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ATU595 – Ange Anderson Part 2

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Your weekly dose of information that keeps you up to date on the latest developments in the field of technology designed to assist people with disabilities and special needs.

Special Guest:

Ange Anderson M.Ed

https://angeandersontherapeutic.co.uk/

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—– Transcript Starts Here —–

Ange Anderson:
Hi, this is Ange Anderson and I’m an advisor specializing in therapeutic and technological interventions and innovations for those who are neuro diverse in schools and in families in the UK. I’m an advisor for a global VR company and writer of such books about technological and therapeutic interventions plus articles and papers related to T&T. And I’m also a conference speaker. This is your Assistive Technology Update.

Josh Anderson:
Hello and welcome to your Assistive Technology Update, a weekly dose of information that keeps you up to date on the latest developments in the field of technology designed to assist individuals with disabilities and special needs. I’m your host, Josh Anderson, with the INDATA Project at Easterseals Crossroads in beautiful Indianapolis, Indiana. Welcome to episode 595 of Assistive Technology Update. It’s scheduled to be released on October 21st, 2022. On today’s show, we’re super excited to bring you part two of our interview with Ange Anderson. So let’s go ahead and get on with the show.

Josh Anderson:
Listeners, usually this is where I slip a story in here about something cool, AT-based, or something like that, but I do have to recognize that October is Disability Employment Month here in the States. So this is always a very important month as it brings to the forefront the challenges that can face individuals with disabilities in finding and maintaining gainful employment. And some of the things that can really and truly keep individuals with disabilities from accessing the workforce is, of course, bias, just straight discrimination is always out there as well. And really one of the main things that at least I’ve seen in the experience I’ve had in the time working here at Easterseals Crossroads and in the employment side of things, be that in our employment division as a job coach, be it in our AT division as a provider and now the manager of a clinical assistive technology.

Josh Anderson:
A lot of times it’s just that the information that the hiring managers and other businesses need is not readily available and they cannot always find that information, and that might be what kind of accommodations an individual needs, or just what kind of accommodations are out there. And for someone who runs a business or does the hiring, that can be a scary thing. They might not know if they can actually accommodate a job for an individual. But I would definitely say if you are a hiring manager or someone in the position to hire folks, that if you are presented by someone with a disability that applies for a job, first thing I would do is ask them what kind of accommodations do they need. I know it’s right there in most applications but it doesn’t always mean that people, A, see it or, B, feel really comfortable putting that in there. But at least in my experiences, most accommodations… some of them get expensive, but a lot of them are not.

Josh Anderson:
And from time to time those accommodations end up being something that everyone can use, and something that may be able to help out your employees with and without disabilities. Here in America I know right now we have a bit of a problem where there’s more jobs than there are actually people to work, yet we also have very, very, very high employment for individuals with disabilities. I feel like these two problems when mashed together should be able to help solve each other. So if you are a hiring manager and you’re having problems filling some of those spots in your schedule, reach out to your local disability services organizations, reach out to your local vocational rehabilitation, reach out to these organizations and see if perhaps they might have a pool of applicants just waiting to find a job, waiting to join your team.

Josh Anderson:
Or if you’re an individual with a disability and you’re interested in working, reach out to those organizations as well. Reach out to your local tech acts, to your local vocational rehabilitation offices. Find out what’s out there to assist you. Again, I really do feel like this is one of those situations where you’ve got one group of folks who want jobs, one group of folks who need team members and employees, and it’s just getting them both at the table and introducing them to each other that will hopefully open the doors. If you’re looking to reach out to your local tech act to find out some information about maybe hiring individuals with disabilities, they may be a good place to start as they can probably get you in touch with maybe some different agencies that offer job coaching or other things. You can go to our website at eastersealstech.com/states, that will get you to a list of the tech acts for every state here in the United States.

Josh Anderson:
If you happen to be in another country, there’s got to be some organization or government agency that assists individuals with disabilities. Reach out to them and find out who you talk to about finding that applicant pool, filling those jobs, and really and truly just getting in a win-win situation for all. So again, listeners, Happy Disability Employment Month. But now let’s go ahead and get on with the rest of the show.

