Blogger Spotlight: Deanne Shoyer

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Today we are thrilled to feature Deanne Shoyer for the next installment of the Oceanhouse Media Blogger Spotlight as part of Autism Awareness Month. Deanne was an admin and founding editor of AppAbled.com, as well as the author of Small But Kinda Mighty, a blog about her experiences raising twin boys who happen to be autistic. See what she has to say about using tablets with autistic children, her favorite apps and more below!

Oceanhouse Media (OM): I understand that you prefer to refer to April as Autism Acceptance Month. Why is that?

Deanne Shoyer (DS): In short, it’s because awareness campaigns have had a negative impact on autistic people. In one of my blog posts I wrote that, “awareness stigmatizes difference but acceptance values it. I value my boys, just the way they are.”

One of my favourite pieces explaining the detrimental effect that “awareness” campaigns have had on autistic people is “A Call for Accountability”.

(OM): When and why did you create Small But Kinda Mighty? How did you come up with the name?

(DS): I first started blogging 3 years ago using a free WordPress site. My partner and I had recently started dating and he asked why I didn’t have a blog. I couldn’t think of a good reason so I figured I’d better get cracking. As to the name, I wrote a post explaining that.

(OM): How did you find out about tablets helping autistic children? What has been your experience with this?

(DS): In February 2011 I heard an interview on the Autism Women’s Network blog talk radio show in which Shannon Rosa and Melody Latimer talked about the huge positive impact that iPads have had on their children’s lives. I started following Shannon via Twitter and her blog posts at Squidalicious were instrumental in my decision to get iPads for my boys.

iPads have been life changing for my children in so many ways – their communication, fine motor skills, language acquisition and ‘academic’ learning have all improved. The iPad has been a bridge that has helped them make sense of, navigate and connect with a world that isn’t designed with their neurology in mind.

(OM): Tell us about the fundraiser you did to purchase iPads for your kids.

(DS): At the time a 64GB iPad 2 cost about $1,000 and I didn’t have the money to buy one of them, let alone two. So I decided to see if I could use crowdfunding to raise some money. I emailed friends, family, work colleagues and spread the word via Twitter and Facebook asking people to help any way they could. I had a yard sale and made leaflets explaining what I was doing and why. My neighbours stepped up in style and I got a few hundred dollars just from the yard sale alone. People blogged and shared on my behalf and I was so impressed and grateful for the support I got, including support from people I’d never met other than through social media.

(OM): What are some of your favorite apps for autistic children?

(DS): This is a tough one to answer as there are so many. Two years ago I wrote a post listing my top ten favourite free apps for autistic kids.

Another way to check out my favourites is to look at the ‘apps for autism’ tag on my blog.

There are also some developers whose apps just seem to ‘click’ with autistic children. OMBooks, especially the Dr. Seuss and Byron Barton book apps are very popular as are most apps by Toca Boca, Little Bit Studio, Busy Bee Studios and Spinlight Studio.

Thank you so much to Deanne for taking the time to participate in our Blogger Spotlight. Tune in again next week for the last spotlight as part of Autism Awareness Month!

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