For the #WeekOfTheYoungChild & in celebration of #OccupationalTherapyMonth, the Children’s Therapy Clinic is celebrating the success of Jonathan M. and his Occupational Therapist, Alysia Cummings. Jonathan is 8 years old and has been with the Clinic since age three after graduating from the ECI program. He currently receives OT and speech therapy 1x/week and attends public school. Mom shared his therapy has helped him participate at school and be successful in Activities of Daily Living (ADLs) at home. His OT, Alysia, shared Jonathan has taken really well to visual aids and written schedules. He is working on tying shoes, bathing independently, brushing his teeth, toileting hygiene, buttoning, and handwriting. At home, he uses visual aids for his morning routine, bathing and tooth brushing. Mom said he is able to follow the schedules very well; and has increased his independence. To increase his participation in the Clinic session, Alysia writes a schedule on the board, which encourages him to participate much more easily than he used to. Mom shared it is the everyday progress that has made such a big difference for Jonathan. Check out more info on our Children’s Therapy Clinic at Easter Seals Greater Houston
Tag Archives: BridgingApps
2020 was a year like no other. Though it had incredible challenges BridgingApps, a program of Easter Seals Greater Houston, worked hard and accomplished so much. BridgingApps includes a website, app reviews by therapists and special education teachers, a custom app search engine, assistive technology labs and training options for parents, organizations and schools.
In 2020, BridgingApps focused on virtual training and were able to serve an incredible amount of clients online. The available research and the success stories the team captured reflects the potential power of using technology and proper training to significantly impact the lives of people with special needs, disabilities, Veterans, older adults, caregivers and more. Check out everything this hardworking and connective program accomplished!
With the current Coronavirus pandemic, causing shutdowns of businesses, limited access to resources, and just overall stress for every single person in the United States, the Easter Seals Greater Houston L.E.A.D. program is fighting back the stress with creativity in technology! By utilizing webcam access, we have still been able to meet with our adult program daily and covered many new ways to communicate. First step was showing all the tips and tricks with Facebook and how to create video conversations with their friends; allowing our clients to still stay as close as ever even during this time of social distancing. As we move forward, our next step has been creating a new activity calendar FULL of fun creative ways to stay busy, from virtual tours online to chair yoga YouTube videos. We have definitely been challenged by this pandemic, but it is not stopping us whatsoever. Having to think outside of the box has been the L.E.A.D.’s group specialty, and with everyone in this social crew working together, we are still making it the best part of our week. By using these amazing resources of technology, we are still able to function together as a team and continue to socialize just like before, just this time with a little distance. Check out what we’ve produce here on our BridgingApps YouTube Channel! From Rebecca, Adult Services LEAD Program
Camp, School, Therapy and More!
I was on the phone with a Buckaroo mom about the COVID-19 emergency funding; she was super appreciative. We started talking about her son, Bryson, who has come to Buckaroo– but it has always been a struggle for him to do a whole day of camp. Bryson has non-verbal autism and he does what HE wants to do (i.e. not a fan of buckaroo group activities, or listening), so he mostly came to Buckaroo for a couple hours each day to watch camp from the side. Mom said that for the first week of quarantine, Bryson stood at the door with his backpack every morning for 45 minutes because he wanted to go to school so badly. Nevertheless, she said that homeschooling has actually been amazing for them! He has been getting speech therapy over the phone, with mom consistently implementing the therapy because they are together all day. She said he has learned a few ASL signs and he is SO excited that he is able to communicate! It was a huge breakthrough for both of them; he realized that instead of just DOING what he wants, he gets what he wants easily if he does a sign for it! It warmed my heart that she would share that with me, and I am so glad that there is some positives coming out of quarantine, and we can’t wait to see him at Camp Buckaroo! From Kenzie Richard, Camps, Easter Seals Greater Houston
Creativity and Patience – Children’s Therapy Program
“We wanted to have a family meal where everyone was sharing a nice homemade meal. Sounds pretty easy, but it wasn’t. We sought out a food therapy program to help with Edgar’s limited diet, his overeating tendencies, and his textural sensibilities. When Easter Seals started offering food therapy, we quickly signed Edgar up for it because there would be no force feeding involved, a big plus for my sweet sensitive child!