Josh Anderson:
Listeners, last week we talked to Ange Anderson about a bunch of exciting subjects. But as I mentioned at the end of last show, we ran out of time. So I am very pleased to bring you right after I get done yakking here, the remainder of our interview. Now you will notice that the very first few minutes is a repeat of last week, but I thought it important to go back to the question that she was answering when we had to end the show. Again, the first few minutes are review from last week, but then it will start right in with all new content and more of our very exciting interview with Ange Anderson. Take it away. Was there anything that you used the virtual reality for that was maybe a little bit surprising for you?

Ange Anderson:
Some of our students were quite happy. We were a primary-aged special school for 2 to 11, and by that time the children have been there a number of years, they’re very, very happy there. They don’t really want to move. And some of our staff have always been concerned about them moving onto the next school. And one of the staff said, “Why don’t we do a virtual reality of the new school? Meeting the teachers, all that kind of thing, but through virtual reality.” And we’d had difficulty, as lots of schools do, with the transition. Transition is always difficult for students who are neuro divergent. And so we did do that. We recreated the secondary school they were going to. The staff were all on there waving to them and so on as they went into each class and saying hello and introducing the class and all this kind of thing. The trip to the school and all these kind of things that they would find difficult were all on that.

Ange Anderson:
I went to the secondary school then in September, the first day they started the school, and we had a hundred percent success of all those students going smoothly into their new classes. No problems at all. I mean, that had been unheard of before. And then again, one of my staff had said some of the children had difficulty with actually going to see Father Christmas. The parents said they’re quite scared of Father Christmas. And one of the staff said, “Could we go and film the Father Christmas that a lot of our children go to see and put that in there?” We did it. And again, that was a great success. The dentists, even the dental colleges and all the rest, wrote up about it because our children have always had problems with going to the dentist and that again was a hundred percent success rate by recreating exactly the same as the dental surgeries that they go to, whichever ones the children go to is the ones we filmed and then we reproduce them in the room and then from then onwards they were successful in going to the dentist.

Ange Anderson:
So it doesn’t really matter what it is you are recreating, it’s just ensuring that you train the staff, you make sure the staff are trained in it. Now you can do, as I said earlier, there are companies springing up everywhere now that will deliver it for you, but obviously… I’m always looking at ways to raise funds, or I did when I was in that job, raise funds from charities and all the rest of it. You’re constantly trying to find money to do all these things. But as well as that, train all the staff. Now I firmly believe in giving the staff another string to their bows at work. By giving them these qualifications in all these different things, it gives them confidence, it makes them feel good about themselves. They can do things that some of us can’t do now because they’ve been trained in it and maybe other people haven’t been.

Ange Anderson:
So it’s all about ensuring that you’ve trained the staff to do a damn good job and you don’t really need to go out of house, but you can if you want to, if you can’t invest in your staff for whatever reasons, because there are loads of reasons why some schools can’t do that. If you can’t do that and you can’t do it through your own staff, then there are companies that will do it for you. But I tend to think that you’re then spending even more money when you could be investing that in a different therapy yet again.

Ange Anderson:
We introduced neurofeedback therapy, which is another technological aid, back several years ago now. I expect you’ve heard of neurofeedback. It’s a fantastic therapy. We used NeurOptimal. One of our children who had ADHD and was having 30 behavioral instances a week, we raised the funds for NeurOptimal, which is about 12 grand, and my assistant head offered to go off and do the training for it. He then trained some staff within the school and we delivered neurofeedback. And that boy was the first one on the list to have it because neurofeedback is supposed to be very good for ADHD. Within 10 days his life had changed and his carer… he lived with his auntie, came to see me quite unexpectedly. “I had to come and see you,” she said, “because since I’ve had him as a baby, he’s never slept.” And she said, “I have to stand in his bedroom now watching him asleep because I cannot believe that he sleeps throughout the night.”

