A Different Kind Of Singing

Children like Lillian are why the Turning Views Foundation and the Gift a Voice Project were created. The Foundation’s intent is to make a DIFFERENCE for those that are DIFFERENT. First, by providing to nonverbal and/or speech impaired children an iPhone or iPod touch so they can FINALLY have a voice and be able to communicate in a more fluid and modern way. – Camilla Downs

Want to help us? Make a cash donation, donate your last generation iPhone, iPod touch or iPad, or host a Gift a Voice Cell Phone Recycling Drive. Visit our Get Involved page to learn more ideas. We are a 501(3) non-profit and will provide you with a donation receipt.

iPhone Speaker Accessory Tip – Jawbone

Team TLC (for those that don’t know … that’s Thomas, Lillian and me – Camilla) had lunch the other day with Kathy and Caitlin Fuetsch. I met these two lovely ladies last March 2011 during our Vino for Voices fundraiser. Caitlin, who is in her 20’s, suffered a stroke a couple of years ago and uses an iPhone with Proloquo2Go to speak with. During our lunch visit at the Fuetsch Casa, Caitlin typed in something to say to me and pressed speak. I was blown away because I could hear it clearly and ALL throughout the house! Kathy had bought Jawbone JAMBOX (amazon affiliate link) for use in the house and it is AMAZING!!! She can even hear it when she’s upstairs and Caitlin is downstairs. I told Lillian we need one of these and she said “Yes. I can use it to ask you where you are and you’ll hear me!!” This child is obsessed with knowing where I am at all times! Check it out!

Top 10 Christmas Wish List 2011

Please take a peek as the first “Top 3″ items won’t take a bite out of your money budget – Just a small bite out of your time budget!

  1. Share the Different iz Good website , Facebook page – facebook.com/DifferentizGood and our Gift a Voice Project with your online community.
  2. Donate any used cell phone, smart phone, iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad for the Foundation’s Gift a Voice Project.
  3. Host a Gift a Voice Cell Phone Drive.
  4. Apple Gift Cards
  5. iTunes Gift Cards
  6. Amazon Gift Cards
  7. New iPod Touch or iPad
  8. Buy stuff from the Different iz Good store
  9. Cash Donations – Any Amount (Cash, Credit Card or PayPal)
  10. Sponsor a person with communication disabilities:

Approximately $600 will buy one NEW iPod Touch, Proloquo2Go (or similar) AAC Application, iMainGo speaker/case or similar and a cover (exact cost will depend on needs of recipient).

Approximately $1,200 will buy one NEW iPad, Proloquo2Go (or similar) AAC Application,  speaker and a case/cover (exact cost will depend on needs of recipient).

If you’d like more information about our Wish List items please comment below, comment on our Facebook Page or send an email to list @ differentizgood . org.

A Poem for Special Teachers!

(Guest post by Monica McDivitt – Monica blogs at Like a Butterfly)

Sam and One of Her Awesome Special Ed Teachers

Teacher Appreciation Week is around the corner. Though I believe ALL teachers are invaluable, I am giving extra props to special education teachers. Surprise, surprise! 🙂

They aren’t just teachers. They are physical therapists, speech therapists, occupational therapists, researchers, nurses, and our children’s cheerleaders! Their patience, creativity, organization, ability to accept and understand the differences in each of our children and their ability to motivate, identify, appreciate and celebrate small victories are what make them different from the rest! Few things are more rewarding than knowing you have made an impact on the lives of children who are struggling to reach their full potential.

Two years ago I wrote this poem for Sam’s LIFE Skills teacher and paraprofessionals, printed it, framed it and gave it to them as a gift. It was written from Samantha’s perspective. I hope you like it:

You greet me every morning with a great big smile
Help me out of the car
Even if it takes a while

I am a little girl who cannot hear or speak
But still you understand me,
Week after week.

I have more challenges than most other people, you know
But you never give up on me
Even if my progress is slow

You help me with my daily life skills
Help me to succeed
Teach me how to sing and play
Adapt it to my special needs

I am strong and happy
I like to giggle and tease
Sometimes I may even drop down on my knees

You work very hard everyday,
Help me learn and grow
You are patient, kind and loving

This I wanted you to know
It takes a special person to be a teacher like you
And my Mommy and Daddy are grateful
For everything you do!

Happy Teacher’s Appreciation Week!

{If you loved this as much as I (Camilla) did and want to share with your Facebook Friends, just go here to do that!! Thanks y’all!}

About Guest Blogger

This post was written by a guest contributor.  Please see their details on our Contributors page.  If you’d like to guest post for Different iz Good check out our Write for DIG page for details about how YOU can share your stories and tips with our community.

