Feature Matching of Apps for Students with Disabilities

Resource from Center on Technology and DisabilityCTD

In this webinar, Dr. Therese Willkomm discusses and demonstrates various tools, resources, and strategies to select the most appropriate app based upon desired outcomes, the environment, and the student’s abilities. Participants will learn how to perform an app analysis that analyzes apps based measurable student goals and the physical, sensory, cognitive, environmental, and social abilities required to affectively use the app for the intended goal.


The Center for Disease Control, CDC offers free Milestone Tracker Mobile App

Milestones matter! Track your child’s milestones from age 2 months to 5 years with CDC’s easy-to-use illustrated checklists; get tips from CDC for encouraging your child’s development; and find out what to do if you are ever concerned about how your child is developing.

From birth to age 5, your child should reach milestones in how he or she plays, learns, speaks, acts, and moves. Photos and videos in this app illustrate each milestone and make tracking them for your child easy and fun!


  • Add a Child – enter personalized information about your child or multiple children
  • Milestone Tracker – track your child’s developmental progress by looking for important milestones using an interactive, illustrated checklist
  • Milestone Photos and Videos – know what each milestone looks like so that you can better identify them in your own child
  • Tips and Activities – support your child’s development at every age
  • When to Act Early – know when it’s time to “act early” and talk with your child’s doctor about developmental concerns
  • Appointments – keep track of your child’s doctors’ appointments and get reminders about recommended developmental screenings
  • Milestone Summary – get a summary of your child’s milestones to view, and share with or email to your child’s doctor and other important care providers

The use of this app is not a substitute for the use of validated, standardized developmental screening tools as recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

CDC does not collect or share any personal information that can be used to identify you or your child.

Halloween Food Safety Tips for Parents

Halloween Food Safety Tips for Parents

Article found on the FDA Website.

Even though it’s not an official holiday, Halloween is much beloved by children and adults alike. What could be more fun than trick-or-treating, apple bobbing, or costume parties?

To make sure treats are safe for children, follow these simple steps:Halloween Pumpkin with candy

  • Snacking: Children shouldn’t snack on treats from their goody bags while they’re out trick-or-treating. Give them a light meal or snack before they head out – don’t send them out on an empty stomach. Urge them to wait until they get home and let you inspect their loot before they eat any of it.
  • Safe treats: Tell children not to accept – and especially not to eat – anything that isn’t commercially wrapped. Inspect commercially wrapped treats for signs of tampering, such as an unusual appearance or discoloration, tiny pinholes, or tears in wrappers. Throw away anything that looks suspicious.
  • Food Allergies: If your child has a food allergy, check the label to ensure the allergen isn’t present. Do not allow the child to eat any home-baked goods he or she may have received.
  • Choking hazards: If you have very young children, be sure to remove any choking hazards such as gum, peanuts, hard candies, or small toys.

Bobbing for apples is an all-time favorite Halloween game. Here are a couple of ways to say “boo” to bacteria that can cause foodborne illness.

  • Reduce the number of bacteria that might be present on apples and other raw fruits and vegetables by thoroughly rinsing them under cool running water. As an added precaution, use a produce brush to remove surface dirt.
  • Try this new spin on apple bobbing from FightBAC.org: Cut out lots of apples from red construction paper. On each apple, write activities for kids, such as “do 5 jumping jacks.” Place a paper clip on each apple and put them in a large basket. Tie a magnet to a string. Let the children take turns “bobbing” with their magnet and doing the activity written on their apple. Give children a fresh apple for participating.

If your idea of Halloween fun is a party at home, don’t forget these tips:

  • Beware of spooky cider! Unpasteurized juice or cider can contain harmful bacteria such as Salmonella. To stay safe, always serve pasteurized products at your parties.
  • No matter how tempting, don’t taste raw cookie dough or cake batter that contain uncooked eggs.
  • “Scare” bacteria away by keeping all perishable foods chilled until serving time. These include finger sandwiches, cheese platters, fruit or tossed salads, cold pasta dishes with meat, poultry, or seafood, and cream pies or cakes with whipped-cream and cream-cheese frostings.
  • Bacteria will creep up on you if you let foods sit out too long. Don’t leave perishable goodies out of the fridge for more than two hours (1 hour in temperatures above 90°F).

Allergies and Halloween.

