Independent Living: Jackson Lockhart

“I want to live on my own.”  Jackson’s mother heard the words, but wasn’t sure her son understood what that meant.  After explaining to him that he would have to cook for himself, remember to take his medication, and get up on time for work, Jackson looked at her and repeated, “I want to live on my own.”

Even though Ms. Lockhart knew this day would come, she had some concerns about Jackson’s request.   Her son had been diagnosed with autism at an early age and his behavior impacted his communication and reasoning abilities when he got  overstimulated or needed help.  As a parent, Ms. Lockhart had some reservations about Jackson’s safety and wellbeing, but as his advocate, she knew that transitioning to supported community living was the best alternative for her son.

As youth with disabilities transition into the adult world, families begin exploring residential options.  Whether the choice is living at home, living with peers, or living alone, assistive technology offers natural supports to monitor safety and enhance independence.

SimplyHome integrates both simple and sophisticated products into a customized system to achieve the outcomes desired by individuals and their families.  During the assessment with Jackson’s mother, we learned that her priorities included:

  • Cooking safely—Jackson just needed a reminder if the stove was left on too long.
  • Medication compliance—Jackson could take his medication independently, but she had to remind him periodically when it was time for his next dose.
  • Egress—Jackson liked going to work so much so that sometimes, he would leave too early to wait for the bus.  He also had a tendency to wander outside at night.

In an effort to create some natural supports for Jackson, we designed a system that included a medication dispenser as well as our Butler sensor system.   The wireless sensors not only alert Ms. Lockhart but also provide audible cues to Jackson.  If he doesn’t respond to the cue to turn off the stove or go back inside and wait for the bus, then Ms. Lockhart is notified and can give her son a call.

With more states providing Medicaid waivers for residential assistive technology, young adults with autism have same opportunity that Jackson does: to live as independently as possible.

What happens when I call SimplyHome?

We welcome any and all inquiries about how technology can be used to promote independence. Our process starts with a comprehensive assessment over the phone or in a home, followed by a detailed system recommendation. All complimentary!!

Who do we consider?

  • Individuals who are being considered or advocating for independent living, supported community settings, or transitional homes.
  • Individuals who have 24/7 staffing for “just in case” situations but do not necessarily need around the clock supervision.
  • Individuals who will be in an apartment setting with a staff apartment onsite.

 What are our goals?

            Our goals are the same as yours. We are looking to create an environment where everyone is comfortable, safe and independent. We will also achieve:

  • Enhanced safety features that promote peace of mind for the family and individual
  • Proactive rather than reactive staff response
  • Reduction of on-site staffing for “just in case” situations such as during night hours
  • Reports of trends in data demonstrating the technology’s effectiveness; can be shared with funders, state agencies, legislators, etc.

 Using the SimplyHome Butler System as the base, your system could also use: 

  • Door sensors on external doors
  • Motion sensors (if trying to determine whether someone is entering vs. exiting)
  • 1 Panic pendant
  • 1 Medication dispenser (if applicable)

When using a SimplyHome System, unique features and rules are set to accommodate the needs and wants of individuals and their families. Those rules can include:

1. When paging pendant is activated to request help

2. When medicine dispenser door is/is not opened

3. If a person has/has not left the home during a certain period of time

4. If a caregiver, staff person or community person has entered the home during a certain period of time (such as after a paging pendant has been pressed or when services are supposed to take place)


8 Smart Ideas People Have Had About Aging In Place

Staying healthy at all ages is important. As people age, it becomes more vital to keep an active mind and an active heart. Sometimes it is as easy as sitting down and having a conversation with someone. Take a look at the 8 things Huffington Post say are important in order for people to age in place.

8 Smart Ideas People Have Had About Aging In Place

The Huffington Post  |  By

Baby boomers have long proclaimed their desire to stay in their homes post-retirement, a practice known as aging in place. They want to stay in the communities where they have friends, know their way around and have a support network. Cities and communities have “heard” them and many places are preparing for the groundswell of what happens when their residents creep up in years. Building a senior citizen center is nice, but clearly there’s more to it than having a place to play Bingo. Here are a few of the programs and trends that are making a difference in the lives of the nation’s aging population.

