iTaalk Autism Foundation is a 501c3 Non Profit, providing interactive technology education and solutions to individuals with autism and related special needs, their parents and the professionals that serve them.
Have you ever seen an app on sale or even FREE, and thought "it looks great, but not for my kid" or "I don't even know how to use it"?  This Practical APPlication blog will feature free or discounted apps and provide practical tips on using them in ways you may not have even considered! 

Brooke Olson, President of iTaalk Autism Foundation with Aidan (July 2011, iPad Recipient)
"Getting rid of the Guilty" using MY CHOICE BOARDS by Good Karma Apps

Struggle, seems to be the word of the decade in “our” (Special Needs) world.  We struggle to get places on time, we struggle to keep our kids happy (content), struggle to understand them and ourselves, struggle to pay for therapies, struggle to struggle!!!  But the biggest…keeping our children engaged in those unstructured times at home (after school and on weekends).  I feel at constant battle with myself, guilty about not getting things done around the house in exchange for playing/keeping my son busy and engaged, or vice versa. 

Recently I was given an idea that can help, and I decided to take it to the next…more tech-y level!  As the President of The iTaalk Autism Foundation, I’m always looking for new practical uses for the iPad and iPod and this is AWESOME.

NOTE: I am VERY picky about what Apps I recommend. Nothing pains me more than to see families of children with special needs wasting money on Apps that aren’t right for their kiddo, so when I recommend this one, it is because I REALLY think it is special.

With that said, My Choice Board by Good Karma Applications, is FANTASTIC!  At $9.99 it is on the pricier side of the Apps I recommend, but it is invaluable for its functional uses (AND…you may have gotten it half price this week…lucky!!!)

Getting rid of the guilty:

As I said before, that time after school and on weekends is SOOO hard for our family and so many others I know. So here’s the solution using My Choice Board and an iPad:

1)   Create a “Board”.  This entails choosing pictures from the library of images and adding the voice/sound you want associated with that picture.  These will be the available choices for your child.  For my son, it includes: Trains, Computer, iPad, Puzzle, Marble Run, Coloring, Snack, Trampoline, Piano

2)   Using the timer on your “Clock” App (Or the ASD timer which I like), I set the timer for every 30 minutes.  I use this really loud annoying Alarm sound so I will not miss the noise.  Not because I want to scare my kiddo into an activity, but because I have my own little problem with hyper-focusing, and I need to have a really awful sound or I will just ignore the noise!

3)      As soon as you hear the alarm, accompany your child to the set location for the iPad, and together open My Choice Board.  Let your child choose his/her activity, and then set up the activity together. Your child should complete or play with the activity for a set period of time, for my son it is 5 minutes.  For some children two minutes is a stretch, but rejoice…two minutes of an appropriate activity is better than ZERO, and that is what we are striving for… appropriate, engaging activities.

4)   After the activity is complete, reset the alarm and edit the choice board.  My Choice Board allows you to edit the Board and put an X through the item already chosen.

5)   Now…GO ENJOY YOUR Guilt-free 30 MINUTES!  Then repeat.  (Disclaimer: By all means enjoy your 30 minutes, just don’t ignore the kiddo so much they get into trouble ;-)

(As you get your system set up, start incorporating other family members.  Maybe every third turn, a sibling can step in and help with a choice and activity.)

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