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  • Writer's pictureJoan Medlen

Sometimes it just takes a touch…

A touch of a heart,

A touch of belief,

A touch of kindness,

A touch of fear,

A touich of joy,

a touch of accomplishment,


an iPod Touch!

I’ve been talking about creating social and pre-teaching stories  with Andy using an iPod Touch for some time. When I heard I could put videos on it, I’ve thought it would be a good tool for some visual teaching or video self modeling. The sound was the challenge….

As with many of my best ideas, it stayed confined to my brain, waiting for the rest of me – and my bank account – to take some action.

Then came the phone call from the dentist office.  Yes, the dentist.

This was a new dentist. Our usual dentist is retiring. I’ve not been a fan of dentists since my childhood when I had a major bike accident that has led to a lot of dental work over the years. So just the idea of going to the dentist -whether it’s me or Andy – is an emotional thing. In the past we have sedated Andy. But this younger dentist, father of a young girl with Down syndrome, wanted to meet him first and consider some desensitzation. My husband, who thinks like a guy, wanted to just get it over with, but consented to seeing what we could do.

I took my sister-in-law’s small digital camera to take photos of Andy at the office. New people, remodeled office, and so on. Andy did well. Walking to the office on his own steam, so we just drug the wheelchair along for fun (and what fun that is!). But when we got to the part where the dentist looks in his mouth? Well, that was sort of where “good” ended.

Andy’s super defensive about his mouth. Our pediatrician has had just fast glimpses of his tonsils for years. Andy can break tongue depressors like they are crackers. The dentist was great, though. He tried being in the background, talking to Andy, and sometimes stepping in. My husband, would get impatient with the speed of things and add some extra oompf of a holding Andy and that would be the end of things. All-in-all, a pretty tramatic/dramatic visit for all.

We agreed to come in the late afternoons for some desensitizing. I scheduled it for two weeks out. And  that was the touch I needed to fork over my money for an iPod Touch.

The night before our second visit, I loaded all our photos into the iPod and you know what? Andy loves making them go across the page. I can see that this is going to work! It took him all of 3 minutes to learn how to make the pictures change with his finger. The screen is very easy to activate.

Andy studied the photos from our first visit very carefully as we made our way to our first desensitization visit. Of course, being the worried Mother I am, I made him a photo wallet and a transition strip, too. I also had all his favorite items in my pocket. If nothing else, I am prepared.

Andy did great. We got as much “dentistry” done as the previous visit – all smiles and fun. The dentist is offering us this for free as long as we come after he sends his staff home. The dental assistant offered to stay – volunteered. Can you imagine? I”m in heaven – a touch of kindness, a touch of belief…a touch of compassion.

I have not yet gotten the video piece to work, but I plan to. Ryan, our older son came up with the greatest way to use this for stressful things like the dentist: hook it up to you car stereo, let him watch it, and have the sound of the social story/video play over the speakers. We’ll see.

Of course, this is not a new concept. Ablelink Technologies has been creating products like this for years. They have amazing tools that I believe Andy would take to quickly. We might need to be the keeper of the tool, but that’s true for most things Andy uses (including the IPod.). The trouble is, I can’t afford them! And to prove to medicaid (since we just have two years left of school, why bother?), we must go through amazing evaluations and hoops. It’s almost as if Andy must be able to use it before we can get one to teach him.

So this is my first step to something close.

I am also eyeing touch screen monitors for Andy for computer access. I’m not as convinced about those, but this iPod Touch? I think we’ll go a long ways with it! And if it works well, perhaps we’ll be able to work with Ablelink Technologies through the formal evaluation process.

All it takes is a little touch!

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