Information on FARE and their TEAL Pumpkin Project

Call for Comment from US Dept of Education

Press Release

Public Comment Period Open for Regulation Reform Agenda

In February 2017, President Trump issued Executive Order 13777.  In this Order, ‘‘Enforcing the Regulatory Reform Agenda,’’ the US Department of Education is mandated to review current education regulations such as IDEA. This review would focus on:

*Outdated or ineffective regulations

*Duplicated services or regulations and/or areas of need to be created

*Cost effectiveness within US Treasury guidelines

*Regulations that eliminate or inhibit job creation

The order is seeking input on those regulations that the public would like to be considered for review.  Public comment can be made by mail to Hilary Malawer, Assistant General Counsel, Office of the General Counsel, U.S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland Avenue SW., Room 6E231, Washington, DC 20202, by email at: Hilary.Malawer@ed.gov or online at the web link below:   https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2017/06/22/2017-13157/evaluation-of-existing-regulations?utm_content=&utm_medium=email&utm_name=&utm_source=govdelivery&utm_term

Public comment must be specific and reference the regulation (FR Doc # 2017-13157) in the subject line along with specifics of the regulation to be reviewed and any suggestions or recommendations.  Public comment must be made by August 21, 2017.

KidGuard Resources for Parents

Parents of special needs children have several unique and sometimes challenging needs and situations.  Finding and recovering a missing child is perhaps one of the most frightening and difficult situations that a parent of a special needs child may encounter.

Per the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, children with special needs may be especially vulnerable to child abduction, kidnapping, and being a missing child.  Depending on the physical impairments, social, cognitive impairments, or communication challenges, a child with special needs may behave or act differently than their nondisabled peers, putting them at increased risk and/or impeding search and rescue efforts.

Compounding the situation, depending on their disability these kids may be prone to wander, run away from safe environments.  These children may also have a decreased sense of fear.  They may not respond appropriately with adults or in social situations.  They may engage in risk – taking behaviors due to that lack of fear.  The Autism society has reported that this is especially true for children with Autism, as these children tend to be extremely drawn to water, often lack safety awareness skills (safely crossing the road) and due to social deficits may be at greater risk of stranger persuasion as they are unable to perceive the strangers from a known adult.  In some cases, children with special needs may hide away from search teams, preferring to tuck themselves into small, confined, spaces, and non-verbal children may not be able to respond.

Parents of special needs children receiving special education services need to ensure that safety skills are being adequately taught and addressed in their child’s IEP.  Safety skills taught can include teaching a young child to walk side by side with trusted adult (reducing the risk of running in the street), teaching how to accurately and properly use a cell phone, identify when and what constitutes a need to call 911, teach how to identify “safe people” (police officer, fire-fighter or security guard), also teaching what to do if approached by a stranger using modeling and practicing various scenarios, how to respond in an emergency situation (natural disaster, active shooter, etc., thus reducing chances of getting lost, running away), how to use the internet safely (reducing their chances of being targeted by online predators) and how to manage bullying.

We found this wonderful recently launched Kidnap Prevention Guide developed by our friends at Kidguard.

Conversation Starter for Using the “D” Words

PEATC is proud to be one of the twelve partners to participate with the National Center for Learning Disabilities (NCLD) in the development of a new parent and educator tool.  This conversation guide for parents and educators is designed to help understand specific learning disorders and the role of the terms dyslexia, dysgraphia, and dyscalculia, particularly as part of the IEP process.

This opportunity came as a direct result of the October 2015 guidance letter issued by the USED, US Department of Education which “reminded schools that they can use terms like dyslexia, dyscalculia, or dysgraphia to describe the particular issues facing students who have SLD. The terms can be used in the evaluation process, in an IEP, and can help schools better understand the needs of each student.” (NCLD, Article June, 2017)

The printable resource can be found here: http://www.ncld.org/archives/blog/getting-specific-about-sld-a-conversation-guide-for-using-terms-like-dyslexia-dyscalculia-and-dysgraphia

Homeschooling in Virginia

 This week PEATC is excited to introduce Kathy Kuhl, author of multiple books including, Staying Sane as You Homeschool.  Mrs. Kuhl will be hosting an upcoming webinar entitled Manage Homeschooling Children with Special Needs,
through PEATC on May 2, 2017 at 11 am.  Registration URL: https://zoom.us/webinar/register/b95b152a231e20fa4ac87b605f06faf5

Homeschooling in Virginia

by Kathy Kuhl

Though I work with families across North America and in Europe, I often hear from parents here in Virginia. Often, these parents have never homeschooled before. Today I offer some advice for these Virginians; next week I’ll have some general tips for beginning homeschoolers with children who learn differently.

In Virginia, to homeschooling legally, you must notify your local school district of your intent to homeschool. This “Notice of Intent” doesn’t have to be done with a form, though some school districts provide one. (A few county’s forms ask for more information than the law requires you to give.) You can send in a letter or use the sample forms at the links below, as long as you meet the requirements of the law.

Virginia has two state homeschool organizations, Home Educators Association of Virginia and the Organization of Virginia Homeschoolers. Both have excellent websites. These websites both have information and good advice on submitting your notice of intent, as you’ll see in the links below.

Remember, when you submit a notice of intent, you are not asking permission to homeschool, and you will not be obtaining a teacher’s license.

You can find the Guidelines for Home Instruction in Virginia here.

