Thursday, December 30, 2010

GFCF Mommy's Favorite Apps

I am a late-bloomer when it comes to technology. Although virtually everyone in the Professor's family has an iphone, I resisted due to the monthly data fees involved. But my sweet parents-in-law gave me an iphone for my birthday, in part because they thought some of the educational apps would be good for the Prince.

The Professor and I researched phone plans, and found his university had a special rate through ATT, so it was not as expensive as we thought. Also, the Professor believes the old ways are best and rarely even texts. Apps are not for him. Bargain for me!

So now I have joined the masses of moms who love their iphones. Mine functions for me as a sort of second brain. I have my contacts, grocery list, calendar, well I don't need to tell you. Being an older mom, I feel as if I am on Star Trek, or something!

I know that other websites have evaluated apps for autism, and that many of my readers probably already have iphones or droids, but if you are one of the few who are new to technological advances, like me, I wanted to share.

One of my favorite apps is Is That Gluten Free? produced by MidLifeCrisis (gotta love the name!). This app is available for iphone, droid, and blackberry. It is a little pricely, as apps go, $7.99, but I have found it to be so useful! You can look up a product by categories, by brand, or search. Once you make your selection, the screen tells you if the product is gluten-free, date of validation, and the company statement about the product. There is also a link to the company's website and sometimes a phone number. In the "Brands" index, companies that are gluten-free are marked by a green dot. Those that are questionable have a yellow dot. For example, if cross-contamination or "natural flavors" are an issue, the reason is explained.

In addition, you can search those mysterious ingredients that have 28 letters in their name and find out if they are gluten-free or not. Those that are, marked in green; questionable marked in yellow; not gluten-free, in red. I am still of the opinion that if you can't pronounce an ingredient and don't know what it is, avoid it, but this is a great feature. Also, the product information is updated periodically, which is terrific too. This app does not help us with regard to avoiding casein, but I find that gluten is much more difficult to identify, especially in processed foods, than casein.

MidLifeCrisis also has a sister-app called Is That Gluten Free? Eating Out. I have not invested in this yet, since it looks like the data base is primarily fast-food or chain restaurants, however, this app is incredibly well designed too. You can look up Arby's, for example. Then you will get a menu. You can select an item and it will tell you the ingredients and which are safe. I can see how this might be handy for traveling, though we still tend to bring our own snacks as much as possible.

Since it is free, I have uploaded IEP Checklist, but have not had an IEP meeting since I got the app. The main features are the ability to take notes and make voice recordings during a meeting (which your iphone can do anyway), as well as link to the federal regulations website and IDEA. It seems geared mostly towards teachers, but I can see how it might be useful. IEP meetings are so stressful, that in my case, it might distract me from my role as a team member. On the other hand, it might be good to have specific IDEA guidelines bookmarked in advance for easy reference. But you don't need an app to do that, then again, there is the "second brain" convenience, mentioned above.

When I got my iphone, like most moms, I selected a few apps I thought the Prince would like to play with when waiting in lines, doctor's offices etc. I chose Star Walk and Google Earth, which feed into his Aspie love of astronomy and geography. Like many parents before me, I found my phone frequently disappearing at home and ending up in the Prince's bedroom!

So, after much consideration, we decided that Santa would bring the Prince and itouch for Christmas. I hesitated, since I thought it would increase his isolation, knowing his love for computer games. The games are great, but many of them do have repetitive features that are attractive to our children, though I have come to accept that sometimes that soothing element is necessary--with limits. But when I saw the number of apps on itunes in the "special education" category, I was sold--and many of these apps are free. (You can find a quick link to special education on the upper right corner in the apps section of itunes).

There are several for children with autism. Tap to Talk is similar to an augmentative and alternative communication device. I wish I had some of the picture schedule apps when the Prince was younger, such as the First Then Visual Schedule. Although I think there is merit to having the picture schedules displayed in your home or school, the app version would be nice to used when outside of the house, say, shopping, visiting Grandma, etc. There are many picture schedule apps to choose from. Another I like is My Choice Board. The Social Skills apps are also quite good, like Model Me Going Places, which provides social stories for common events like getting a haircut, riding the bus, etc. I think these apps might have saved me a lot of time cutting out and laminating picture schedules.

If you have an iphone, itouch, or ipad, I encourage you to explore the apps for your child. I can see that this is the wave of the future. The Holly Rod Foundation recently accepted applications for free ipads for children with autism, if the family met the financial requirements. They were so inundated, that after a month, they are no longer accepting applications. Shout out to Autism Speaks, maybe you could partner with The Holly Rod Foundation to expand this program?


Stef Robins said...

Congratulations on your new iPhone. I have to agree with you on having it as our second brain. As a working mom, I'd really need that. Is That Gluten Free sounds like a useful app but I'm afraid it's too expensive for me. By the way, I'd like to recommend my favorite mommy app. It's called Intuition ( It's a task management app that's especially made for moms. It handles my to-dos, tasks, appointments, even my shopping lists. I love its location alert feature which reminds me, for example, to buy milk when I'm near a grocery. Plus it's cute and totally free. You should try it. :)

GFCF Mommy said...

Thanks, Stef. I'll look it up!

Chris said...

There really is an app for everything these days! My favourite app is associated with a supermarket chain here in the UK; you scan barcodes of items in your house or even the outside world and, where possible, it adds them to your basked for your next order!

Super convenient.

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