I have noticed that after starting the food therapy program with Alysia, Edgar has gone from eating a handful of foods to at least trying out different foods I never thought would be possible. I never expected results in such a short amount of time. Lettuce, strawberries, and even hamburger meat? Those foods seemed like a long shot…a goal for the long run. Yet here we are, months into the food therapy program and my child is opening up! Suddenly, sharing the same nice homemade meal with the family doesn’t seem as far-fetched as I had imagined last year!
I can honestly say that the food therapy in combination with other therapies including his occupational therapy with Alysia, Speech with Miaya, Ingrid with Music, his kindergarten teacher, his school assigned case worker, and even his school principal have all helped propel my son forward. Alysia, I can’t thank you enough! Your creativity and your patience with Edgar has shown in many areas and now with Food therapy, you have given us a gift our family will always cherish. Food is family and love! ” – -Doris, Parent, Client, Easter Seals Greater Houston, Children’s Therapy Program
We are Here (Virtually) For You
Easter Seals of Greater Houston is here for you during this difficult time and because you are among our most valuable supporters, we want to assure you that we are here to help. With the Coronavirus (CoVid19) situation changing every day, our concerns are amplified with fears of how our community will be impacted. In all of our decades of serving military families, people with disabilities and vulnerable members of our community-we have become experts in what it takes to beat the odds. Over a month ago, we began adapting our services to keep our staff and clients safe while continuing to provide as many services as possible through tele-health and virtual meet-ups. Click here to see how we continue to support our clients and their families. We have compiled as many resources as possible on Covid19 and are keeping it as up to date as possible. Use BridgingApps.org, our award winning tech technology program, for an amazing amount of on-line resources and ways to stay connected and follow them on Facebook to see new ideas, and resources daily.
Like all families, businesses and charities, Easter Seals Greater Houston has already been hit really hard by the pandemic, by the government mandated benefits and even with huge aid being put in place by Congress, our agency is not eligible for many of the government supports. We expect even more health and financial damage before this is over. With that said, we are steadfast in our commitment to our clients, who need us now more than ever and we are committed to doing whatever we can to protect our employees, serve our clients and come out of this stronger than ever. Our mission statement is, “Help. Hope. Answers.” The amazing, incomparable and unconquerable Easter Seals family will fulfill that mission of providing help, hope and answers to some of our most vulnerable neighbors during this difficult time and we are grateful to you for standing by us so that we have the resources to serve them.
Speaking of virtually.. We have also moved our Walk With Me Houston event scheduled for April 25th to #WWMVirtually as well. Please consider supporting us through the event. It will be a great way for you, your family, friends, co-workers and other social groups to interact, support the community, “do good” – great home school lesson, stay active safely and more! Follow our Facebook page for our Walk With Me Virtual Sign Up Happy Hour. Last but not least, we so appreciate our current sponsors and their continued effort and support!
If you don’t have the time to commit to walking virtually (and believe me we all understand) then please consider making a gift today to support Easter Seals Greater Houston and our programs, services, clients and their families. We depend on your stewardship and support.
Elise Hough, CEO, Easter Seals of Greater Houston
Our Easter Seals staff is amazing! We are so proud of the work they do daily. This is regarding a client in many of our programs that has Down syndrome, vision impairment and is on the autism spectrum. His mother also happens to be our BridgingApps Program Director.
“I have recently started working with Vincent on his knee, He has had a subluxed patella four times, and the last one being the worst. When I evaluated Vincent, he was very shy and didn’t want to participate or engage in physical therapy. We did the evaluation in the hall outside of the PT gym, because that was as close as we could get him at the time. I talked to him, reassured him, and made fun games out of the evaluation. We finally got him in the gym to work on the mat. Mom was concerned about him lying on the floor because this is not something he willingly does at home, but I was able to make a fun game out of it, and mom participated as well. Now the whole family is doing Vincent’s home exercise program! I have only just begun working with Vincent, and we are going at his pace for therapy. He now calls me Ms. Streisand, and I just roll with it because kids can call me anything they want to if it will get them to work, play, and have fun!”