Here’s a good explanation of the homeschool law in VA, with lots of helpful links embedded in it, from the Home Education Association of VA. (BTW, I am not a lawyer, and neither this nor the websites should be construed as legal advice.) As an introduction to the law, I particularly like this flow chart.

There’s lots of helpful information here on HEAV’s site on beginning homeschooling in general. HEAV also gives seminars and webinars on “How to Begin” and other topics.

And our other state organization, The Organization of Virginia Homeschoolers, has great resources as well. They do a great job keeping up on legislation that affects homeschoolers in Virginia. I especially like their video introduction to homeschooling.

What about hiring someone to teach my child?

Some parents want to find tutors to homeschool their children. In Virginia, you may hire a tutor who is a certified teacher, but then you aren’t officially homeschooling. You fall under Virginia’s “certified tutor provision,” as described here. Requirements are different.

What is Music Therapy and How Can it Help?

Noel Anderson, MMT, MT-BC

PEATC is proud to introduce our guest blogger, Noel Anderson, MMT, MT-BC.  Noel will also be hosting a webinar with PEATC on April 4, 2017, at 11 am. Registration for that event can be found here: https://zoom.us/webinar/register/397b9d8a276034cfdc2040ba88984b7b

What is Music Therapy and How Can it Help?

With a loud cry Julie, a non-verbal teen with autism, burst into the music therapy room. We headed straight to the piano and she began banging forcefully on the keys. I accompanied her in a very structured, rhythmic manner, adding little nuisances that matched her playing. This gave her a sense of grounding and also demonstrated empathy. Initially, I matched her quick rhythm, but then gently slowed. This helped meet Julie where she was, but also supported emotional regulation. As Julie cried, I consciously echoed her in singing a similar inflection. Our musical conversation again established a sense of empathy and understanding that I was there to listen. Within a few moments, she stopped crying and regained a calm disposition. We continued to play and “converse” on the piano as Julie’s affect grew brighter and brighter.

Through our playing, Julie, though non-verbal, expressed her feelings and was able to be heard. By imitating Julie’s playing, I was able to express empathy, while the steady rhythm helped ground Julie and allow her to regulate her emotions. This is music therapy.

Music therapy is an established health care profession that uses music to improve the well-being and health of individuals, young and old. A board-certified music therapist (MT-BC) may address social, emotional, cognitive, physical, or speech and language needs through music interventions.

Within the field of music therapy, there are specialized areas of study. One such concentration is Neurologic Music Therapy (NMT), which is defined as, “The therapeutic application of music to cognitive, sensory, and motor dysfunctions due to neurologic disease of the human nervous system” (Thaut, 2005). Within NMT there are currently 20 standardized therapeutic music interventions used to meet various neurological needs. Therapeutic Instrumental Music Performance, or TIMP, “Uses the playing of musical instruments to exercise and simulate functional movement patterns”. Instruments may be played non-traditionally, such as marching on tambourines placed on the floor. In this case, the client may be strengthening hip flexors and increasing range of motion. Musical Executive Function Training (MEFT) is another technique used within NMT. By the use of improvisation (spontaneous music making) and composition, executive functioning skills such as organization, problem-solving, decision-making, and reasoning are practiced. Through music therapy, functional gains are made and positive changes are achieved.

Anderson Music Therapy Services’ mission is to “facilitate positive change through music by supporting our clients, families, and community”. This is why we exist. Though we serve a wide range of persons, we specialize in working with individuals who have various developmental and neurological disabilities including; cerebral palsy, chromosomal abnormalities, intellectual disabilities, brain injury, and autism.

Consultations are offered free of charge to answer questions and discuss the benefits of music therapy.

Noel Anderson is a board certified music therapist, neurologic music therapist, certified music educator, and vocalist.

For more information about Anderson Music Therapy Services, visit www.amusictherapy.com

For more information about Music Therapy, visit the American Music Therapy Association’s website, at http://www.musictherapy.org

Thaut, M.H. (2005). Rhythm, Music and the Brain: Scientific Foundations and Clinical Application. New York, New York: Taylor & Francis Group.

Transition to Middle School

Published on Apr 20, 2016

Join us and explore transition into middle school. What may stay the same and what may change? Where can you find information and support? Mr. Bill Gulgert, Assistant Principal of Stone Hill MS will share with Virginia families a small blueprint for how to get prepared, stay informed and reduce the stress of middle school transition.

ABOUT THE PRESENTER: Mr William Gulgert, AP Stone Hill MS

Bill Gulgert is a father of three and an assistant principal at Stone Hill Middle School in Ashburn, VA. Bill has been in education for 25 years and has experience as a high school and middle school math teacher in special education as well as an instructional leader at both levels. He is a doctoral candidate at Shenandoah University and has earned his MS in Leadership at Shenandoah University. As an adjunct professor at Shenandoah University, Bill is able to prepare teachers with abilities which offer individualized and differentiated best practices to all students.