Supporting Children with Technology-Based Solutions

GROWING THE SKILLS OF INDEPENDENCE

Smart-home technology: It’s not just for adults! Smart technology can be extremely beneficial to children, providing them with natural supports. Developing independent living skills from a young age prepares children for the transition to adulthood and community-based living. Assistive technology can create opportunities for children to learn to be more independent while supporting their health and safety.

“The technology has been such a blessing. As a single parent, it was difficult for me to monitor Anissa round the clock. Now I can be on the opposite side of the house from Anissa and know if she goes into the kitchen or leaves the house in search of food,” says Janet Smith, mother of Anissa, a teenager with developmental disabilities.

MEET ANISSA

Like most teenagers, Anissa wants to have more independence at home and in the community. With her diagnoses of Prader-Willi syndrome and developmental disabilities, however, Anissa has needed intensive monitoring to keep her healthy and safe. When her mother first contacted us, she was supervising Anissa around the clock so that she didn’t overeat or leave the home in search of food.

Anissa spent 6 months at a Prader-Willi treatment facility where she was able to learn many life skills to help her manage her behavior and weight. When it was time to return home, her mother and the care coordinator contacted SimplyHome in search of ways to encourage Anissa to continue to make good decisions.

Through the assessment with SimplyHome, Janet decided that door sensors, a bed pressure pad, and a few motion sensors would provide the assurance the family needed while supporting Anissa’s independence. The sensor-based technology not only sends alerts to Janet’s cell phone, but also provides audible notifications within the home.

OUTCOMES FOR ANISSA & HER FAMILY:

Anissa soon learned that when the system created alerts, her family would come check on her. As a result, she learned to redirect her own behavior, by returning to bed when she needs to and not leaving the home without supervision. Her mother notes that with the technology, the family no longer takes shifts to sit up at night, and as a result, her mother has been able to go back to work.

Mother and daughter

For Anissa to be more independent, the family wanted to teach her skills regarding:

  • Self-control related to eating outside of mealtime routines
  • Staying upstairs at night
  • Visiting relatives across the street by herself

Anissa’s system was designed to include motion sensors, a bed pressure pad and door sensors to:

  • Capture movement in certain areas of the home after school and at night
  • Help prevent ingress and egress during early morning and late night hours
  • Alert her and her family if she did not return to bed at night within a certain timeframe

The SimplyHome technology sequences activate only at certain times of day:

  • When Anissa is home
  • When Anissa needs a “teachable moment” to address or re-direct her behaviors
  • When Anissa’s safety requires natural support from family

Though Anissa is still a teenager, Anissa’s family is focused on her future, planning for her success as an adult. As Janet says, “We know we are not going to be around forever. If we don’t start supporting Anissa’s independence now, then she won’t have as many choices when she’s an adult.”

 

To find out more about SimplyHome technology, and how it can support the independent living skills of children and adults, contact us by requesting a free assessment.

 

 

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Five Transition Tips for Children with Special Needs

Though this article is specific to families in New Jersey, it is a great list to consider as children with special needs approach the age of 18. This is an age in which a lot of transitions occur for all children, but for those with special needs it is imperative they continue to have the supports in place they need for life after 18.

Five Transition Tips for Children with Special NeedsGirl with Downs Gardening

written by: Amanda Oglesby, @OglesbyAPP

Growing up isn’t easy, and it can be particularly difficult for children with developmental and intellectual disabilities and the parents who care for them.

Each year thousands of students with special needs “age out” of services provided by their schools. Their care under the New Jersey Department of Education comes to an end.

Thirty-six percent of students between the ages of 3 and 21 had a learning disability in the 2011-12 school year, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

By 18, people with developmental disabilities such as autism are considered adults under New Jersey, even if they need continuing care and educational services. Schools provide their services until age 21, but afterward, parents need to seek services through the state Division of Developmental Disabilities or Division of Vocational Rehabilitation Services.

“Age 18 is an important age when thinking about transition and the future,” said Anne Marie Mazzu, an attorney who specializes in trusts and estates and who works at Davison Eastman & Munoz, a law firm with offices in Freehold, Toms River and Red Bank. Mazzu also has a 20-year-old son with autism, and she is preparing for his transition from school to life after.

“The last thing you want to do is to have an autistic child at home at age 21 without getting any support,” she said. “You will see regression.”

Click here to see what the five transition tips are that are recommended by attorney Anne Marie Mazzu.

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.