Ange Anderson:
On top of that, she said she’d taken him, with the advice of the local behavior group, to a youth club and she was so worried and she said the first day there, one of the boys there thumped him and she said, ordinarily, you know what he’s like, he’d have had a good go-back. She said instead he turned and explained to him that he would have to go and talk to the leaders of the group because they weren’t supposed to fight. She said his reasoning skills are just fantastic. And that’s what we found is his behaviors went from 30 a week to about five a month because this neurofeedback had trained his brain in reasoning skills. Neurofeedback, and it’s obviously very expensive. I’m now working with a portable version called Mendi, which you can use a search engine to find out about online and that’s pretty good as well. It’s a portable version. It’s only $250, I think.

Ange Anderson:
Neurofeedback is another really good one. And it is like horses for courses, you look for what is going to work for that particular child because some things don’t work for everybody. Vibroacoustic therapy is another brilliant one, which I’m trained in. I’m trained with the Olav Skille Center over in Finland. And neurofeedback is about using vibrations. We all know that that’s what the universe is made up of is vibrational energy. Vibroacoustic therapy is all about feeling the vibrations. You don’t hear them, you feel the vibrations. I managed to get a charity to donate a waterbed, although you haven’t got to use a waterbed. And we had all the transducers built into the waterbed and then they felt the vibrations of that while they were sat in the room. And vibrations can do all sorts. It certainly helped with some of our children who were immobile and constipated. It certainly helped them with that. But it also helped…

Ange Anderson:
I know one of our boys who had challenging behavior and autism would come and look for me over lunchtime because he knew if he took himself into that vibroacoustic room and he laid down on that for 20 minutes, the rest of his lunchtime would be fine. He had learned himself that from being at our school for a number of years. He knew what therapies worked for him. I mean, we all know that eye-gaze is a brilliant therapy for students who can’t communicate very well. And I can remember having one boy in school who had been diagnosed as having PMLD. He didn’t have PMLD, he just couldn’t communicate. Once we used the eye-gaze with him, after a few days of using the eye-gaze, he told the teaching assistant who was in there with him, who was trained in using the eye-gaze to go and get it. It was about time she went and had her lunch. I mean, this is not a child with PMLD. And eye-gaze allowed us to find that out. So it is about finding out.

Ange Anderson:
Another one, which is a technology which is really good is auditory integration therapy. Another one I’ve been trained in or filtered sound therapy in which there’s kind of… the student or person listens to this filtered sound and it’s like listening to pieces of music but bits of it cut out and it retrains the ear to brain connection. We all know, for instance, if you think about a car for instance, it’s coming out of the… it’s just been made and it’s a Friday afternoon and things haven’t been finally tuned enough when it comes out. You’ve got a brand new car but not everything’s working to its optimum. Well, you think of a human being and all the wonderful things that a human being is made up of, the hearings, all the different senses, everything that the motor planning, everything. And you think that sometimes there’s going to be the ear to brain connection’s not going to be tuned in a hundred percent. AIT therapy will do that or filtered sound therapy will do that.

Ange Anderson:
Filtered sound training, rather, or auditory integration training will train the ear to brain connection so that it can work more efficiently. It’s all about finding out… You sometimes find a child who may be in your class who isn’t listening properly, or they find the noise terrible in the class, so you would give them ear defenders to wear so that they can filter out the sound that surround them and so on. So it’s always about what is best for that particular student isn’t necessarily going to be any good for somebody else.

Josh Anderson:
No, that’s very true. And I think that’s the challenge is really finding out what is going to work for that one student and help them get to the best of their ability. Ange, I’ve got to ask if someone is looking or just maybe not happy with what’s out there as far as services, if there’s not a school like the one that you had and other things, where do they start? Where do they start to find this information or to help their students, their child themselves?

Ange Anderson:
The first thing I would do, Josh, is… The very first thing that I would do if I was a parent, so before a child even goes to school, is I would do my own sensory profile. I would do my own sensory profile. For instance, I’ve written a book on clay and if you go to appendix three in play, you will find out all the different sensory… For instance, if you go to appendix three, it’ll give you the 54 natural web strings, self evidence senses and sensitivity. So there’s 54 such as the radiation senses, the feeling senses, the chemical senses, the mental senses, sense of time, sense of mind, sense of consciousness and so on. And then if you go to the resource section to page 120 in that book, there’s a sensory profile template. If you combine the two, the appendix three and the sensory profile template, you can write out a sensory profile for your child that can help your family and others understand the needs of your child.