1. Solve the “driving is my independence” problem once and for all.
Older drivers have slower reaction times and more vision issues. Per mile traveled, fatal crash rates increase starting at age 75 and increase notably after age 80, according to the Centers for Disease Control. But the ability to drive is synonymous with independence and independent living, so many older people are reluctant to give up their automobiles.

Twenty years ago, inspired by a desire to keep unsafe drivers off the road after an 84-year-old motorist struck and seriously injured her toddler son, Katherine Freund started the Independent Transportation Network. ITN was launched in Portland Maine and has now spread to 25 cities. People who are 65 or older (or visually impaired), pay a modest fee and are provided a ride to where they need to go, a door-to-door escort and assistance. Forty-six percent of ITN customers have an annual income of less than $25,000 and only 2 percent found the service too expensive.

Best of all, seniors can trade in their cars and earn ride credits. Rides are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, for any purpose.

2. Acknowledge the need to sit down.
Age-Friendly NYC wants to encourage older adults to get out to walk, shop and socialize. So the goal of this program is to install 1,500 park benches throughout the city for people to sit on. Before you scoff, remember that New York is the city that doesn’t sleep. It also doesn’t stop and rest much. There are 1 million people over 65 living in NYC, and by 2030 this number is expected to increase by 50 percent, according to the program’s website. Age-Friendly NYC also connects older New Yorkers to opportunities at NYC-area colleges and universities.

3. Make it easy to keep the brain active.
The Bernard Osher Foundation has established Lifelong Learning Institutes for adults 50 and older on 119 college and university campuses. Many community campuses allow those 65 or older to audit free uncredited courses.

Publications are printing more large print books too. Large-print crossword puzzles and word-solving games are also available.

4. Understand that eating healthy food keeps people healthier.
While everyone knows about Meals On Wheels, which delivers already prepared meals to shut-ins, not everybody wants to stop cooking for themselves. Buying groceries though can involve the need to drive and/or carry heavy bags home. In 2014, the Food For Free programs in Cambridge Massachusetts distributed 1.5 million pounds of food. It began its home delivery program in 2001, serving 12 clients that first year. Now it’s up to about 100 housebound elders. It gives seniors and people with disabilities more control over their meals, while providing a supportive service that helps them to stay in their own homes, says the group’s website. Two 40- to 45-pound food deliveries are made each month to clients and half the food delivered is fresh produce.

And there’s Mom’s Meals, which for less than $7 a meal will deliver freshly made meals that just need to be heated up and can keep up to 14 days. Mom’s Meals ships by FedEx and offer menus for diabetics and heart patients, vegans and those who are gluten-free.

5. Doctors who make house calls.
While doctors making house calls used to be a common practice a few decades ago, it’s practically unheard of now. But it’s enjoying a second life in North Carolina. Doctors Making Housecalls is a medical group of 52 clinicians who make more than 75,000 home visits a year in private residences, retirement communities, apartments and assisted living facilities in North Carolina. This is an idea that’s bound to spread, along with some routine medical procedures being handled online.

6. Encourage the building of more lifelong housing.
Rogue Valley, Oregon, has a “lifelong housing” certification program whereby home builders and sellers can have their homes certified as such. The checklist of desirable housing features includes a no-step entry, a first floor full bath, etc. The certification levels are noted in MLS listings so homebuyers seeking age-friendly/multi-generational housing can more easily find appropriate housing and housing creators will hopefully be more encouraged to create age-friendly housing, says AARP.

7. Build a park and they will come.
A vacant field in Wichita, Kansas, was turned into a grandparents park — an outdoor space that children and grandparent (caregivers) could enjoy together.

8. Help keep people active.
Brownsville, Texas, has a very poor, overweight population with high diabetes rates. One in four residents is age 50 or older. The city hosts several “CycloBias” a year in which streets are closed off to cars so that people can walk, bicycle and participate in health-targeted activities.

Have you heard about any programs helping people age in place? Let us know about them in comments.



See the original article here.

School Locker 3D Printing Hack

“Creativity, as has been said, consists largely of rearranging what we know in order to find out what we do not know. Hence, to think creatively, we must be able to look afresh at what we normally take for granted.” — George Kneller

These New Jersey students were not afraid to get creative. They saw a need of a fellow classmate and knew they could alleviate it. With quite a few prototypes, some time and creativity, they were able to help a younger student with a task that many of us take for granted.

