Assistive Technology for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)


Boy leaning on a stack of booksWhat is ADHD?

How many types are there?

What are challenges people with ADHD may have?

What can families and teachers do to help a child with ADHD?


In ADHD, children have a hard time making and keeping friends. They also may not do well in school. Some children with ADHD have low self-esteem. ADHD affects millions of kids around the world. Adults have it too. Treatment can help people with ADHD feel better. But, it does not cure ADHD. Treatment is either medicine, behavioral interventions, or both. It happens more in boys than in girls.

There are three main types of ADHD (according to the Mayo Clinic).

  1. Hyperactive (Over-active). This happens more in boys.
  • Talking too much.
  • Difficulty waiting for their turn.
  • Difficulty staying seated in the classroom.
  1. This happens more in girls.
  • Short attention span.
  • Difficulty staying on task.
  • Making careless mistakes.
  • Difficulty staying focused.
  • Appearing not to listen, even when spoken to directly.
  • Difficulty with organizing tasks.
  • Easily distracted.
  1. (both overactive and inattentive). This is the most common type in the United States.

Other challenges in children with ADHD

  1. Learning disabilities.
  2. Understanding difficulty.
  3. More car accidents and injuries.
  4. More poisoning and choking.

 What can teachers do to help CHILDREN with ADHD?

Teachers can help children with ADHD to stay focused by putting them in a quiet space. By doing this, there are fewer noises and other distractions.  Also, white noise helps kids concentrate and pay better attention while learning.

Other helpful ways to help kids focus is to use a timer. There are different kinds, such as kitchen timers and dual timers. They help kids with ADHD manage time wisely. They help improve concentration. Some people prefer kitchen timers or timer apps. Many therapists think a timer app works for only a short time before a kid with ADHD tunes it out. (See Timer Visual Productivity / Android version.)

Routines and rules in the classroom can make a big difference

Audiobooks, talking books and text to speech (TTS) will enable kids with ADHD to listen carefully to text. TTS helps kids with ADHD understand what they are reading. It also helps them recognize words.

Children and adults with ADHD can use a smart-pen, such as LIVESCRIBE, to take notes in class and record the classroom. After school, people with ADHD can read notes they took and listen to a recording at the same time. (See the YouTube video, “5 Students Share smartpen Lecture Techniques”.)

Other useful resources for people with ADHD:

Explore Simple Math, Basic Math, and more!

Three Components of Successful Programs for Children With ADHD.


How to Call a Deaf Person on the Phone


person using video relay servicesI am a doctor, and I am deaf. A deaf person is someone who cannot hear most things. For example, I cannot hear your voice on my cell phone, but we can still talk on the phone!

If you need to talk to a deaf or hard of hearing person on the phone, it is important to ask him or her what is the best way. We may have a special phone number for you to call.

Some people use a special phone like a TTY/TDD or a Captel phone. You can call on any regular phone, and a person in the middle will type what you say on their special phone, so the deaf person can read it.

If the deaf person knows sign language, it is popular to use a video relay service. During a video relay call, you will talk to a sign language interpreter on your phone. The interpreter shows up on a video camera to the deaf person, and will sign what you said. I can use this app on my cell phone!

Through this phone technology, deaf people can call the doctor and talk to family. They can also call 9-1-1 in an emergency. If you are deaf or hard of hearing, you can use these services for free.

The Rochester Institute for Technology has a How To Guide about Video Relay Service (PDF)

Fire Alarms for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing


I am a doctor, and I am deaf. A deaf person is someone who cannot hear most things. For fire alarmexample, I cannot hear a fire or smoke alarm. Fire safety is important. I use a special fire alarm. There are different kinds.

  1. Strobe light
    • This alarm makes a loud noise and flashes a very bright light quickly. It replaces your standard fire alarm
  2. Shaking alarm
    • This alarm makes a loud noise. It also has a piece you can put under your bed or inside another piece of furniture. If the alarm goes off, it will shake the furniture. It connects to your standard fire alarm.
  3. Low frequency fire alarm
    • This alarm sends out a sound that is deep. It helps people who cannot hear high pitched sounds, but can hear other sounds. It connects to your standard fire alarm.

Most companies can help you find someone to set up the equipment so it is working right. The equipment may even be free. It is important to test your fire alarm once a month and change the batteries regularly.

