Visual timetable for Autistic children

20140206-064810.jpgSince he was two years old our son has been using PECS to communicate as even though he can makes sounds and says a few years words he is, at the time of writing, pre verbal. Before PECS he was a very frustrated little boy as he didn’t have a voice but once introduced he took to it immediately and was, and still is, the brightest student on his speech and language therapist’s books.

Jake unlike a lot of autistic children isn’t set on routine and we hadn’t bothered with a visual timetable for quite sometime. He responded well to it though during sessions at the hospital to guide him through the tasks they wanted him to take part it. We decided to try it at home as a way of encouraging him to play games with us, brush his teeth and eat dinner.

I have to say we wished we had done it sooner as it made Jake much more compliant, with a little bribery such as placing an iPad card after breakfast, as Jake realised that there was an order to things. It did come as a bit of a shock just how much he loves it as when coming down in the morning if there aren’t cards on the schedule he’ll lift it off the fridge and bring it to us as he likes to know the plan ahead. 🙂

We’re quite lucky though as some autistic children we get a little upset if the order of the cards are changed but Jake’s pretty easy going as sometimes if we are running late we may have to remove the odd card but explain that it will happen later instead. We’ve found it’s particularly useful as a night time routine as a typical order will be dinner, iPad, play, nappy, get dressed, brush teeth, story, bed.

We have since bought one for the pre-school our son attends and they have also commented on how useful a tool it has been at helping to structure the day as Jake is more relaxed and willing to go along with certain tasks such as getting his plimsolls on or waiting on the matt if there’s going to stories or computer time ahead. All in all if you have an autistic child give it a go even if you think, like Jake, they’re not set on routine.

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Autism and the visual timer

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Most children with Autism, and indeed without, love their iPads and technology. My son is no different and it was becoming increasingly difficult to persuade him to relinquish his iPad and move onto playing with something else. After some research and speaking with professionals we found the Learning Resources Time Tracker and what a difference it has made.

Essentially it’s a traffic light system enabling you to set different times for each zones and a different sound. Our son Jake instantly took to it and loves the fact he knows how long he has and when it will be ending. To our amazement once the rules were explained he handed back to us the iPad when the buzzer rang without prompting and moved onto to something else. Of course we have the odd times where he has a grumble and kicks up a fuss but mainly when he’s tired. We had also tried using sand timers before but found Jake responds better to a countdown with visual/sound aids.

Since getting the timer some of our friends with and without autistic children and purchased one and all had positive results. We mainly use it for the iPad but have found it useful with other things such as limiting time watching telly and one especially good use is the “ten minutes until bedtime” routine we have devised. Again once the buzzer goes Jake take’s my hand ready to walk upstairs to bed. 🙂

Good Riddance Windows Phone

For years I had an Apple phone but had gotten bored last year and decided to try out the new Windows Nokia Lumia 920 Phone. It was ok but had hardly any apps and was prone to locking up, losing texts and generally going tits up. Still it wasn’t all bad and had some nice features such as the live tiles.

I was fortunate enough to be given an Apple Phone and without hesitation and my tail between my legs I jumped at the chance and ditched my Nokia. Yes, the Apple iPhone hasn’t moved on a great deal but you get what you pay for. Slick, fast and it works. Windows Phone you had some nice features but was buggy and lacking depth.

For me this is summed up when I went to sell the phone. I copied off my photos and used the reset phone option that’s available on the Lumia 920. Easy I thought, no no no this is Windows! Because the phone wasn’t fully re-charged it started the reset process but didn’t have enough power to properly reboot and finish the job….

How crap is that! Surely you would build that into the reset option to ensure that it wouldn’t start a process it couldn’t finish??? Looking online people who had fallen to a similar fate had to get a brand new phone to resolve the problem. Fortunately, Nokia have since released some kit, download of 1.3Gb, that you have to download that lets you recover the device and finish the process.

If you have suffered the same as I a guide to fix the issue is available here: http://mynokiablog.com/2013/10/11/how-to-easily-fix-the-lumia-reset-spinning-cogs-at-home/. This just about sums up Apple vs. Windows. One puts the user and stability first. The other will throw it out there and sort it out later… Apple I have learnt my lesson.