It’s the Little Things

(Guest post by Geri Kochis – Geri blogs at EmilyAnn)

As a warning – This post is my own opinion and I apologize upfront if I offend anyone.

In the Geri dictionary, Cheerleader would have had following description: cliquish, flexible (body), high energy, lot’s of makeup, crazy parents, revealing clothing, and popular (kids/teen/adults).

Emily joined a special needs Cheerleading squad in October/November of 2010 (Idaho Cheer Spirit). This was a competition squad, so they did more than just practice. I wasn’t sure how it would turn out and really concerned she wouldn’t perform well enough. The kids not on the special needs squad also worried me. Most of children (even adults) don’t know how to react to Emily. It is not uncommon for her to walk up to strangers and say she likes their shirt or shoes, or just say random things. To make it worse, Emily has bi-lateral hearing loss along with 18p- so her speech can be hard to understand at times. The response to Emily is usually, umm.. ok and then a confused look directed at me. I didn’t think Emily would fit in with her traits combined with my thoughts on Cheerleading. Here were are 5 months out and a National Championship later and I can admit I was wrong about everything.

Not only did Emily’s squad welcome her with open arms, but so did the entire gym (Idaho Cheer). No one cared that she would say random things, or sometimes get distracted by the other squads tumbling. The promoters/producers of the competitions made the squad feel special and they always received at least medals. The support from all the parents (different gyms, states) at the competitions was great. I can’t think of once where the entire crowd wasn’t cheering for our girls. The spirit squad had great coaches that always encouraged the girls to do their best without discouraging.

Idaho Spirit has had junior coaches. These coaches were girls from another squad with an age range of 11-15 (maybe a little order/younger). I have never in my life encountered girls that age who were so accepting of differences and truly cared about the girls. The parents of these girls should be proud.

This past weekend Idaho Cheer Spirit earned the title of National Champions (along with 4 other special needs teams) in Anaheim California. Cheerleading has made such a difference in Emily, and me as well. The Geri dictionary has definitely changed.

{Wanna share this awesome story with your Facebook Friends? Go here! Thanks!}

Gift a Voice FUNdraiser – Vino for Voices

Whose ready to have some FUN while at the same time raising money for the Turning Views Foundation, Different iz Good and Gift a Voice?

Clark is our next Gift a Voice Recipient

We’ve got a great time scheduled for Wednesday, March 30th, from 6-8 pm at Kona Gold Coffee and Wine Bar y’all! An informal night of fun, wine, chocolate (Dorinda’s Chocolates to be exact!! YUM) and appetizers.

March 30, 2011, 6:00 – 8:00 p.m.
Kona Gold Coffee & Wine Bar
3304 South McCarran Blvd Reno

Over TWENTY FIVE donations for our over the top awesome raffle!  Ranging from Jewelry to Gift Certificates to Wine to Oil Changes to Massages to Bread Baskets to Chocolate to Limousine services to Dental Exams to Books to Chiropractic Exams and all things in between!!

100% of the event fee goes to our Gift a Voice project.  Kona Gold is donating the space, the wine and the appetizers and Dorinda’s Chocolates is donating the chocolate.  Kona Gold is also donating all their tips for the night to our Foundation!!

Bring your inactive and used iPhones, smart phones and cell phones for donation to our Cell Phone Recycling for a Voice Drive.  Receive (1) One FREE raffle ticket for each phone donated.

Join us and support those in our lives with special needs and those with communication disabilities!

Help us spread the word about our Vino for Voices event by sharing with your Facebook Community and pressing that little ole “Like” button below!! We appreciate it times a million y’all!!

(After check out please print your PayPal receipt as that is your ticket to “taste”!!)


Sponsored and hosted by:

Delicious Mouth Watering Chocolate Provided by:

Bring Your Smile ‘Cause Photography Provided by:

Filming Provided By:

My Kid Rides the Short Bus

(Guest post by Loni Scovill Smith –  Loni blogs at His Apraxia Journey)

Why Different iz Good Exists!

When I was growing up in the 80’s and 90’s, there was a stigma attached to kids that rode the “short bus”.  I believe most of it stemmed from ignorance and fear.  Back in those days, when you saw the short bus, you imagined it was filled with kids afflicted with the worst of the worst disabilities.