For more information on fire safety and where to buy fire alarms:


What is Transition?


 We hear school talk a lot about Transitionpath in the woods

Transition is getting yourself ready to do a lot of things after you finish High school.  A lot of people finish high school when they are 22 years old.

A good Transition is:

When school, your parents, and yourself work together to help you get ready.

You can have a good job that pays you money.

You can take a bus by yourself, be safe on the street. You can have your own place to stay. You can live with a friend. You can travel. You can do a lot of things you likegoing to the movies and more. You can go to college to learn more stuff if you want to.

When a student is 14 years old, the school and the teachers work with the student to help him ready to do all these beautiful things after high school. The teachers can go out with you to teach you how to cross the street and be safe. We call it travel training. The teacher can go to your job with you to show you how to do a good job. We call it job training. Sometimes you have to try different jobs to see what you like more.

You can work with your teachers and your parents to learn about money and save money. Tell us what you like and want, and what you want to do when you finish high school. You can learn how to ask for what you want. You can ask for what you need because you are an advocate. You are a good advocate because you can speak for yourself. Sometimes, everybody needs help. You can learn how to help others, how to volunteer, like helping your school, helping your church.

You learn how to take care of yourself. Stay clean. Dress well for the weather. Learn about girl friend and boy friend. How to protect your body. Learn if someone hurts your body, learn to tell your teacher and your parents. You can learn more about eating well and exercise. Tell your parents and your teachers what you like to do when you finish High school. Everyone can help you get ready for Transition.

It is a very nice time because you are now a beautiful young man or a beautiful young woman who worked hard to learn how be independent.

This is all part of Transition.

Find transition resources:

Access Services


My name is Shey Jaboin and I’m the parent of a child with door

If you are a parent and don’t know how to speak English well, it’s hard asking for help.  When you are a Parent and have a child with disabilities, it can be difficult to find services for your child.

We want you to know that there are a lot of places that want to help:

  • You can call your doctor to ask for help.
  • You can call the doctor of your child.
  • He can give you telephone numbers to call for services.

In Massachusetts,

  • They have different family support services.

You can call them. They can come to your house to see how to help you.  They will ask you questions. They will give you papers to sign before they start helping you.  Sometimes, these people have to send papers to your doctors before they help you. Don’t be scared.

  • These people are there to help.

Sometimes, a nurse from the agency will come to your house to check your child before they give you services.

  • Please remember that you are not alone.

They are parents and other people with disability who needed help too.  They are helping others now.

  • They are disability advocates.

They are making life better for people with disability. When you think you are ready, you will be helping other people with disability too. Connect with other parents who have children with disabilities.

  • Remember to connect with other disability advocates. They are great. They help people like you and me.

For information on Parent Resources

The Discipline Gap: How Children with Disabilities Are at a Loss in the Classroom


Discipline is part of growing up. But many kids with disabilities are disciplined in the wrong Children's colorful alphabet blocksway. This can hurt a child in the long run.

Kids that go against teachers or struggle with classmates are called naughty. This is worse for kids of color with disabilities. One in 4 black boys and 1 in 5 black girls are sent home from school. This is much more often than white kids.

When schools are lax with Individual Education Plans (IEP), disciplining kids with disabilities turns out to be harder.

Next steps:

  • Know your rights! Parents should know how kids’ IEP’s will be used.
  • Teachers must be taught. When teachers are not aware of kids’ needs, everyone is at a loss.
  • Schools should be graded on how well they follow IEPs

All kids should get a fair chance. Kids with disabilities should get to thrive. Raising them with respect is key.


Lewis, K. R. (2015, July 24). Why do schools over-discipline children with disabilities? The Atlantic. Retrieved from The Atlantic

My Child with a Disability Keeps Getting Suspended or Recommended for Expulsion. (2014, November). Retrieved from Disability Rights California Nov 2014, Pub. #5563-01

What you need to know about IDEA 2004: Suspending children from school. (2012, March 22). Retrieved October 28, 2016, from Wrights Law, October 28, 2016, from Wrights Law

Black and Disabled: A Death Sentence


Sign disable black lives matter too

Violence against people of color has been in the news a lot. Police are using too much force against them. This is even worse for people of color with disabilities.

