Thursday, January 19, 2012


I'm assuming that all of you in the special needs community are familiar with the term Individualized Education Program, or IEP.

Since I know how many of you feel about the IEP process, and since we're trying to keep it clean around here (!), we're not going to talk about that today.

Instead, let me tell you about the latest, and hopefully greatest, thing we're about to embark on in the Rush home.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you..... the Electronics Intervention Plan, or EIP.


I know.  I know.  You like how I flipped the letters around.  I'm clever that way.  But enough about me.

So, here's the thing about the EIP.

For a while now, I've been thinking that while I'm a big, big, big fan of the iPad, it's just not been exactly what I want it to be.

Through no fault of the iPad, Lily just has so quickly learned to work it to her advantage that the device is not accomplishing what I was hoping.

Follow along with me:

  • We introduce Lily to the iPad.
  • We show her that it plays Backyardigans movies.
  • She contentedly watches videos for a week or so.
  • Then we introduce a few apps, showing her how to touch the screen to work the games.
  • She happily plays with apps for a week or so, only watching videos when we turn them on for her.
  • Then one day, as she is switching apps, she notices the youtube icon.
  • She remembers this is the button Mom and Dad use to play her videos.
  • Now she can switch between apps and youtube all by herself.
  • Then she gets braver and starts working the music icon, selecting songs from our iTunes library.
  • So now she can do apps, youtube, and music all by herself.
  • Then she figures out that all the icons do something so within 24 hours, she has learned how to change wallpaper, delete downloaded videos, access iPhoto and browse through pictures, view Ryan's calendar at work and make a few small changes, and send tweets on his behalf.
  • Lovely.
Needless to say, she can't be left alone with the iPad or she will send blurbs of the Backyardigans dancing to the Black Eyed Peas singing in German to all of Ryan's Twitter followers who will then be scratching their heads, trying to figure out why this was sent to them and if they're missing something.

True story.  I can't make up stuff this good.

Now that Lily knows everything the iPad is capable of doing, and how easily it can do it all, it's like she simply must work it.  She is no longer content to just play an app or watch a video.  She must fast forward and reverse her way through movies.  She must select a new family photo for the home page. She must attempt to log in to Netflix.  She must play one app for ten seconds to appease Mom and then try to crack the passcode that blocks youtube.  She must check out what people are saying on Facebook. She must play the phrase of one song over and over again and then switch to another song to do the same thing.

Get the picture?

While it's impressive that a 5 year old knows how to do more on the iPad than any of the rest of us in the family, it's frustrating to me.  I think it's got to be bad for her attention span and focus if she's constantly jumping from one activity to the next without really finishing anything.

And I really want to see her do more apps because that's about the only way I can get an idea of what all she knows since she can't just tell me.

Here's where the EIP comes in.

Despite the fact that most everyone in the world is moving towards one simple device that does everything except cook supper and wash the car, we at the Rush house are moving in the opposite direction.

We are going for more devices that function in a single purpose manner.

So, Lily has:
  • a portable DVD player just for watching movies.
  • an Mp3 player just for listening to music.
  •  an iPad just for playing apps.
  • an iPod Touch just for Proloquo2go, her communication app, for talking.
Four devices.  Ridiculous, I know.  

But each of them does only one thing.  

And Lily can only have one device at a time.

Now, you may be wondering how I'm able to accomplish having an iPad that just does apps and nothing else.

First, I had two conversations with Apple Support, throwing out my idea of a "gaming tablet", something that looks and works like an iPad but only supports apps and nothing else.

While they were both very nice, even telling me that what I was suggesting made perfect sense for my goals with Lily, apparently I'm the only one who really wants something like that.

I laughingly asked if maybe there was a way to simply "grab" an iPad off the assembly line after it gets loaded with app capability and before it gets all that other stuff on it.  

That's when they hung up on the crazy lady.

No, they didn't hang up but I think I may have lost a little credibility.

Any-who, I did the next best thing to getting something invented just for the Bird.  

I called my friend's techno-genius husband.  It's good to know smart people. 

After much discussion and thought (mostly on his part because I was no longer certain he was speaking English - he pretty much lost me after, "Well, we could try....."), he is "jailbreaking" the iPad.  

Meaning pretty much every single icon that typically shows up on the iPad will no longer show up.  The only icons will be ones I choose.  

And those will be icons for apps.

And only a few apps at a time.  Probably no more than five or six choices or I think she might just flip from game to game.

I'm fully aware that once the iPad is jailbroken, it no longer has warranty.  It's pretty much no longer considered an Apple product.  But we don't have any warranty on it anymore anyway so we're willing to take the chance.

And my techno-genius friend can "un-jailbreak" it, too.  Told you he was smart.