Missy Dafler, PT, DPT, C/NDT, CKTP
We are working with Comcast Cable on their new eye gaze remote control for the TV which Time magazine says is one of the best inventions of 2019! Comcast Xfinity X1 Eye Control is one of TIME’s Best Inventions of 2019 We are very excited that our Easter Seals Greater Houston client, Alexis, was able to join us to help with the demo. Alexis’ unique way of communicating enables her to use her eyes as her mouse to navigate her on-screen keyboard and other pages of information on her tablet. AND makes her the perfect person to demonstrate the new EYE CONTROL remote for TV from Comcast! For more information on the Eye C9ontrol remote please contact Comcast! Read more about Alexis and her story below!
Alexis is a twenty-three-year-old young adult that has a physical disability known as Cerebral Palsy or (CP) which affects her muscle control of her upper and lower body extremities. She uses a wheelchair for mobility and is non-verbal. Her mother states that ” Alexis has a very sharp mind” and often described by others as a very talented young lady with such an awesome personality, a great sense of humor and is known for her beautiful contagious smile that will light up an entire room.
Alexis currently utilizes a Microsoft Pro Surface Tablet which is a Windows Base computer with the capability of eye-tracking technology to meet her communication needs. The eye-tracking technology also has a camera built-in with infrared lighting that tracks and follows the use of the retinas of her eyes as she navigates her computer (tablet) and her on-screen keyboard. Alexis’ unique way of communicating enables her to use her eyes as her mouse to navigate her on-screen keyboard and other pages of information on her tablet.
To help get a better understanding of what it means to Alexis to have access to this type of advanced technology it has not only given her independence and ” a voice” to independently communicate her own thoughts, feelings, wants, needs, likes and dislikes, but it has also given her the ability to carry on an efficient conversation with family, friends, and individuals as she looks /dwells on a specific letter, word or phrase by just the use of eye gaze. The computer then immediately makes the information readily available to be typed and seen on her screen and has the capability to put her tablet into a voice output mode similar to (text to speech) to generate a voice to speak/ read aloud Alexis’ word , sentence, and/ or any other information that she has composed. This advanced type of assistive technology also continues to help support Alexis with the necessary tools she needs to continue to strengthen her self -advocacy skills. She is also able to text, email and access the internet. She is known by her family as the ” Queen of Amazon ” as she browses and makes purchases independently and always seems to have something saved in ” her cart”.
Alexis enjoys her leisurely time attending and participating in a wide variety of community events with her family and friends. She loves going on road trips, to parks, The Rodeo, movies, the Mall, watching Netflix, Hulu, is always up for a good read and spending time with her yellow lab “Jasmine” at various dog events and visiting various dog parks.
Alexis wants to reach out to the community with a friendly reminder that her disability doesn’t define who she is … she doesn’t want people to identify her as ” the young lady with a disability “, ” the girl with Cerebral Palsy ” or ” the girl in the wheelchair”. She would like to be known by everyone as Alexis first and foremost. Alexis really appreciates when individuals see past her wheelchair and her disability and recognize her for her unique abilities instead of focusing on her disability.
Despite the daily challenges and barriers that Alexis faces she has many similar goals, dreams, and aspirations as her able-bodied peers. Alexis was educated alongside her able-bodied peers while attending public school from elementary thru her high school years. As her High School peers were doing the ” volunteer thing” she was given those same opportunities, she volunteered in the summer and really enjoyed giving back to her community. Alexis was able to develop new friendships and enlarge her friendship circle as well as gain new work-related skills while volunteering, which she hopes to be able to reach. Her current goal is working really hard on things that will enable her to carry over those work-related skills along with her technology skills to possibly gain employment soon with a local business in her community. She really feels that when given the proper training and supports and implementing her unique technology skills that she can be an asset to local business ‘.
Alexis wants to send a ” shout out” to everyone out in the community and if you happen to see Alexis when your “out and about ” please take a moment to stop by and introduce yourself! She is really looking forward to meeting you and would love to chat!
Alexis Mendoza, Easter Seals Greater Houston, Client and Alexis’ Mom
Last August, I was excited to become the Program Coordinator for BridgingApps, one of the many programs of Easter Seals Greater Houston. Before joining the BridgingApps team, I worked as a special education teacher in a variety of classrooms including resource, co-teach, inclusion, and adaptive behavior settings. As a former special education teacher, helping students with disabilities and their families remains close to my heart. Being a part of the BridgingApps team has allowed me to find and share creative ways of using technology to improve all students’ learning opportunities with my fellow educators.
As school starts up again, I wanted to share a bit about a term you may have heard lately- “Ear Reading”.
