The desire for more independence at home, in the community, or at work is a challenge the Department of Developmental Disabilities (DODD) understands. Depending on the situation, assistive technology can aid in finding a solution to help with a person’s safety and support.
DODD’s Technology First initiative and the use of smart or electronic devices continues to open the door for increased independence across Ohio. For LeAnn Frankfather, her son, Dane Zeisloft, is the perfect representation of what support assistive technology can offer.
After learning to ride a bike, Dane wanted to expand his bike riding past the two-block radius of his neighborhood. Like many 12-year-old boys, Dane’s sense of adventure got the best of him one day and LeAnn became worried when her son did not come back in his usual timeframe. After some searching, LeAnn found Dane distracted by a squirrel that he tracked into someone’s backyard. Hoping to never feel that sense of fear again, LeAnn contacted the Wood County Board of Developmental Disabilities and spoke to Dane’s service and support administrator about options to help her keep an eye on him during his rides, without limiting his adventure and independence.
The county board provided a variety of options to test which led LeAnn to AngelSense, an advanced wearable GPS tracking device designed specifically for kids, teens, and adults with autism. The package incorporates a fob that can be tracked by a smartphone with a two-way voice receiver so a parent can speak with their child at any time. The device is always active, providing a real-time location snapshot of the child with the press of a button.
“It worked really well for him and all a sudden he had a huge amount of freedom,” said LeAnn. “He was able to go to the gas station or get himself lunch. There was an immense amount of maturity and that led to the sense of freedom.”
Dane started exploring the community on his bike and “graduated” from AngelSense after two years of use. He now has his own smartphone and utilizes a different app called Green Light Debit Card focused on a different independence milestone. This program provides him with his allowance which is loaded onto a MasterCard that he can use when he rides his bike to get lunch. Dane also uses Green Light to keep track of his chores. In the app, he can check his chores off, and his mom can confirm they are complete. The app also has options to start a savings account or try small investments or stocks.
Each day is different, but the sense of freedom and responsibility from AngelSense and other technology has positively impacted Dane and his family.
“It is important to know that when you start using technology it does not have to be used forever; it was an incredible stepping stone for us and our family,” said LeAnn. “It is a celebration that he has taken it to that point. He is very aware of what it started with and is grateful for it.”
To find out more information about DODD and the Technology First initiative, visit the Technology First resource page.