NJ Students Design 3D Printed Handle to Enable a Disabled Classmate to Open Her Locker


Sometimes physical activities which might seem like simple, everyday tasks are more difficult than they appear for some people. A senior at Newton High School in New Jersey, Justin Hermann, is one of those who take notice of the people around him, and Hermann used 3D printing to lend a hand to a fellow student.

Hermann had noticed that one of his freshman classmates was having a hard time opening her locker, and that gave him an idea.


He saw that the hallway lockers are designed in such a way that opening them requires a user to pinch the handles and lift them. The freshman in question faced a physical challenge which made that seemingly simple task a real headache.

So under the mentorship of technology teacher Brian Bennington and with the help of junior student Robert Borgognoni, the trio used 3D printers available them in their advanced principal design class to create a plastic handle to modify the student’s locker.

Borgognoni took on the task of designing a plastic cover for the handle inSolidWorks, while Hermann provided the conceptual framework for the project.

“We went through multiple prototypes,”

 Borgognoni told the New Jersey Herald.

Photo by Tracy Klimek/New Jersey Herald - Newton High School students junior Robert Borgognoni, left, and senior Justin Hermann, right, hold prototypes of handles for a locker as they stand if front of 3D printers on Thursday December 18, 2014, in teacher Brian Bennington's Advanced Principal Design class in the school.

The pair took three weeks to design and produce the final product, and the last iteration of the print took nearly a full day to output.

Hermann said working on the project opened his eyes to what 3D printing technology can do when correctly applied.

Newton High School has a pair of MakerBot 3D printers, and according to Bennington, having the machines on-site allows his students to think differently, and that’s led them to explore new ideas on their own initiative rather than waiting for an assignment..

“For a teacher, that’s like a dream,” Bennington said.

The handle is attached to the locker with a bolt that passes through it, and that allows for the device to essentially bypass the latch.

The design has been in use since the beginning of November, and Hermann and Borgognoni say their classmate simply has to slip her hand in the device and pull to open the locker open. When not in use, the locker stays shut via magnets installed to take care of the job.

Bennington adds that 3D printing solutions haven’t been limited to Hermann and Borgognoni’s project. He says the 3D printers have also produced a trumpet mouthpiece for the music department.

The technology has also provided the students with a vision of their futures after school as well.

“This project made me realize that what I want to do is open up my own company for biomedical engineering. What I want to do is mass produce products and inventions to help handicapped people,” says Hermann.

For his part, Borgognoni says he plans to pursue further studies in the engineering field.

What benefits do you see to students who get the chance to work with 3D printers as part of their education? Did you have a 3D printer at your school? Talk about 3D printing in education and your experience with the technology in the Students Hack School Locker with 3D Printing forumthread on


See the original article here


Siblings of special-needs children: They are their brother’s keeper

Often times the parents of children are mentioned. While parents probably play the biggest role in the life of a child with special needs, there is another big time player in their life: their siblings. Brothers and sisters of a child with special needs play a special role in that they are closer to their age and understand some of the struggles of growing up in a way that is different than the parent may view the child’s life. Siblings are typically the ones who go to school and experience life together. This being the case, having a sibling with special needs heightens a child’s sense of empathy and compassion in a way that other children may not understand.  Check out this article highlighting the siblings of special needs kids. 

Siblings of special-needs children: They are their brother’s keeper

It’s a funny dichotomy.
Parents of special-needs children are often recognized and lauded for their unflagging service to their children. Yet, the non-disabled siblings of the same families can go unnoticed.

It’s tempting to look at the challenges of such a family and conclude that having a sibling with a disability is a damaging burden — one which can marginalize and embitter the brothers or sisters of a child with special needs. We might feel it is a tragedy
not only for the child with special needs, but also for the siblings.

It isn’t the case, though.

In my family, which includes two boys who have multiple disabilities as well as two typical boys, I’ve seen the opposite. The same is true in the myriad families I know who had both disabled and non-disabled children.

