Assistive Technology Specialist Laurie G. McGowan and AT Director Sandy Masayko participated in the Assistive Technology Industry Conference in Orlando in early February. Laurie devoted two days to a special workshop, iPad Bootcamp, to develop skills in adapting iPads for access, new uses and communication. In the larger conference she focused on workshops addressing assistive technology in early childhood and in adapting play. Sandy concentrated on workshops that addressed implementing eye gaze technology with children and providing effective professional development. In addition to the formal presentations, Laurie and Sandy were able to exchange ideas with other practitioners from all over the country in an informal EduCamp that was set up as a series of roundtable discussions. Sandy and Laurie will be implementing the new ideas in the coming year at Easter Seals.
by Jennifer Greener
Children at the Yaffe Center were delighted to meet, pet and brush Beesly, a service dog in training from Paws & Affection. Beesly, a handsome white Labradoodle with a calm and friendly disposition, demonstrated some of his many skills to the children and staff. He can turn on lights, pick up dropped objects, open a door, and give a person a steady body for support when the person gets up from a chair. Each child had the opportunity to touch Beesly’s soft fur and stroke him with a grooming brush. Beesly loved the attention and the opportunity to make the children happy.
Beesly was accompanied by the directors and trainers at Paws & Affection, Laura O’Kane & Susie Daily as well as board member and dog trainer, Michaela Greif. Beesly will be ready for a full time service assignment this summer in either a facility environment or with an individual with physical disabilities. In the meantime, coming to school helps Beesly learn how to interact in a new situation with a wide variety of people. We are excited that Beesly will be returning to the Yaffe Center on a regular basis.
Beesly’s second visit yielded even more excitement than the first. All of the children were more alert, excited, engaged and relaxed with their new friend. During the recent visit, Beesly started working on some functional activities with our children. He helped a few children transition in and out of chairs, stand up from seated positions and stabilize themselves in order to stand and do an activity unaided by staff. This support enabled the children to be more independent despite their physical limitations! Beesly would also “get” requested objects and take them to the designated child or staff assisting children as part of their circle time and group activities. Some of the children also worked on fine motor skills such as opening their hands and using pincher grasp to feed Beesly his well-deserved treats! Our children, of course, had plenty opportunity to interact with Beesly; and there was much affection going on by our children, staff and Beesly alike!
Beesly has 3 more bi-weekly scheduled visits at Yaffe Center, after which time the Paws & Affection and Easter Seals teams will discuss additional opportunities for Beesly to work with our program.
Paws & Affection aims to place service dogs with children and teens aged 9-17 who have physical disabilities. For more information about Paws & Affection please visit their website: http://pawsandaffection.org/ or call 610-949-0490.
by Sandra Masayko
Easter Seals Bucks County Division was visited recently by three Repair Angels! Daniel Frank, a mechanical engineering graduate student at the University of Florida, recruited two of his friends, Adam Smith of Bethlehem and Corazón Irizarry of Philadelphia to help Easter Seals Assistive Technology Department get broken electronic toys repaired and back into the classrooms. Adam is an electronics technician and Corazón is a medical student at the University of Pennsylvania. Together these volunteers soldered, wired, glued and reconstructed dozens of toys. This saved Easter Seals thousands of dollars in replacement costs and more importantly, brought the toys back into the classrooms where children learn through play and manipulation of the toys. Thank you Repair Angels!
JJ was an Honorary Ambassador for Walk With Me two years in a row! His mom shares what he has been up to since the last Walk.
JJ has been doing great since graduating from Easter Seals this past June. He misses all his friends, teachers and therapists, but has been fortunate to keep in touch with some of them.
He started Kindergarten in September at a private school in Philadelphia and has been thriving. He has started babbling more and tries to repeat words and songs tunes. JJ has also learned to independently switch between 2 games on his iPad. All that OT paid off!! He does continue to receive services at school – OT, PT, ST and Vision.
His new found obsession is watching the Family Feud with Steve Harvey! He LOVES his man “Eve” and we must watch every night! Thankfully the family likes the show too.
JJ can’t wait for June to see some old friends at the Walk With Me event!!