What in the world is “ear reading”? You have probably done it, but did not realize or know how helpful it can be for people of all abilities. Remember reading aloud as a child? Ever listen to an audiobook? Educators used to be taught that all children have to learn to “eye read” and maybe even inadvertently given the impression that students who were unable to do so weren’t as smart as their peers.
Dyslexia specialists and interventionists, however, have known otherwise for years!
According to their website, the International Dyslexia Association defines ear reading as a process where “rather than the written words being taken in through the eyes and processed in the brain, the verbal words are heard through the ears and then processed in the brain.”
So, how can this help in the classroom and what does it have to do with technology? I have seen first-hand the positive effects that read-alouds have on comprehension, predicting, and many other necessary reading skills. Technology has allowed us to have the power to essentially provide an appropriate level read-aloud for every child in the class (or at least for the number of electronic devices- tablets, laptops, etc. available in the classroom). It also allows those students who may not have been able to fully participate in a group discussion of a book due to their lower reading level to listen to that book and have meaningful discussions about it.
Listen to the Podcast here!
Below are a few of the apps for ear reading that you can find in our app search tool at https://search.bridgingapps.org/dashboard:
Audiobooks.com (free app for iOs and Android, free trial period and then $14.95 per month- 1 book per month)
Kids A to Z – free to download, but requires a subscription to use
Audible – free to download, but requires a subscription to listen to books
Services that your students might be eligible dependent on their diagnosis:
BARD Mobile (eligible patrons of the NLS- National Library Service, can borrow audio and braille books to use along with a braille reader on an iPad)
Bookshare: Web-based service that is free for US students with qualifying diagnoses and offered as a subscription for others.
Voice Dream Reader app can be used to access Bookshare service
Audra Success Story | Older Adult & Stroke Survivor Using Mobile Technology
Ms. Audra Evert is an amazing artist, and her home is covered with her colorful abstract paintings. She suffered a stroke some years ago, and she needed help using a desktop windows computer and a flip phone for her technology needs. Her interests include internet searches, emails, saving and sharing photos, creating word documents, and excel spreadsheets. A nephew of hers recently asked for her knowledge about the family. She developed a goal to create a family tree.
ESGH BridgingApps digital trainer, Jana Rodriguez helped Audra research a few options to create a family tree and offered the free website service FamilyEcho.com. Together Jana helped Ms. Evert create her family tree, as seen in her printed copy. A copy was also sent via PDF to her nephew. She hopes to expand the details with more research on other family members. At the beginning of this journey she dreaded the thought of how difficult this task would be. She was so pleased with the ease and design which she described as “perfect”!
Audra owns a flip phone and has been frustrated with not knowing how to take photos and then share them with others. Jana of ESGH BridgingAPPS program has been working on basic phone skills with Audra, who has been practicing manipulating photos on her phone. She is learning how to take photos, rotate and crop them, and send them to friends and family via email. She has been thrilled with her progress!
Chris is a young man in his 20’s who came to Easter Seals Greater Houston‘s BridgingApps program because of his interest in technology. He and his mother wanted to understand how he could use his mobile device to help him be more productive and organized as he began to search for a job. He owned a smart phone, but his phone was quite old and he didn’t use it for more than the basics, mostly entertainment. Part of the barrier to using his smart phone effectively was that he experienced anxiety about draining the battery, so he preferred to have it plugged into the wall, limiting his mobility.
Through a generous grant from the Hogg Foundation, BridgingApps provided Chris with a new smart phone and “one on one” trainings with Digital Learning Specialist, Tara Rocha. During one of these sessions, Tara introduced the concept of a using portable rechargeable battery pack to Chris. Because it is small and rechargeable, Chris learned to plug his smart phone into this device that eased his anxiety about draining his battery, allowing him to be more mobile immediately. He learned how to create calendar appointments, add items to task lists, back up his data, use contacts, and much more. Following each session, Chris has practiced the tasks at home with an at-home assignment.
When Tara demonstrated several app options for filling out forms using his smart phone, Chris became so excited that he could complete this task digitally! He found it difficult and laborious to fill out forms required for job searches and other kinds of forms as he moves into adulthood. Writing has been a challenge for him, but he is much more eager to use his phone for this task. We wish Chris the best of luck as he continues his job search, and we will continue to keep in touch as he makes progress towards his goals.