the PowerPoint presentations I made on my computer and load them on the Ipad making them fully portable. Can you feel the excitement??? This rocks. I don't have to re-enter everything again. I can also make new presentations on the go. Thank heavens, I got a degree in Marketing and Communications because so much of Sam's education relies on me to be creative, resourceful and innovative. Very much like a focus group, Sam lets me know when I've done a great presentation and when I need to head back to the drawing board and try again. I think he's a tougher critic than most!!

Sam works first on an Experience Book/stories about Sam and then works on the 300 list of the 1000 most commonly used words in the English language. In order to keep his attention we put photos of his family in between the words.

Sam's favorite games are Froggy Jump, DoodleJump, Labyrinth, Skee-ball, StuntCar, Dora, Diego Snow, Animatch and the ever favorite Monkey Divin.

Sam is so quick at Animatch that we had to go with another concentration game called Memory which uses both words and pictures. I love to use Doodle Buddy for quick scripting and written directions. No need to find the magnetic board or pen and worry about erasing. You can write on Doodle Buddy and erase with a shake of the Ipad. I also purchased Utalk teaching English. This app reviews many aspects of the English language and provides Sam with some great practice words, phrases, time and numbers. We tend to chuckle when we come across things like gent's bathroom instead of men's room and cheers. It has a lot of interactive games that Sam enjoys so it works for him. Another neat app to check out is Going Places which shows pictures and social stories for going to the hairdresser, mall, doctor, playground, grocery store and restaurant. It is FREE.

I will try to do another post showing Sam working on some of the other educational apps. and some new ones we are about to try.

Sam also likes to view all the photos we have loaded and he will practice his speech as he talks about them. Cool benefit I never even imagined. He can listen to music and watch movies from Netflix. We have loaded two of his favorite movies on the Ipad so he can view them without a Wifi connection. Sam loves "Like Mike" and "Wild Hogs". I can't even tell you how many DVD's I have purchased of those two that Sam has conveniently lost or wrecked. Now they are both on his Ipad for good. I just haven't shown him the video button but I'm sure he'll figure that out soon. Sam's Ipad has a protective case and because he likes it so much he takes very good care of it. In fact, we are going to be working on a behavioral issue since he seems a little territorial about the Ipad and he needs to share...especially with Mom.

I have my calendar on it, contacts and some of my own favorite games. The Ipad reduces Sam's stimming because he is more actively engaged, it removes the stimming in the car or when he is bored. It is a great incentive and motivator. Unlike some toys or electronics Sam really works on the Ipad apps, he doesn't jump from one to the next. He spends time on each one he goes on to... he is actively learning. The Ipad does not replace my teaching Sam one on one. We still need to generalize, show him, demonstrate in other ways so that his learning is not just keyed into the Ipad. I don't want him to know how to do math on an Ipad but not be able to count money, tell time, or realize that 2 apples plus 2 more apples is a total of 4 apples. On new apps or the math app I had to first sit with him, encourage, assist and let him see how to properly do the app. The cost of the Ipad seemed high to me but it is a computer with full computer capabilities along with wonderful portability. I...okay WE...LOVE THE IPAD!!!!


  1. Nice post, Sue, Sam seems like he is making great progress.

  2. Hi Sue! I found your blog via the NACD discussion board when I was looking at suggested iPhone apps. I have a 34 month old son, Matthew, who has Down syndrome. We just recently started with NACD. Watching your video of Sam makes me wonder about how Matthew will be when he's older. I love how Sam says "mom". I am still waiting to hear my sweet son call me "mom" or "mama". We've been working on the m sound and he is able to verbalize it but when I ask him to say "mama", he'll either say "pa" or sign "mom".
    Nice post and thanks for sharing.