My son rides the short bus. And he isn’t afflicted with the worst of the worst. In every way physically, he seems normal. He looks and acts like any other five year old in preschool. He’s social, fun, smart, stubborn, but very different in one specific way – his speech is unintelligible.

I am a mother in the age of the internet, a time when information is at everyone’s fingertips. I live in a decade where we can stay connected with others virtually; I have easy, accessible ways to pass on information to others about my son’s condition. Whether it’s through Facebook posts, my blog – His Apraxia Journey, or even this Different Iz Good blog, people can learn about Ian’s speech apraxia and having that knowledge eliminates the fear or ignorance that they might have been experiencing. That’s pretty darn cool.

Because of social networking and the plethora of information readily available at our computers, the doors of acceptance have been opened wider than ever before to our children with disabilities. Knowledge is beautiful.

As I prepare my son for the probability of attending a special education kindergarten in the fall (complete with another year of riding the short bus), I revel in the fact that he is loved and accepted by all of those around us. There is not a horrible stigma or fear and ridicule attached to him, rather, there is joy with each new word he speaks clearly, there is celebration for the success he finds in the special help he receives. There is compassion.

My kid rides the short bus and everyone celebrates his differences. Being different is no longer scary, it’s acceptable. It’s understandable. It’s beautiful.

Wanna share this one with your Facebook Friends?  Go Right Here – Thank You!!

Giving Sam a Voice

(Guest post by Monica McDivitt – Monica blogs at Like a Butterfly)

The Internet, Facebook and computers have been quite a gift to me. Some might criticize and complain that people share too much information or spend too much time “playing” on the Internet but the ability to form new friendships, network with other groups and families of children with and without disabilities, find resources and research from the comfort of my own home have all become invaluable to me. After all, this is how I met Camilla Downs, founder of The Turning Views Foundation and the Different Iz Good™ (DIG) movement and how I was given the privilege to be a contributor for her incredible mission.

Over the past few months, I have been exploring alternative ways to help my 10 year-old daughter, Samantha, to communicate. Sam was born with a chromosome 18q- deletion. As a result she has intellectual and developmental disabilities. Sam is also Deaf, nonverbal and her delayed fine motor skills do not allow her to hold a crayon without assistance.

Sam understands some American Sign Language but has not learned to sign consistently. If she does sign, her sign language is very subtle and if you blink, you will probably miss it. My husband, John, and I have tried several tools and devices over the years to help Sam communicate and participate in her daily and extracurricular activities – the Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS), object schedules and my own pictures with ASL signs are just a few.

In my first DIG contribution I wrote, “Do I wish Sam could speak? Would I love to hear her beautiful voice? You bet! For now, I get giggles, babbles, cries and gestures and if this is all I ever receive as far as communication, I can be happy.” I am true to Sam and still believe everything I wrote but I also know that Sam is an extremely bright child and she really makes me think…a lot! One day, recently, I was playing with Sam, speaking directly into her ear. In a sing-songy voice I kept repeating, “I love you.” Sam sat and listened attentively. She was incredibly engaged and when I least expected it and with a big smile on her face, I heard her vocalize “Ah la la.” I heard Sam say, “I love you” and I suddenly began to want more!

Success stories of the iPad being used with children who have disabilities have been popping up all over the local and world news: A recent New York Times article described the story of 7-year-old Owen Cain who has had a debilitating motor-neuron disease since infancy: “He does not have the strength to use a computer mouse but when a nurse propped her boyfriend’s iPad within reach in June, he did something his mother had never seen before. [Owen] aimed his left pointer finger at an icon on the screen, touched it — just barely — and opened the application Gravitarium, which plays music as users create landscapes of stars on the screen. Over the years, Owen’s parents had tried several computerized communications contraptions to give him an escape from his disability, but the iPad was the first that worked on the first try.”

When I read about and saw this story, I cried, thought about Sam and began to believe that she could be just as successful as Owen. Clearly, Sam’s disabilities are much different than Owen’s but, still, I immediately researched for more stories and articles and then purchased and downloaded the popular communication applications recommended by Camilla onto John’s iPad so we could present this information to Sam’s IEP (Individualized Education Plan) team. I felt so happy.

At our meeting John and I brought the iPad to demonstrate its greatness and how we wanted to help Sam to communicate. The team was impressed, but the reasons against the use of the iPad for Sam at school were: The district won’t allow it. Assistive Technology does not provide support for iPads. What if it breaks? What if it gets stolen? Is it going to be used as a toy or a tool? Would it be loud enough for Sam to hear? Does Sam have the key skills to use the device? I thought, “Seriously? Nooks and Kindles are allowed in our general education classes. What about our children in special education?” Frustrated, I stood up and voiced my opinion of unfairness and told them how the “rule makers” do not truly know or understand the needs of our children with disabilities. They do not live with our children everyday and they do not teach our children during a 7-hour school day. When all was said and done, I remained calm and level-headed but felt extremely disappointed!