This fall, police killed Keith Lamont Scott. He had a brain injury. Charles Kinsey helped people with disabilities. He was taking care of a patient with autism. He was also shot. More than half of people hurt by police have a disability. This should cause us to worry.

We do not know enough about disabilities. People in charge do not either. This puts people at great risk to be hurt by people in charge.

People in charge should:

  • Know how to spot disabilities
  •  Not jump to conclusions
  • Know that many disabilities cannot be seen
  • See their own racial biases

Every human has the right to feel safe. They should feel safe within their own skin. No matter what it looks like. No matter who is inside.


Chokshi, N. (2016, October 17). Keith Lamont Scott was killed by two gunshot wounds, family autopsy finds. Retrieved October 17, 2016 from The New York Times

Harrell, E. (2014, February 25). Crime Against Persons With Disabilities, 2009–2012 – Statistical Tables. Retrieved October 28, 2016, from, Bureau of Justice Statistics

Neyfakh, L. (2016, July 21). Charles Kinsey did everything he possibly could not to be shot by police. Retrieved October 28, 2016, from Slate

Looking at the whole person?




black and white masks

Have you ever stopped to think how many roles you played today? I bet you would be surprised at how many. For me, today I was a human service worker, shopper, friend, student, cook, and pet owner to name a few. The roles we play in life vary in how we and others value them. Sometimes I am Assistant Vice President, which I deem a valuable role. Others may not feel the same way. They may prefer to pick up and take off whenever they please. At times, I play the role of Democrat. Those who do not value politics or my views may not see this as an important role.

A Human Service View

I spend a lot of time at work reading or hearing about people with different abilities. Everyone has his or her own goals and plans for the future. They also have their own stories. I may never meet them in person, but I learn about them through their stories. After taking a class *, it occurred to me that their stories are only a piece of what makes them “them”. What I realized is the way a person is described places him/her into roles. These roles are not always valued in our society.
When I started working in human services, there was a focus on Person Centered Planning (PCP). The idea of PCP is care centered around the person. At the time, it seemed to make sense. Now I fear we may have missed the point. Much of the focus for people I work with is learning new skills. We work on life skills to help the person fit better in their world. While working on life skills we cannot forget the importance of social skills. There is value and balance when both of these skills improve.

How can we change?

So how do we change our ways? How do we help someone gain valued social roles? It starts with understanding what society values. Today’s society places a high value on money, health, youth, and freedom. These are words I do not typically see in the stories I read about people. In my job, I sometimes find the words used to describe people set limits on the person. We focus on what people cannot do instead of what they can do.
A shift to focusing on abilities and socially valued roles is essential to overall quality of life for anyone. Every person is valuable, but not all roles are valued. Let’s celebrate people for who they are instead of describing people in terms of what they are not. For more information on Social Role Valorization, community inclusion, and similar topics, check out the websites listed below.

* Dr. Wolf Wolfensberger’s theory of Social Role Valorization

Life after School


I can remember when I was about to finish high school. It was an exciting and scary time. road sign reads change aheadMany people asked, “What will you do next?” Ask this question to someone with a range of challenges, and I bet you get the same answers. Answers like going to college, getting a job, or getting into a trade, to name a few. The planning that goes into making these answers happen can be much different though. Many factors play into the success of the person. Factors such as support services needed, access, funding, advocacy, etc.

What is Transition Planning?

The above planning process is known as “Transition”.  It is planning and development of a person’s future. During the time of transition, we predict what kind of support the person will need. We think about where the person will live. We look into what kind of job the person could have. What services are out there to address the person’s needs? What supports does the person qualify for, and is there funding? I can tell you in many cases the supports decrease as the person moves to adult services. This makes it even more difficult to plan for a quality life. In my job, I hear from families often that feel they were not prepared. They did not know enough about their options to be able to help make the best transition decisions for their loved one. I get a lot of “why wasn’t I told about this support option?” “That’s not how that service was explained to me.” “I wish I knew about this sooner.”

What are the gaps?

At age 22 or at time of graduation, a school is no longer responsible for a student. The student is now an “adult”. During the time leading up to “adulthood,” the school system plays a big role in getting the student ready for life after school. How do you know what to prepare the student for without knowing what life will look like after school? Will he/she go to college? Live in a group home or in the community? Will he/she go right to work? What are the support options in adult services? Will people qualify for the type of supports needed to achieve their goals? The transition process does address these questions. Still, “usual” support service models are not a one size fits all. Sadly, trying to be creative in your planning is not always possible for many reasons.