Ange Anderson:
So for instance, there’s an auditory section on there. You may decide to fill in that your child is easily distracted by background noises. That will inform a teacher or a child or a relative that your child would benefit from ear defenders or maybe even from having AIT or FST therapy. I would say the first most important thing as a parent who thinks what, it doesn’t matter if your child’s neuro divergent, every one of us has some sensory difficulties, some sensory thing that either we really like or we don’t like and all this kind of thing. I think a sensory profile instead of what you usually get when you go into any school over here is they have to do an assessment of the children straight away, so a cognitive kind of assessment. Well, I think a sensory profile is far more important because it tells you how you can help that child to learn in the first place. Because it may be that you need ear defenders to be able to concentrate, to be able to be in the right frame of mind to learn.

Ange Anderson:
It’s all about, I would say, do that first and then find out for yourself, “Okay, so my child seems to have a sensory need in this area.” And then I would look for, “Well, how can I provide that sensory need? Is it provided in that school? If it isn’t, why isn’t it? Can I raise funds so that it is? Can I find out whether they’re going to provide it or do I need to look privately for that particular therapy that I know will enable my child to be in the right frame of mind?” Because as I said at the beginning of our talk, we’re born into two worlds. We’ve got an inner world and we’ve got the outside world that we’ve got together along in. We cannot cope in that outside world until we’ve sorted out our inner world and our inner world may be having some problems because of certain sensory information that isn’t coming through in the right way.

Ange Anderson:
And we are that car that arrives on a Friday afternoon that may not have been tuned properly in certain areas. We haven’t come out of that, out of that production line perfect. There may be a couple of things that need fine tuning before we can say we’re completely whole.

Josh Anderson:
And I could not agree more. Ange, you mentioned a little bit there in your talk that you’ve got a couple of books on the subjects we talked about as well as some others. Could you let us know what are maybe the topics of some of those and how can our listeners find out more and even go find those books if they so choose?

Ange Anderson:
Well, the easiest thing is to go to angeandersontherapeutic.co.uk. That’s my website. And on that website, all of my books are on there and links to where you can buy them from, all different links. You haven’t got to go straight to Amazon. There’s all different links for where you can get them from. So there is certainly a book on virtual reality, augmentative reality and artificial intelligence for children [inaudible 00:20:07] neuro divergent, but actually for neuro typical children as well. There’s a book on learning through play for children. There’s a book on music, sand and vibration for children and there’s a book on therapeutic trampolining. Now that’s quite a hefty book with a book on therapeutic trampolining because it goes off into different areas of explaining different Neuro diversities and why you would never do trampolining for somebody who’s got profound multiple and difficulties in the same way that you do trampolining for somebody who’s got ADHD or for somebody who’s got dyspraxia or dyslexia or so on.

Ange Anderson:
There are different ways that you would teach for each of those different students. And so my premise always is that if students can’t learn in the way that we teach, then we need to teach the way that they learn best. We cannot carry on thinking that we teach in a traditional way where all these children are stuck sitting, listening to one person at the front. Even some of the changes that have been made where students are more included in what’s going on through the day may not be sufficient for some students who may have already switched off because you are not meeting the way that they learn best. It’s all about finding what works for that child.

Josh Anderson:
And I hope that is something that everyone latches onto, not the, “Hey, I’m going to teach this way and you’ll either learn or not.” I mean, not just for kids with special needs or anything like that, really for everyone. Everyone learns differently and I think it’s very important to be able to find out exactly how they learn and be able to tailor the learning experience to them. You’re going to get so much better results. And I think you’ve kind of proved that in just some of the stories you’ve told today.

Ange Anderson:
You’re quite right, Josh. But I think the most important thing is the training staff, is training staff. That’s where the money needs to go on, is to ensure that the staff know what they’re doing because it’s not their fault if they haven’t been trained. If they only know one language, say Chinese, they’re not going to be able to teach French, so it is about training them.

