Transition: Shaping Our Views of Technology
The word “transition” has multiple meanings. In the world of special education, typically we think of transition as the process in which children with disabilities change or move from childhood to adulthood. This process takes many years and involves medical, educational, legal and advocacy, employment, social and recreational, financial, and independent living issues. However, through the lens of the coronavirus pandemic, this word has greater implications. We are ALL in a state of transition right now. Though transitioning to what, we are not sure.
For some of us, it feels like limbo, rather than moving forward. While we may feel “stuck” right now – restricted in our travel, possibly unable to attend inperson classes, confined to our homes – one area has remained unchanged, and that is that our children are still growing towards adulthood whether we are stuck or not! They are still growing, maturing, learning and changing before our eyes.
As parents of children with disabilities, we rely on many individuals and services to support our children in learning, keeping them healthy and helping them reach their full potential. During the coronavirus epidemic, our systems have been disrupted. It has been challenging to “cope”, to “pivot”, to accept “fluid” as a daily reality. One thing remains unchanged, however, and maybe even has become clearer in the midst of crisis – and that is our interdependence. We need each other to survive.
We have seen the advantages and limitations of technology in our lives. Technology has given us options for connecting in ways we may not have tried before. It has both frustrated us and delighted us – think of that Zoom Happy Hour, the grocery delivery to your door, or Disney +, anyone? But for children with disabilities who may not be able to receive critical in-person services that they need to thrive, technology is no substitute.
What role can technology play in this time of limbo, of feeling stuck, of transition to a new reality? For our children growing towards adulthood, what kind of tools can be helpful? In 2019, BridgingApps completed a 3-year project called TexasYouth2Adult. com, with an aim to help families who have children with chronic illness or disability, navigate the transition to adulthood. Though the focus is supporting Texas families, anyone can access the tools and resources that have been gathered from across the country. We have put together some resources from TexasYouth2Adult that include both leveraging mobile technology and additional tools that assist with transition.
Secondly, we provided the Student Self-Evaluation Matrix, which is a tool to help students in enhancing self-awareness and problem solving with assistive technology for better transition outcomes. This tool, developed by QIAT (Quality Indicators for Assistive Technology), is useful to both students in higher education settings and for K-12 programs. Try out the tool here: http://qiat-ps.org/student-indicator-resources/
Thirdly, we find that many teens with disabilities don’t know how to begin to create a resume, so we offer a resource for approaching putting together a resume for the first time, the Resume Star app. In addition, here are some other options and templates, including one of our favorites, “My First Resume”, which helps even elementary aged students create their very first resume: https://www.texasyouth2adult.com/articles/view/Creating-a-Simple-Resume
Check out these helpful apps to enhance your loved one’s personal support network, help them create their first resume, learn organizational skills, and practice every day tasks and routines to improve their overall independence (and confidence!) level:
By: Google LLC
Google Drive is a useful way to store and share information with the people in your loved one’s personal support network. It can be used to create and save many different types of files including photos, videos, and documents (keep in mind not to include sensitive information such as social security numbers when using a sharing site unless you are confident in its security settings). One of its companion apps, Google Sheets can also be helpful in creating sign-up sheets for things such as support roles and/or duties.
Resume Star: Pro CV Maker
By: Qrayon, LLC
Resume Star is an app parents and teachers can use to assist students in going through the step-by-step process of developing a resume. Users simply fill in their information and Resume Star produces a clean, correctly formatted PDF resume which can then be emailed or printed as needed, or opened in a variety of apps such as iBooks, Google Drive, Dropbox, etc.
Price: FREE | Offers In-App Purchases
Remember The Milk
By: Remember The Milk
Remember The Milk is a task management app that can be helpful as your teen/ young adult is learning time management and organizational skills. The interface makes it easy to set up and manage time and tasks in a fun way. One of the best features is the ability to have your task list handy at all times on your mobile device. It also allows the user to set reminders and have them sent via email or text message.
Price: FREE | Offers In-App Purchases
By: AbleLink Technologies, Inc.
Everyday Skills provides self-directed learning sessions for skills necessary for living independently and accessing the community. It creates an accessible learning tool on the iPad that is specifically designed for use by individuals with autism, learning or other developmental disabilities at their own pace. This app could be useful for helping your teen/ young adult practice and improve upon those many skills they need to live as independently as possible.
If you are interested in searching for more apps on productivity, recreation, stress relief, and so much more, please go to BridgingApps.org. BridgingApps, a program of Easter Seals Greater Houston, is a community of parents, therapists, doctors and teachers who share information about using mobile devices with people who have special needs.
Amy Fuchs is the Program Coordinator at BridgingApps and a former special education teacher.
Amy Barry is the Content Manager and Editor at BridgingApps and mother of five children.
Cristen Reat is co-founder of BridgingApps and a mother who found success when using a mobile device with her children who have special needs. We share a passion for using mobile technology to enhance the lives of people of all ages with disabilities.
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This post originally appeared on our September/October 2020 Magazine