Of course, it remains to be seen if Lily Bird is as smart as he is.

If she figures this out, I'm done with electronics.

We'll move to a cave and go back to hieroglyphics.

The end.



  1. Just a thought... Before you take it out on the ipad, have you tried a LeapPad? I believe you need to get cartridges (like a portable video game player) so that would do something to limit choice... The pad is like $99, but I bet you could find a used one o Craig's list or Ebay!

    1. I've thought about a Leap Pad but it still does music and now they've even added a camera for photos and videos on it! Maybe I'll look into an older one...

      Plus, Lily has totally gotten used to the almost instantaneous response time of the iPad and if other devices "pause", even for a moment, she starts pressing buttons frantically because she thinks it's not working....

      I'm going to go play with a Leap Pad and see what I think, though. Good idea.

  2. For a child who has figured out how to eat through her clothes, but with some supervision, the first hint she's going for removing the case... Just thought I'd suggest AddyCase - Block the Home Button!
    Addycase is an iPad case targeting toddlers and young children. With this demographics' increased ...

    1. What a great idea! It looks wonderful but we have the original iPad and it looks like the Addy is only for iPad 2. Bummer. Going to contact them, though. Thanks for the info!

  3. I tell you, this girl is a genious!!! I gave her my iPhone while we were taking care of business in the restroom and when I got it back... Well, let's just say that I'm happy for the iCloud or who knows if I'd ever find where she relocated everything to -- but I am really digging the denim wallpaper she chose! ;)

    1. Oh my gosh, Darla! Please do not give her your phone anymore!!! It's going to end up in the toilet for sure.... And then I will be forever in your debt. I don't think I can take that hanging over my head...

  4. ROFLOL! Sorry Lana...but I love it! Lily is apparently outsmarted you all (us all really). However, I do agree about Mom2 in getting a Leap Pad. Those are really good. Don't know if it would keep Lily's interest up as she is such a "techie" herself..LOL. You might check it out though. Let's hope and pray your solution for the IPad works though. Sounds like you have it under control...for the moment.

    1. Going to check out the Leap Pad. And yes, she is too smart for her own good.

  5. I'm right there with you!! My son has it all figured out and now other parents and his speech pathologist ask him for help rearranging icons and whatever tech support they need!!! I had one mom bring her i-Phone after school to him so he could help her.

    Maybe she could be tech support too? Just a thought.

    1. If Lily's receptive language ever improves to the point that she can do tech support that people actually ASK FOR, then I will certainly consider hiring her out.... :)

  6. you can jailbreak your iphone too.

    I need your techno genius to help ME now.

    1. Tell me what you need! I bet he can do it....

  7. This gave me a good laugh today! Thank you!

    I think your "backwards" plan of having one device for music, one for apps, one for communication, etc. is perfect. When we went to our TEACCH training sessions they taught us how to set up different areas of our house for a schoolwork zone, a play zone, an eating zone, etc. It seemed insane at the time, especially since we have a small house, but it really works! So this is kind of that same idea applied to the devices.

    Our son hasn't gotten that far on the ipad, but you better believe I'm going to copy your plan when he does!

    1. It must be effective because elementary classrooms have been set up like that for years. I'm hoping the "zone concept" works with these electronics as well.... We'll see!

  8. **lol** I feel your pain! My son does the flitting from one thing to another. The only thing he doesn't use are the songs because he doesn't seem to like music (can't tell you how much that breaks my heart!) He's really into filming though and for a while I really wanted to figure out how to delete all the camera/photo booth/face time options.

    I like the leap pad idea and also for having a separate device for each activity. It's great Lily picked it up so fast though!

  9. She is definitely a quick learner. I just wish I could get her to direct her knowledge a little more productively every now and then!

    I'm going to check out the Leap Pad as a back-up plan. I always have to try to stay one step ahead of this kid - and that's a full-time job!

    Thanks for the comment!

  10. The true genius of Miss Lily is hard to deny! T does the exact same stuff that Lily does. I've not restricted him though because his iPad is his. I did take Twitter off and FB does not have login info - at least last time I checked! But he plays snippets of songs and then goes to YouTube and watches Blue's Clues (Planet Song of course) or watches videos of different cars and uses the search engine to type in whatever he wants to watch. He can spell and read so he's searching on his own. (I have found a couple offensive dubbed over Blue's Clues that I've told him were not acceptable - guess what? He listened!!) Since T is a little bit further with his receptive/expressive language than Lily, I just let him have at it. He's definitely learning at his speed and transferring and enhancing his skills on his own while having fun. And it sounds like that's exactly what Lily is doing too! While the techie genius stuff and separation of items might be good, you can always restore it back again when you feel she can handle it. I betcha that she will learn not to abuse the privilege...


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