Pope Greets Children With Special Needs

Special Needs Kids with Pope

Pope Francis interacted with children on the autism spectrum as he encouraged people everywhere to be open to the needs of people on the spectrum. He is hopeful that this will help to break “the isolation and, in many cases also the stigma” attached to disorders on the autism spectrum.

One parent said “For us, we are parents of a child affected with autism, this meeting was very important. It was as an outstretched hand through a problem that is very often not considered in the right way.”

This is an incredible example of how we need to see people for who they are, not for what they are impacted by. With over 7,000 people in the Vatican for this interaction, the Pope was able to show his love and support for the autism spectrum community along with people of all abilities and talents in a big way.

See the full interactions of the Pope with special needs children here.

 

“Deciding Who They Want To Be: Young Adults With Special Needs Make Transition From School”

The article “Deciding Who They Want To Be: Young Adults With Special Needs Make Transition From School” by Aimee Caruso addresses the important topic that many families with special needs face: What’s next? After kids with special needs are out of high school, the matter of what comes next can be a hard one. For some families the decision may be obvious. For others, it may not be. Caruso addresses a few different options that families have and provides real examples from real people on how they have handled “What’s next?”

 “Deciding Who They Want To Be: Young Adults With Special Needs Make Transition From School” by Aimee Caruso

By Aimee Caruso

Valley News Staff Writer

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Leah Wright, 22, has spent the past few months settling back into the town she lived in until she was 11.

After graduating from Perkins School for the Blind in Massachusetts, she returned to Windsor, where she and her family have been laying the groundwork for the next chapter of her life.

On the weekdays, while her parents are working, she attends a special education program. Recently, Leah took a part-time job at a local convenience store — she likes the people and the pocket money.

Frank Vanek graduated from Woodstock Union High School in 2011, and soon after, his mother left her job to be his full-time caregiver. “Frankie,” now 23, is “ a sweet boy” with a good sense of humor, said Delia Vanek. Still, their life together isn’t easy. Money is tight and she has little time to herself. But Frank, a tall, burly guy whose special needs include a stress disorder, can be unpredictable, and his mother said she knows better than anyone how to help him.

Ryan Guidotti, 26, tried a number of different jobs after high school before he found his place. Long interested in health care, Guidotti completed Project Search, a school-to-work program for young adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities based at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center. Soon after, he landed a job at DHMC that really suits him, as well as an apartment of his own in Lebanon.

While they are in school, people with special needs are entitled to certain services and supports. But after graduating, they enter what is often called a “non-entitlement system ” —that is, services are not guaranteed. As young adults prepare to leave the cocoon of school, their parents face questions familiar to anyone who has raised a child. Where will he live? How will she cover her living expenses? How much support will she need?

Read the rest of the article here.

Special Planning for Special Needs Children

 

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Brady Murray and his wife were elated at the birth of their son, Nash. However, on account of Nash having Down syndrome, Murray and his wife had a little bit of financial rearranging to do. Take a look at the steps that Murray, a financial adviser, took and learn about the non profit the Murray family founded to benefit orphans with Down syndrome.

 

Take a look at the full article here

The Caregiving Worries of Parents with Special Needs Kids

If you are concerned about your loved one with special needs, you are not alone. Everyday worries are typical, but long-term concerns are sometimes overlooked. When those concerns begin to come to the forefront, they can be overwhelming, but you are not alone. Take a look at the facts and figures Sally Abrahms from AARP has and her advice and snip it’s from people who are having these thoughts.

The Caregiving Worries of Parents with Special Needs Children

CaregivingWorries_Blog_Pic

Written by: Sally Abrahms    AARP

Most of us think about taking care of our aging parents or spouse, not our kids. But there are more than 11 million Americans currently providing care for a family member between the ages of 18 and 49. Many worry deeply about their loved one’s future should something unexpectedly happen to them or their spouse.

“I worry night and day,” a friend told me. “What happens to my daughter when I’m no longer here?” Her daughter, now 27, has had neurological, physical and cognitive deficits since she was a baby. (My friend also has an older brother with schizophrenia. Fortunately, he is a veteran and receives care and housing through the government. But he is nearby and spends some weekends and all holidays with her.)

The number of Americans caring for younger people will only increase as the first wave of young men and women diagnosed with autism as children come of age. And there are many more behind them. While some are functional, a huge number of them will not be able to live independently and will need significant help. This will have an unquestionable impact on health care and caregivers.