One other major gap is the relationship between the school system and the adult service system. Those working with families to explore adult service options may not be well-enough informed. Let us also not forget all the services that may go away for the student in “adulthood”. Where is the link between children and adult services? When finally meeting transition coordinators, they are also working with too many other families. Through no fault of their own, they have extremely high caseloads. Therefore, the amount of time spent on planning your child’s adult life is hardly enough. It is as if you are given a menu of services and you’re told to pick one. Well, what if none of these menu items meet my child’s vision? Without a doubt, a stronger team approach is crucial.

Transition Tips

What are some tips to plan for transition? In my opinion, it’s key to start early. Reach out to Family Support Centers. Look into provider agencies. Ask questions about the services they offer. Visit them in person. Learn about the “Self Directed Service” option. Know what “Self Determination” means. Do not take “No” for an answer. For more information, check out the resources listed below.


When A Disease Has No Name


I am a patient advocate who works with people with medical problems and disabilities. When name tag with Hello my name is Undiagnoseda doctor diagnoses a person with a disease, it can be sad and scary. But, once a problem has a name, people can learn more about it. They can talk or write to others with the same problem. They can join groups or clubs for their disability. They can visit doctors and hospitals with special knowledge of their problems.

Sadly, some people never get a name for their disease or disability.

These people visit many doctors and hospitals. No one knows what is wrong. There are no clubs or groups for their illness. Doctors do not know how to help them. These people may feel very alone. They may be confused as to why doctors can’t tell them what is wrong. They may wonder if they don’t have a real disease or a disability at all.

Not finding a diagnosis happens a lot.

Most people do not know that some diseases have no name yet. Science and medical care are getting better every year. Still, there are many things scientists and doctors do not know. Scientists and doctors do not know every disease a person can have. Why is it some diseases or disabilities have no name?

How a Disease Gets a Name:

In the past, doctors named diseases for the problems they caused in the human body. If five babies were born with problems moving their legs, the doctor would say all five had the same leg disease. The name of the disease came from its symptoms.

Looking at Human Genes:

Today, some doctors still use old disease names from symptoms. But more doctors today want to know the true cause of a disease. To find a disease’s true cause, doctors look at our genes. Genes are inside our bodies. They tell the parts of our body how to work. We are born with our genes. We keep the same genes our whole lives. Scientists know that a problem in our genes will often cause a disease.

Finding a gene problem is the best way to name a disease.

Today, if five babies are born with leg problems, the doctor will test a little of their blood to see their genes. Even though all five babies have leg problems, they may not have the same gene problems. The babies will get different names for their diseases, if they have different gene problems.

When we can’t find a gene problem:

Sometimes, doctors cannot find the gene problem causing a person’s disease. This happens because humans still have a lot to learn about genes. We don’t know how to find every gene problem in the body. We don’t know why some gene problems cause diseases, and some gene problems do not.

When we can’t find a sick person’s gene problem, their disease has no name. A person with a disease that has no name is called undiagnosed. Today, many people with diseases and disabilities are undiagnosed. These people and their doctors are waiting for new tests to find their gene problems. They are waiting for scientists to learn more about their diseases.

Living With No Diagnosis

For a person with a disease that has no name, life can be hard. Insurance companies may not want to pay for the person’s care. Doctors in special clinics may turn the person away, until their disease has a name. Groups for people with disabilities and diseases may not let the person join. Undiagnosed people may end up feeling alone as they live with their disease.

Having no diagnosis can feel lonely or scary.

But, even without a name for a disability, people can find help. A special group of doctors and scientists work for the US government to study diseases that have no name. They work at the National Institute of Health (NIH). The NIH has a page with tips for people who are undiagnosed.

These can be found at:

 Another pace for undiagnosed people is the organization SWAN. SWAN stands for Syndromes Without A Name. SWAN is a group for people who have no name for their disease or disability. They keep a website at:

At the SWAN site people can share stories. People can find others who also have no name for their disease. They can find a place to be together and share their daily lives.

Working with each other, people with no name for their disease can find hope. They can work through their struggles, and support new medical research.

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