Sam is using the Dynavox M3 for now. In order for AT to recommend and provide support for any device like the iPad, John and I were informed that the district needs data to support the decision. If they would give Sam a chance they would see Sam’s face light up when she works with the iPad and they would already have their data and I wouldn’t be writing this story. Sam is enthusiastic, curious and engaged with the iPad. She loves computers. She does wonderfully with cause and effect activities, she can use her fingers to draw on the iPad and I know with time, patience and practice she can learn so much more.

I am still working on this issue with the district. Anyone who knows me also knows that I do not give up and I am quite persistent. After a very recent inquiry, I learned today that the iPad will “probably” become more prevalent with students in our district, however, it will be based on an assessment to determine the need and appropriateness of the technology. I don’t think this is a “no” to the iPad for Sam but it’s not a “yes” either so I have much more work to do.

I don’t expect a “miracle” when Sam uses the iPad. I just believe in her and I know she can learn to use it. WHAT IF she could recognize that she is “Sam” or that I am “Mommy” or is able to recognize “Daddy” on an iPad? Camilla made me think about this after she read my first guest contribution and sent me a private, heartfelt message. How cool would that be? Aren’t we all deserving of such a gift?

I know I probably wear out the school administrators and they might want to run in another direction when they see me coming because I am always creating new ideas or asking for something. If I do wear them out it is only because I love and care about Sam – HEAPS!

Deep in my heart I am an optimist so I know this WILL happen for Sam. One day, very soon, she WILL have her own voice with an iPad and I will let you all know when this happens.

If you haven’t seen the video “Becoming Han Solo” or read Owen’s story it is definitely worth your time to click on this link: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/31/nyregion/31owen.html
WARNING: Grab a tissue. 🙂

XO Monica

(If you would like to share this with your Facebook Friends you can do that here! Thanks everyone!!)

Meet Luke T.

(Guest post by Mary Clare Tarpley –  Mary blogs at Mommy Square)

Mary and Luke

When you see my son, Luke, you will first notice his beautiful blue green eyes that sparkle and his amazing dimples. He is simply adorable.  A real cutie patootie!   He looks like other children that are 2.  You can’t tell by looking at Luke, but he struggles to communicate.

Upon closer observation of Luke, you will note that he is often silent and makes very few sounds, some utterances and has about fifteen approximations.  Luke has Childhood Apraxia of Speech.

If Luke could tell you about himself, it would look something like this…

Hi!  My name is Luke.

I live with my mommy, my daddy and my sister Maggie.

I call her “Gee-Gee”.

She is my best friend.

I like trains, balls and puppy dogs.

I love lollipops, popsicles, doughnuts and candy.

I call them “pops” and “yum-yums”.

I like to go to the mall and to Publix.

I love to play outside, go to the park and jump on the trampoline.

I really like to help out around the house.

I don’t like tags on anything.

I am very good at telling you what I want or need without saying a word.

When I can’t get you to understand me, I sometimes get frustrated.

I have lots of visitors and visits during the week for therapy.

Therapy is another word for work.

I get excited about going to “school” and gymnastics.

My favorite family trips have been to Disney.

I try to show my family that I love them.

I cannot wait to be able to tell my mommy, my daddy and my sister…

I love you!

I have been trying to assist the Different Iz Good Foundation with their Gift A Voice project. (http://differentizgood.org/gift-a-voice/) This project helps give children who have speech impairments a means in which to communicate.

It is very dear to my heart because my Luke has Childhood Apraxia of Speech. CAS is a neurological condition that impairs speech.   Although he may know the word or words he wants to say, the motor planning doesn’t work correctly.  We are working to retrain his brain to form these connections for movement with LOTS of therapy and have been given a good prognosis for the future.(http://www.unlockinglukesvoice.com) If you can help in any way with this project, please do.

I try to think of CAS much like a padlock that is keeping Luke’s words contained in a vault (the brain) and that we are the detectives who are trying to figure out the code that will break open the lock on his voice~by helping DIG with the GAV project~you are providing part of the code~almost like being a key. 😉

(Please share this post with your Facebook Friends if you’d like to let them know what we are up to here at DIG! Thanks -Camilla)