See full article here

Special needs trusts: Helping parents provide for kids’ futures

This is good information for our families with disabilities.  Take a look at what CNCB has to say about saving up for yours and your kid’s future.  SimplyHome is here to provide families with disabilities smart options for caring for families with disabilities and other special needs.

Special needs trusts: Helping parents provide for kids’ futures

Written by: Jennifer Woods

Saturday, 31 May 2014 | 2:00 PM ETCNBC.com

Caring for children with special needs can require a lot of financial and logistical planning to ensure they’re experiencing the best quality of life possible.

But what many parents don’t adequately plan for is the possibility that they won’t be around to manage and fund their child’s care. Not having a well-thought-out plan—or having no plan at all—to care for children with special needs once you’re unable to could have a devastating impact on their lifestyle and well-being.

“One of the biggest things for special needs parents, and what I worry about more than anything, is [whether] my son [will] be provided for as well in the future, after I’m gone, as he is now,” said certified financial planner Ken Van Leeuwen, managing director at Van Leeuwen & Co. and father of a teenage son with special needs.

“When you come to the realization that your child has special needs, you need to start planning,” he said, adding, “You want to try as best as you can to keep your child in the same lifestyle. You don’t want them to be just dependent on federal or state programs.”

The government offers medical and financial assistance to people with special needs through programs such as Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income to offset the high costs of care. Unfortunately, these programs, at best, support a person at the poverty line.

Read Full Article Here

 

GPS Tracking Devices: What to Consider When Researching Trackers

_DSC0971Jake is a cheerful and curious child who enjoys exploring his environment.  His mother, Dreama, called us with concerns because he was running from his school classroom. Jake does not communicate verbally so Dreama was worried that if he left the campus, he would get lost and not be able to ask for assistance. She called SimplyHome asking about a GPS device that could be attached to Jake and provide tracking to locate him.

Given cellular technology, there is a wide range of GPS products in the market today.  Most are sold as pendants or watches, but innovations in equipment have even led to the creation of GPS trackers being embedded in shoes.  Just as with any product, GPS equipment varies in price, service, and effectiveness so you may want to consider the following guidelines when researching trackers:

  • What kind of cellular service is needed for the device to be tracked?  Some units only work if a particular cellular phone service is available.
  • What kind of range does the tracker have?  There is a misconception that GPS trackers can locate/pinpoint someone directly where they are.  Ask about the distance involved in determining the location of the device.
  • What kind of services are offered and what fees are associated with them?  Does the company just provide tracking or is there a “geofence” option?  A geofence is an area around a particular location that if a person leaves that area, a notification can be sent.
  • What are the fees associated with the equipment?  The cost of the product may not include the cost of tracking and/or notifications.
  • How are notifications delivered?  Are they automated or is there a call center involved?  Are there text, phone call and/or email options?

SimplyHome’s GPS Care Watch

The Care Watch is actually a tiny cellphone combined with an ultra-accurate GPS location system. Users are completely protected wherever GSM cell service exists. Worn as a watch or a pendant, it’s activated with the simple push of a button.

More Information

 

Study: Parents Get Little Help for Autistic Kids Who Wander

Technology can assist with elopement and give peace of mind to parents.
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kryczka / Getty Images

Parents of autistic children say that one of the most stressful behaviors they have to contend with is their child wandering off alone — so much so that it prevents families from engaging in activities outside the home — and half of parents with concerns about their child’s straying say they haven’t received any guidance or advice on preventing the behavior.

In the first study to gauge how commonly kids with autism spectrum disorders wander, or “elope,” researchers found that half of 1,367 surveyed families with autistic children aged 4 to 17 said their child had wandered away at least once after age 4. Among those families, more than half said their child had disappeared long enough to cause concern.

(MORE: Autism: Why Some Children ‘Bloom’ and Overcome their Disabilities)

Forty-three percent of parents whose children had gone missing said their child’s wandering prevented family members from getting a good night’s sleep, and 62% reported that the autistic child’s tendency to elope prevented their family from attending or enjoying activities outside the home.

Autistic children who wandered off were also likely to experience “close calls” — 65% of wandering children were at risk for traffic accidents and 24% were at risk for drowning — and police were called in a third of cases.

“There are an alarming rate of elopements and it is an incredibly common behavior that children with autism engage in,” says lead study author Dr. Paul Law, senior author and director of the Interactive Autism Network (IAN) at the Kennedy Krieger Institute. “They frequently go missing, and often have dangerous encounters.”

Read the Full Article: Parents Get Little Help for Autistic Kids Who Wander