Parents often behind iPad and iPhone apps for children with autism

Parents of children with autism often give rave reviews to iPad, iPod and iPhone applications designed to support their kids’ special needs and help them communicate. Some of those applications, or apps, were developed by parents of children with autism or other special needs. Blogger Shannon Des Roches Rosa talked to some of those parents about the inspiration behind their work.

My son Leo the iPad enthusiast has benefitted greatly from apps developed for kids with special needs — they provide novel ways for him to communicate, play independently, and entertain himself.

I am constantly impressed by how intuitively designed these apps are, how perceptive of Leo’s needs, how they bring out his talents and encourage his learning through innovative design and interfaces.

As a former software producer, I wanted to know more about the stories behind the apps, so I contacted Lorraine Akemann of app developer hub MomsWithApps. Lorraine told me that many of Leo’s favorite apps were created by parents who wanted an app to properly support their own child’s special needs.

Several of the MomsWithApps developers agreed to allow me to share their stories here — so while this is a longer post, I hope you agree that their stories are inspiring, and worth your eyeball time.

Martin Brooks from MiasApps.com, developer of the iComm and iSpy Phonics apps.

I named my business after my daughter Mia, who has been my inspiration.

via The Personal Stories Behind Awesome Apps for Kids With Special Needs | BlogHer.


Show dog helps autistic children

He may be a top dog at the Westminster Dog Show in New York in February, but Wyatt is already a winner in the hearts of kids with special needs. The Rhodesian Ridgeback with the sixth sense for kids is officially known as Ch. Rambo’s Gunfight at the OK Corral, and he is competing at the prestigious Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show for the second year. When she isn’t showing him, Janice Wolfe, founder of Merlin’s Kids, and breeder from Wyckoff, N.J., also works with Wyatt to help assess the individual needs of autistic children and others.

via Show dog helps special-needs children – Yahoo! News.

SafetyNet available in Davie, Florida

Finding a missing loved-one that has wandered off can be as simple as tracking a radio signal.

The Davie Police Department has joined the SafetyNet program that provides wrist or ankle bracelets for people suffering from cognitive issues such as Alzheimer’s Disease or Autism who may wander off and become lost.

The SafetyNet program is offered to qualified law enforcement and public safety agencies at no cost, according to the SafetyNet Web site. The free training includes learning how to use the search and rescue equipment and in-depth training and certification of it, technology and procedures for performing a search and rescue operation.

via SafetyNet Technology To Help Find Wandering Elderly « CBS Miami.

Roses for Autism

Roses for Autism employs teenagers and young adults with autism. Roses for Autism ships roses and other flowers nation-wide.

Don’t have your act together for Valentine’s Day? Thanks to Roses for Autism RFA, you can buy freshly-cut, fragrant Connecticut-grown Pinchbeck roses – if you order quickly.

Yes, these are the same famous Pinchbecks, grown under glass in Guilford since 1929, once sought after by hotels in New York and Boston for their heady fragrance and full blooms.

After the Pinchbeck family decided it could no longer run the business in 2008, Ability Beyond Disability, a nonprofit organization based in Bethel, set up RFA through its Growing Possibilities arm. The rose growing, wholesale and retail operation not only keeps a Connecticut tradition and agricultural production going, it provides life training and career opportunities for adults who have been diagnosed on the autism spectrum.

via The Day – Roses for Autism to the Rescue | News from southeastern Connecticut.

Family dog could aid autism therapy

Trained therapy dogs can make a big difference in the lives of some children with autism.

But they’re also expensive.

That’s why a local doctor is recommending some families look no further than their family dog for help.

Higgins the therapy dog is already a big help in Dr. Rolanda Maxim’s autism clinic at SSM Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital.

Young patients anxious about having their height and weight measured can watch Higgins do it first.

“In the company of a dog, a child will become more relaxed, more interactive, more social, less anxious,” says Dr. Rolanda Maxim, an autism specialist at SSM Cardinal Glennon Children’s Medical Center.

Now Dr. Maxim is taking the idea one big step further.

She’s recommending select families in her practice use their own family dog to increase interaction at home.

via Family dog could aid autism therapy | ksdk.com.

Autism: Water instruction for autistic kids in Florida

Like many autistic children, Ethan John loves the water — and that’s both a good and bad thing.If there’s water around, the 7-year-old will head right to it, even if there’s nobody watching him.

“Everything else is so chaotic for him, but being in a pool or the ocean relaxes him,” says his mother, Koren McKenzie-John, of Tamarac. “We can’t take our eyes off of him for a second.

