Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Heads Up! A TOS Homeschool Crew Review

I love doing this particular review (I have loved them all, but this one is different because I relate to it so much.)! I "get" Melinda Boring, because I have a lot in common with her. Boring homeschooled three children, two with ADHD and sensory issues. Her family business, Heads Up! is the place to get many of the gadgets, doo-dads, fidgets, supports and resources for children with special learning challenges that I've seen teachers and therapists using over the past eight years.

If you are the parent of "NT" children (NT = "neurotypically developing", and it's a kind of "code" for "not autistic" among families with a child w/ autism), you may not know about a lot of these products, and yet, Heads Up! may have an item or two that could be a big help for you at home, for a wiggly child or a struggling reader or one who hates to write anything out in longhand, to name a few examples.

I first learned about Melinda Boring on the internet several years ago. She had been a featured speaker at a state homeschool convention that I'd missed because I did not know about the convention at that time. I was intrigued by what I read about her on the convention web site, and ordered her book: "Heads Up Helping!! Teaching Tips and Techniques for Working with ADD, ADHD, and Other Children with Challenges." [If you're the parent of a child with ADD, ADHD, or is on the autism spectrum, I think you'll like this book (although that is not what I am here to review today).]

I was delighted to learn that Heads Up! would be participating with the Homeschool Crew this year, and that they would include those of us on the alternates list of reviewers!

If you are the parent of a child with ADD, ADHD, an autism spectrum disorder or other learning challenge, you probably already know that there are many products and resources available to assist with the issues that we see frequently in children who fit those labels. You, like me, may have seen some wonderful products in school or therapy settings, and you've probably spent some time reading about how to support and assist students who have such challenges. Well, Melinda Boring of Heads Up! is one of US parents, and Heads Up! carries a nice selection of products and resources that support families like ours as we work with our children.

Heads Up! sent the crew a huge selection of frames
and readers

for us to try at home.

"Heads Up! Helping", Melinda Boring's book, contains a chapter called "Visual Distractibility" where Boring offers many helpful tips, including a section called "Using Color", where she discusses in depth the use of colored overlays and readers.

I have known about scotopic sensitivity for many years; I own "Reading by the Colors," a book by Helen Irlen, and happen to know individuals on the autism spectrum in real life who wear Irlen lenses. There is a color-keyed self test included in "Reading by the Colors," but the text is for advanced readers, and I had not introduced those colored pages to my daughter. We have not been able to get our daughter to wear glasses (she won't keep them on), so we have not pursued Irlen lenses for her. Additionally, I know that many individuals with autism cannot see words on the paper under certain lighting, and they relate how they are able to read more clearly when text is printed on colored paper. I knew about colored overlays, but did not know where to buy them, and so we'd never given them a try. I like the fact that I can choose appropriate text with the colored overlays so that we can experiment and find our best fit together.

Having a variety of frames and readers allows families to use them for different purposes. One shape is better for isolating a section or single problem on a page of math problems. Another shape is better for isolating one line of text. The full page overlay allows the reader to view (obviously) the entire page through the color of choice.

Heads Up! sent us information about the frames and how to use them, and I went about the task of experimenting with them to see which one or ones my daughter was drawn to. She likes the shades of blue and she rejects the others. And so, the blue frames and readers have become yet another piece of the puzzle for us at home. :)

If you have a reader who struggles some or all of the time, consider trying some of the colored overlays. They are priced at $1 each, inexpensive enough to order one of each color for some experimentation at home.

Heads Up! also sent us a product catalog -- I had NO IDEA that this little company is a one-stop web site for all sorts of unique products for students with attention and other learning challenges! A lot of the products are those that Melinda Boring, a speech therapist by education and training, used to support her children in their home school. Parent recommendations are in my top two of reliable resources as I continue to figure out what works with my daughter. (Individuals on the autism spectrum are the other part of my top two list.)

Heads Up!'s product catalog is filled with other gems, too, in the form of inspiration quotes that are scattered among the pages.

A few minutes on the web site shows me that the products in the catalog are all listed by category on the web site, and clicking through the different categories is pretty straightforward. The Borings have a nice selection of resources and products, from weighted stuffed animals to provide proprioceptive input to a wiggly student, to visual timers, to books, audio cds and videos by experts in the areas of ADD, ADHD, autism, and other challenges. Heads Up! has chewy products for kids who need that oral motor input of chewing on something; they sell cushions for sensory input while sitting; there are handwriting helps, too. Spend a few minutes on the web site! Shoppers can find Melinda Boring's blog and helpful articles via the web site, too.

I like new tools to help my learner at home, and the colored frames and readers have been a fun addition to our toolbox at home. I'm bookmarking the Heads Up! web site, and am eyeing one of the visual timers with some serious interest! ;) If you're looking for a new tool in your homeschooling toolbox, check out Heads Up!, because they probably have just the thing!

For reviews by my crew-mates about Heads Up! and other products, click here.


Prince Andrew and the Queen Mum said...

if you have any extras...especially the long ones..i'll be glad to take them off your hands!!! i only have the square ones. he family also makes squishy rice filled balloons.

April E. said...

I just gave you a TOS Crew Mate award, Penny!

April (ElCloud)

Heidi said...

I have two different sized Time Timers if you'd like to see them before purchasing! Just let me know.

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