Santa’s Little Hacker Helpers

Nick and the AiA team have discovered a most awesome “accessibility” group here in Colorado.  In fact, so amazing is this group that they delivered Despicable Me Fart Blastersfartblaster to them for conversion therapy of a sort.  The group is called Santa’s Little Hackers and you all need to know what they do!  As you can see, the toy has a trigger.  People with Nick’s abilities cannot manipulate that trigger.

The mom and dad of one young man, Max, decided that Max should have a way to play with toys despite his motor-coordination challenge.  Mom asked dad to take a toy and wire a proper switch that Max could actually operate.  Without the switch, max apparently could not play with the toy as other children do.  This kind of play helps children develop eye-hand coordination, fine motor skills, and cognitive understanding of the the idea that when you push a button, something happens.  Interestingly, this kind of play also helps those who use speech devices so they can operate the device and develop language as well.  Here’s the video story of Max and his family, and how they came to be the Santa’s Little Hackers nonprofit:  “Colorado-based Santa’s Little Hackers bringing smiles to the faces of kids with special needs

Mission undertaken by Nick and the AiA team – we located some Fart Blasters and met up with Renee and Pasqual for the handoff, members of  The “Santa’s Little Hackers” team preparing for the Saturday hack-a-thon to turn 1400 regular toys into adaptive toys.

We have not heard yet heard about the turn out at the Saturday event, but we do know that this non-profit is one of the sparks of inspiration that we consider Awesome in Action and we think they are a great option for December 6th Colorado Gives Day!!  colorado-gives-day-2016

The Do’s and Don’ts of Conversing: Speech Device Etiquette brought to you by Awesome in Action


After many, many years and conversations in the community with people unfamiliar with Augmentative and Alternative Communication, Nick and his team have put together a comprehensive guideline for the average Joe (or Joe-ette) to reference. Hope it helps all parties within a conversation!


Here I am teaching preschoolers at T.R. Paul Academy how to use my speech device.

We’ll Start with the Do’s, since they seem more positive:

Do…Hear me. Listen to my words, and ask me to turn up my device or repeat if you do not understand.

Do…Focus on me when I’m talking. My words are important, too.

Do…Realize it is hard to speak in complete thoughts. It takes a lot of work for me to move my arms and find the right word on my speech device


Here I am with my Speech Language Therapist, Linda Everett. I still practice twice a week on my speech device!

Do…Recognize that I use a combination of gestures and words to get my point across.

Do…Understand my care providers are here to help me communicate.  I am the one who wants to talk to you.

Do…Talk to me, not about me or above me.

Do…Talk to me like you would anyone else. I have a sense of humor, and I am just like you!

Do...Respect my personal boundaries. I do not need to be touched  while you are talking to me. Family members and care providers need to remember this especially!


This is the layout for one of my speeches. I have over 10 speeches programmed into my device. There are 84 keys on my home screen, each which lead to 1 or more pages with even more words. That’s a lot of choices!!

Do…Wait for me to finish talking. Be o.k. with quiet as I look for the correct words.

Do…Minimize distractions,  it takes a bit of focus for me to communicate.

And now for the Don’ts….

Don’t….Talk too loud. I have a great sense of hearing, my friends call me “bat ears”

Don’t…Move too fast.I need to look at my speech device and cannot always have eye contact with you. Sometimes I miss gestures or facial expressions that you may need to repeat.

Don’t… try to respond for me because I am taking too long.

Don’t…assume I’m unintelligent and talk down to me just because it takes me awhile to respond.

Don’t… talk above my head. I can hear and I have feelings!

Don’t….ask me to perform. I will say the things I want to say when I want to say them (and deal with the repercussions!)





Here I am conversing with my friend, Alex.