“Because of children like Ethan, water safety instruction is crucial in South Florida. And, in fact, experts say South Florida offers the most-advanced programs to teach autistic children how to swim. Instructors here must go through an extra layer of certification to work with special-needs children. And kids are matched with qualified instructors through Broward and Palm Beach county water-safety agencies.

“It’s a great model, the best in the country,” says Jack Scott, executive director of the Florida Atlantic University Center for Autism and Related Disabilities. “Florida is trying to teach them water safety rather than have instructors who just throw up their hands and say, ‘They can’t do it.’ ”

via Autism: Water instruction for autistic kids – South Florida Sun-Sentinel.com.

Marino Foundation WalkAbout draws thousands to fight Autism

A beautiful day for the Marino Foundation WalkAbout Autism (Photo Courtesy Miami Dade Police)

A beautiful day for the Marino Foundation WalkAbout Autism (Photo Courtesy Miami Dade Police)

Congratulations to former Miami Dolphins quarterback Dan Marino and the 6,000-plus people who participated in Saturday’s Dan Marino Foundation WalkAbout Autism!

The Miami fundraising walk raised more than $400,000 for autism research. Among those helping – Marino’s son, Michael, 22, who was diagnosed with autism 20 years ago, and Dolphins General Manager Jeff Ireland, dad to twin teenage girls autism.

SafetyNet is proud to have been a sponsor of this exciting, successful event.

Friday, as DJ1Tre set up his equipment on the Sun Life Stadium field for Saturday’s Dan Marino Foundation WalkAbout Autism, he took in the empty stadium. He’d seen the place full and rocking when his father used to work there. But he found it hard to believe 6,000 people would be on the field Saturday.

“I was out there earlier, it really is 6,000 people. It truly is a great day,” said DJ1Tre, a 22-year-old also known as Michael Marino, son of former Dolphins Hall of Fame quarterback Dan Marino and a college graduate diagnosed as autistic 20 years ago.

“Mike is a miracle really,” Dan Marino said. “When it comes to a young kid diagnosed at 2 years old, now graduated college, doing great. … I get choked up thinking about it. He’s a good kid, a good kid. Today’s special for me. He’s going to be out there working, doing a little spinning and being a part of this. To know the kind of impact he’s had not only on our lives, but the situation we were in, been able to help a lot of other people. That’s what’s good about it.”

A crowd gathered outside Sun Life Stadium, clad in T-shirts trumpeting their group supporting autism research and care. In one group were the members of Raiders For Autism, representing Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas High School. In another group were Otters 4 Autism from Weston Everglades Elementary. Here, there, and everywhere were personally themed teams such as Justin’s Village and Joshua’s Jaywalkers, the latter named for 5-year-old Joshua Corliss.

“He was diagnosed a couple of weeks ago, so we’re here to support the cause,” said Debby Corliss, a Pembroke Pines dentist.

via Marino Foundation WalkAbout draws crowd, raises money to fight Autism – David J. Neal – MiamiHerald.com.

Philadelphia International Auto Show Black Tie Tailgate to benefit Center for Autism Research at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia

There’s a big autism research fundraiser in Philadelphia tonight – The Black Tie Tailgate at the Philadelphia International Auto Show.

For its 2011 Black Tie Tailgate, the Auto Dealers CARing for Kids Foundation has named the Center for Autism Research (CAR) at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia as the event’s beneficiary. CAR is one of the largest and most comprehensive autism research centers in the world. Its goals are to identify the causes of autism spectrum disorders and develop effective treatments.

Since its establishment in 2008, CAR has had multiple breakthrough discoveries in genetics and brain imaging, culminating in over 50 published scientific papers on autism. CAR also conducts innovative treatment research, including the largest autism intervention research study ever conducted for children with autism spectrum disorders, and is also involved in community outreach and training programs designed to educate families and professionals about autism screening, diagnosis and treatment.

Chances are you know of someone living with autism as recent studies show that one in 110 children in the United States have an autism spectrum disorder. Please consider attending the 2011 Black Tie Tailgate to show your support of these possible family members, friends or neighbors as well as others who are working hard to develop impactful treatments.

via Our Cause | Philadelphia International Auto Show.

SafetyNet now available in Boston to help protect people with autism, Alzheimer’s who wander

SafetyNet announced at a press conference that its SafetyNet service is now available in the city of Boston. SafetyNet helps caregivers provide an added layer of protection for loved ones with cognitive conditions such as autism and Alzheimer’s from the life-threatening behavior of wandering. The service also provides public safety agencies with the tools and training to more effectively find and rescue those individuals if they wander and go missing.