Josh Anderson:
And maybe that’s something that’ll come out. I don’t know how things are in the UK right now, but I know here in the States it’s very hard to find folks. I think there’s more jobs than there are people. So hopefully maybe one good thing that’ll come out of that is taking the extra time to train staff, to really build up the folks that you have in order to, well to keep them around. You brought it up in your talk there about just as you train your staff, as you make them stronger and better, it’s good for them as well as it’s good for you and for the students that you serve.

Ange Anderson:
Most definitely. It gives them confidence in themselves. Most definitely.

Josh Anderson:
Confidence just makes them important because they are, not just…

Ange Anderson:
Gosh, we couldn’t manage without the staff and it’s cost effective as well other than paying to have these people come in with all the expertise. I mean, now I’m reading that all these places are setting up at the moment where these so-called experts are now going to offer to go in and deliver these therapies into schools. And I think to myself, “That doesn’t need to happen.” You can do it in school. You can train your own staff so that you have ownership. So they have ownership. So you all feel part of a big family where you are all creating the very best education that you can for the students in your care.

Josh Anderson:
And that is the important part. And let’s just hope that maybe that’s a change we see because that money you’re spending to bring in the experts, which sometimes is something you just have to do. And I’m not trying to discount them at all. But at the same time, if you’ve already got a strong staff, them give them those skills, they’re just probably going to impress and amaze you as they have and that’s why they’re there with you. That’s why you hired them in the first place. No, I could not agree more. I definitely know I could not do anything that I do here in my position without my absolutely amazing team. And anytime they want to learn something new or there’s something new, we try to support that as much as possible just because we’re here to help folks and work with them to accomplish their goals and the better we can be, the better we can assist. And it sounds like you’ve got that exact same mindset with your teams as well.

Ange Anderson:
Yeah.

Josh Anderson:
Well, Ange, I want to thank you again so much for coming on the show and talking about all this amazing stuff. I could probably go on for, but eventually we’ll fill way too many shows. So could you do me a huge favor and just give me that website again just so our listeners can find it and I’ll make sure to put it in the show notes for them as well.

Ange Anderson:
Yeah, I’ll spell it out for you. A-N-G-E, Ange Anderson. So it’s all one word. A-N-G-E-A-N-D-E-R-S-O-N, therapeutic, T-H-E-R-A-P-E-U-T-I-C, so that’s all one word, angeandersontherapeutic.co.uk. And that’ll take you to the website where there’s everything on there. It also gives you a link to the YouTube channel, my YouTube channel where I give lots more information about lots of other things on there that people have asked me to do. And there’s a blog on there. It gives you lots more information on the website. And Josh, I just want to say that I really love your show. I find it very informative and I’ve got a lot out of listening to it. Thank you very much.

Josh Anderson:
Well, awesome. Well, I really do appreciate that and Ange, definitely we will have to have you back on sometime because I feel like we could probably go on forever. Definitely listeners lookout because we’ll be having Ange on again sometime in the future whenever we can get her away from all the other busy things she’s doing. Ange, thank you again.

Ange Anderson:
Thank you, Josh.

Josh Anderson:
Do you have a question about assistive technology? Do you have a suggestion for someone we should interview on the Assistive Technology Update? If so, call our listener line at (317) 721-7124. Send us an email at tech@eastersealscrossroads.org or shoot us a note on Twitter @indataproject. Our captions and transcripts for the show are sponsored by the Indiana Telephone Relay Access Corporation or InTRAC. You can find out more about InTRAC at relayindiana.com. A special thanks to Nicole Preeto for scheduling our amazing guests and making a mess of my schedule. Today’s show was produced, edited, hosted, and fraught over by yours truly. The opinions expressed by our guests are their own and may or may not reflect those of the INDATA Project, Easterseals Crossroads, our supporting partners or this host. This was your Assistive Technology Update. And I’m Josh Anderson with the INDATA Project at Easterseals Crossroads in beautiful Indianapolis, Indiana. We look forward to seeing you next time. Bye-bye.

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