Ideas for learning more about technologies to help our teenagers

As parents, we want to do what is best for our children. Navigating interactions with our older students is complicated. Each age and set of circumstances presents constantly evolving issues to consider. If we hover too closely as parents and do too much, we may be called “helicopter” parents and risk preventing our kids from becoming resilient and independent. If we turn our kids loose and let them fend for themselves, we may be called  “free range” parents and our children may not benefit from our active interventions and guidance. With any level of involvement many teenagers reject parental interference. How do we achieve the ideal balance to support our high school students so help them feel good about themselves, benefit from helpful resources and interventions, succeed academically and become effective self-advocates?

Keeping up with changing technologies requires a great deal of time and it’s hard to know what we may not even realize exists to help our kids. Many of our schools are very good, but it is not their mission to help each student reach his or her greatest potential. We should not assume that schools are doing everything possible to help our child. We need to be involved. It’s very important to make sure you have a good understanding of your student’s learning strengths and weaknesses and the types of strategies and technology features that may be helpful. A thorough evaluation by an education expert can be very enlightening and IEPs and 504s are very important for many students with special needs to have access to helpful accommodations and interventions. However, in my experience, even when there are insightful written evaluations and helpful IEP Goals and recommendations, there is often a lack of implementation and students frequently reject suggestions that makes them feel different in front of their peers. In my experience, it the lack of knowledge of available technologies and how to best use them that is the weak link limiting successful implementation. This field of assistive technology has merged with educational technology and mainstream technology and the pace of innovation is so fast it is hard to keep up. If you can relate to this situation, please read on.

Parent Tip #1- Explore school resources

Find out what technology the other students use and what the school already provides. This information may often be found on the school’s website or by sending an email to the media specialist or person in charge of assistive technology. There are now many ways that students who struggle with reading, writing and staying on top of expectations can benefit from mainstream technologies without others realizing that they are getting special support. Is your school a Google for Education school? If so, your student may already have a Google profile that can provide excellent literacy and executive functioning supports any time they work on a computer and log in with their user ID and password.  Are students permitted to use mobile devices? There are many great features and apps to help with reading, writing and executive functioning.

Parent Tip #2- Take advantage of online resources and social media

Even if you don’t consider yourself tech savvy, it may be time to explore available tech resources that may be listed in formal report recommendations. Search online or seek professional advice. Watch videos. Check out blogs and websites. Join listserves. Follow the experts on Twitter. Take a look at pins on Pinterest. Explore options on devices you already have. Technology is the way of the future for our students. We need to take the lead by educating ourselves so that we can lend support and not rely on others who may not be aware of potentially helpful resources for our kids. As parents, we can do quite a bit to help our kids get started using helpful technologies.

Parent Tip  #3- Give it a try yourself

Once you have identified features of technologies and strategies to use for implementation, try some out yourself. Set up a Google profile and download some of the very helpful apps that can be used on PCs, Macs and Chromebooks. Does your child have difficulty with reading comprehension? Try using text to speech features on your computer or phone. Do they have digital texts from Bookshare? Could dictation help the writing process? Try Siri or a Google web app. How about reminders or timers? Most mobile devices have timers and most calendars offer reminders. Would they benefit from recording what is said as they take notes so they can zero in on the audio in the future to supplement their written notes? How do they organize websites? I have written previous blogs on these topics and more.

Parents Tip #4- Encourage use at home first

Students are often most amenable to exploring resources when they have extra time and can clearly see that the new tools will ease their pressures and offer them more time to do what they would rather do. Vacations may be the perfect time to try out new technologies.

Innovative Technology Treatment Solutions

My practice, Innovative Speech Therapy, is devoted to empowering families, professionals and individuals with the knowledge of how to use affordable technologies to improve communication, cognitive, literacy and learning challenges. I provide therapy and consultations to help people young and old with all types of challenges.

I provide individual consultations, webinars, workshops and have written books on this topic. Please check out my website at to take a look at articles I have written and learn more about how I might be able to help. Feel free to contact me at

I created two mini-workshops to help families, therapists and education professionals learn more about using computers, tablets and phones to help high school students who struggle with reading, writing, learning and organization.

Each workshop has a different focus and will be limited to 15 participants to maximize hands-on learning. The first workshop will take place on April 17th and focus on tools and strategies to improve reading and writing. The 2nd will take place on pril 20th and focus on improving organization and learning. Registration ends

For individuals who are unable to attend, the extensive detailed handouts are available for purchase prior to each event and will be emailed within a week after each workshop.