Siblings of a special-needs kid are the lucky ones, because they grow into people who understand selflessness.

Screen Shot 2014-11-20 at 4.01.05 PMThey learn at a tender age to serve and have endless opportunities to offer unending service at home.

My eldest son has never known anything different. At age 6, he started washing his own hair in the bath before instinctively reaching over to wash his 4-year-old brother’s hair as well. In the car, he buckled his little brother’s seatbelt automatically before buckling his own. Now as a middle-schooler, he picks up the toddler when the 10-year-old starts violently rampaging. He calmly talks to the 6-year-old, whose anxiety can spin out of control. He watches over his younger brothers with gentleness.

Read the rest of the article here.

Technology Levels Field For Those with Disabilities

Time and time again we see that access to technology continues to grow through Innovations Waivers and other allowances through insurance and other measures. This access is proving fruitful for those with disabilities and continues to level the playing field in the academic and professional realms.

Whether an individual was born with a disability or developed on through childhood by an accident or through genetics, life goes on, but the difficulties continue. For Andrew Olivier, a broken back as a child lead to paralysis from the neck down due to fractured spinal cord. Since sports were out of the question after the accident, his efforts were focused on his schoolwork. Olivier was a candidate for public office in Canada and recently spoke about new technologies providing new opportunities for people every day.

Take a look at the full article where Olivier talks about assistive technologies in his own life and in the lives of others. 

Autism Awareness Month

April is Autism Awareness Month. With World Autism Day being April 2, the rest of the month is about continuing to inform people about the Autism Spectrum.

Autism is a bio-neurological developmental disability that is typically visible before the age of 3. Autism impacts the normal development of the brain in the areas of social interaction, communication skills, and cognitive functions. Individuals with autism typically have difficulties in verbal and non-verbal communication, social interactions and leisure activities. People with autism often experience multiple medical conditions along with autism. Those can include allergies, asthma, epilepsy, digestive disorders, feeding disorders, sensory integration dysfunction, among many others.

Did you know …

  • Autism now affects 1 in 68 children and 1 in 42 boys
  • Autism prevalence figures are growing
  • Autism is the fastest-growing developmental disorder in the U.S.
  • Autism costs a family $60,000 a year on average
  • Boys are nearly five times more likely than girls to have autism
  • There is no medical detection or cure for autism
  • Autism is treatable and not a hopeless condition
  • Autism is the fastest growing developmental disorder, yet the most underfunded

(Facts from National Autism Association and Autism Speaks)

Give Technology A Try

With 97% of seniors wanting to reside in their own home for as long as possible, it is crucial that proper steps are taken in order for that to happen. Though this is a desire for almost the entire aging population, less than half of them have done research in order to find ways to make this dream a reality. On account of the lack of research done, it often does not turn out favoring the aging. Often families turn to traditional ways of caring for the aging; that being assisted living or nursing home.

Though the traditional route is not a bad option, it is often not what the person it is affecting the most wanted. It does, however, make sense as to why people would want their aging parents to be in a facility that is assisted living or a nursing home. They take a sigh of relief because they are assured that their loved one is getting the care they need. However, not all people thrive in such an environment. Often, the person does not want to be in a place like that, but would rather prefer to be at home where they are comfortable.

Technology for aging is often overlooked on account of lack of knowledge and the fear of being watched over all the time. Trying something new can be intimidating, but in the case of assistive technology, it almost always proves fruitful.  No matter if the technology is needed for medication monitoring cooking safety such as a stove or oven monitor or if it is a bit more extensive like a system that monitors daily living sequences, there are options that are totally user friendly and provide personalized outcomes.

Knowing that is only step one. Step two is doing some research on what you or your loved one actually needs. Are you afraid of falling and not having the ability to call someone? Are you worried about taking medicine on time? Is wandering of concern? With the help of family and professionals, it is crucial to decide what your priorities look like.

Step three is giving it a try. Technology can be for everyone just so long as everyone is on board with it. Often is it a challenge if not everyone is committed to the technology because then it either goes unused or is misused in which case it is not assistive technology because it loses its assistive aspect.

Be encouraged that this technology is not in an effort to be “Big Brother,” but rather to be an attentive caretaker, even from a distance.