The Boston Police Department has been trained and certified on the SafetyNet service, as well as equipped with search and rescue equipment. The department can now use the SafetyNet service to find and rescue people at risk who go missing. SafetyNet eliminates the countless man-hours that can be required in traditional search and rescue operations.

“In Massachusetts, statistics show that there are approximately 10,000 school aged children with autism and an estimated 120,000 people with Alzheimer’s. We’re very proud to offer this service, which can provide caregivers with additional peace of mind about protecting their loved ones,” said Kathy Kelleher, Vice President, SafetyNet. “Boston joins the growing list of Massachusetts communities that now offer the SafetyNet service. SafetyNet has already rescued residents in other parts of the state—and country, including the dramatic rescue of an 8-year-old boy in Quincy, Mass. who had wandered into the ocean and was rescued by local police in just 14 minutes using SafetyNet’s tracking equipment.”

To bring this valuable service to Boston, SafetyNet worked closely with the Boston Police Department. SafetyNet provided 14 sets of electronic tracking systems to Boston police. In addition, SafetyNet officials and industry experts provided certified training for police officers in each of the 11 districts located in Boston on the use of its specialized equipment to find and rescue individual clients enrolled in the service. The Search and Rescue Receivers, certified training and ongoing support are provided at no cost to the Boston Police Department or taxpayers.

How SafetyNet Works

Once caregivers enroll their loved ones in the service, they receive a SafetyNet Bracelet, which is worn by the person at risk typically on their wrist or ankle. The caregiver provides information about the client to assist in search and rescue, which is then entered into a secure database. SafetyNet provides 24×7 emergency caregiver support.

The SafetyNet Bracelet constantly emits a Radio Frequency signal. Radio Frequency is the technology of choice because, unlike cellular and GPS technology, its signal doesn’t rely on cellular networks or satellite signals and can often be tracked when a client wanders into a shallow body of water, a densely wooded area, a concrete structure such as a garage, or a building constructed with steel.

The Search and Rescue Receivers used by public safety agencies can detect the Radio Frequency signal emitted from a SafetyNet Bracelet typically within a range of approximately one mile in on-the-ground searches and 5-7 miles in searches by helicopter.

The SafetyNet certified training for public safety agencies focuses on its specialized electronic equipment, technology, procedures and on how to effectively communicate with and approach individuals who have cognitive conditions. SafetyNet’s secure database contains information on each individual client enrolled in the service so that the search and rescue team can have information on the individual’s personal habits and how he or she should be approached, spoken to and comforted.

Resources for Caregivers

SafetyNet offers SafetyNetSource, an online information and resource center designed to assist caregivers seeking tips on how to protect their loved ones who wander. SafetyNetSource offers compelling content from across the web, access to the SafetyNetSource Twitter feed and YouTube channel, a Facebook page to help caregivers communicate with one another and engage in a community of support, plus a variety of valuable resources for caregivers such as a form to distribute to the local first responders and neighbors that may be helpful in the event their loved one wanders.

Availability & More Information

For more information about SafetyNet, please call (877) 4-FINDTHEM (877-434-6384) or visit safetynettracking.com

via New Service That Helps Police Find and Rescue People Who Wander Now Available… — BOSTON,  Jan. 26, 2011 /PRNewswire/ –.

Teen with autism is a gifted timpanist

Standing in a tuxedo in a Penfield High School hallway on Friday night, Dennis “D.J.” O’Keefe sways back and forth.

His head cocks up and down between sentences, and he fiddles with his lapel as he talks. His speech — quick and clear at times, choppy at others — is often interrupted by a nervous clearing of his throat.

O’Keefe was diagnosed with autism shortly after his second birthday. The Penfield High School senior has faced his share of resulting adversity, and has plenty of challenges ahead of him as he prepares to enter college and life beyond.

But if you whistle a tune, he can name every single note.

And in the 32 years that Jim Doser has taught music in the Penfield Central School District, O’Keefe is the most talented timpani player he’s ever had.

“As a timpanist, he’s the best ever,” said Doser. “He has a future in music as much as anyone else does. We’ve all been encouraging him to go this route.”

O’Keefe, 18, is no savant. He’s got some innate talents, for sure — the most impressive being his ability to identify the music note of any sound that’s played for him, a trait commonly called perfect pitch.

But when he’s in front of his percussion instruments in the school music room, or the pillows he sets up as makeshift drums in his bedroom at home, he’s just another teenager trying to hone his musical skills.

“Two hours, Monday through Friday,” he said.

The combination of talent and tenacity has led to some substantial opportunities for the teenager. He’s won scholarships to summer music camps and practices with some of the best percussionists in Rochester.

via Penfield teen rises above autism as a gifted timpanist | democratandchronicle.com | Democrat and Chronicle.