NEW Product Spotlight: Independence Day GPS-Enabled Clothing for Kids with Autism

This week, we’re thrilled to introduce you to a one-of-kind clothing line developed by autism mom Lauren Thierry. These unique shirts improve the quality of life, self-esteem, safety, and independent dressing skills of children and teens with special needs. Inspired by preppy American fashion brands, these stylish shirts come with a discrete GPS tracker embedded in the seam enabling you to locate your child at any time. Each pullover features stretch Lycra panels instead of buttons, zippers or laces, and no scratchy tags at the waist and neck, optimizing the shirt for comfort. Best of all, each shirt is double-faced so it can be worn backwards or inside-out and still be on the “right way”!

This week, we’re offering two of Independence Day’s stylish shirts at a 15% discount. We think these shirts offer quite a bit, helping individuals dress themselves appropriately while providing the comfort of knowing that you can locate your child if they should ever wander.

We’re also excited to introduce you to Independence Day founder and autism mom, Lauren Thierry. She’s written an excellent article just for us on her experiences with her son, Liam and how she came up with this ingenious idea. We hope you enjoy!

As Most Autism Moms Know, Revolutions are Relative
by Lauren Thierry

I have just been feted at lovely party in a lovely suburban hotel, where the emcee called my clothing line, Independence Day, “Revolutionary!”

As a former media person, I’m used to hyperbole. I know they have to have a hook, an angle. But I admit this made me blush and, well, made the journalist in me pine for “accuracy.” What I did was not revolutionary. It was simply something that had to be done. Like the moms in the 1960’s who safety pinned mittens to their kids coats before there were mitten clips. The moms did it because those “kittens” might lose their “mittens.” Revolutionary? No, just “mom sense.”
So when I figured out a way to “fashionably” GPS-dress Liam, my son with autism, it was pretty much “the mitten thing.” To the tenth power. No longer are moms talking about frozen fingers. They are talking about saving lives. Finding the one who wanders.

I took a mainstream rugby shirt and tweaked it just a bit, so that my son with autism could wear it easily, and softly folded a GPS into the fabric. That wasn’t a revolution. It was however, the start of a 14-piece clothing collection for those with disabilities. And it did start a “thought revolution.” That maybe those with cognitive impairments, or physical handicaps, could – and should – get dressed independently and look just like everyone else. And be safe and accounted for. So I cringe when I’m called a “designer.” I’m not even a fashionista.

ID Clothing Comparison

So why would someone like me start a “trendy/preppy” clothing line? Why would I carve out a niche in the preppy apparel space already dominated by Gap, JCrew, Abercrombie, Lacoste, Lilly, and Ralph?

Because that’s the stuff I wear, my typical 12-year-old twins wear. But my son with autism – and some 12 million other tweens/teens/young adults – cannot wear. Because tags, buttons, zippers – even collars – make those rugby shirts, cargo pants, and pretty pastel dresses impractical, uncomfortable, inaccessible and sensory-averse to those in that disabilities demographic.

ID Clothing Lauren MomBecause I’m an autism mom. That makes me a warrior mom. An activist mom. Someone who sees a lot of families, like mine, just trying to get through the day with a kid who can’t dress himself, except in baggy sweats and mono-color T-shirts. Even then, my Liam runs a 50% chance of getting those clothes on backwards. Or inside out. Or some other way that embarrasses his siblings and starts our day off under a cloud.

I’m not re-inventing the preppy apparel wheel here. I’ve just made some ingenious (patent pending) tweaks to these classic clothing lines, so that this population can have the opportunity of looking like any other kid going off to Greenwich High School, and the dignity of putting those clothes on independently – without Mom’s help for 30 minutes every morning.

I’m not just some suburban mom with a half-baked “really cool idea.” I’m a Columbia grad with a 20-year career behind me as a Financial TV news anchor. I’ve worked for small TV stations around the country as well as for Los Angeles and New York outfits from ABC/Disney to Time Warner. I’ve learned how to “think small” and “think big.”

ID Clothing Lauren CNNI quit my job as a CNN Financial news anchor to take care of my son and advocate for autism causes. I shot a documentary, “Autism Every Day,” which premiered at Sundance. Shooting that doc, I spent 24 hours in the homes of 8 “autism families.” I saw that, like my son, these kids learned by “rote” the fundamentals of dressing. But due to simple design obstacles like “fronts and backs,” there was a wide margin for error. That was my first “focus group” on the dressing issue, all down on film.

I shot footage of stressed-out, exhausted parents who’d given up trying to dress their special needs children fashionably, just putting their kids on school buses in pajamas.

I shot footage of siblings of these kids, embarrassed to be seen next to their minimally-dressed brother or sister. Their experiences reflected my own.

I’ve seen where my son Liam and millions of others with special needs are forced to adapt to a world that is simply not adapting to them, in some of the simplest of ways. Like getting dressed.

I’ll leave finding a cure for autism to the scientists. But I can put out a clothing line that’ll get these kids up and into clothes just as beautiful and classic as the major designers…and out the door in 3 minutes. On their own, independently. Mom won’t be here forever, you know.

Getting dressed – on trend, and on time – every morning. Now that’s Independence.


 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Lauren Thierry HeadshotLauren Thierry is the founder of Independence Day/ID, a technology and fashion convergence designed to address a myriad of safety and dressing issues for the special needs population. A graduate of Sarah Lawrence College and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, Thierry was a TV Anchor in local, national and business news for more than a decade before she left her job at CNN Financial News to care for her autistic son, Liam. She became a driving force behind numerous autism education initiatives. Among them, she created the fundraiser known as Autism Awareness Day at Shea – then at Citi Field – for which the New York Mets to devote one game a year to autism education. She brought in strategic partners Hess Oil, Prudential Elliman, Bear Stearns, Royal Bank of Scotland, BNY Mellon, and various hedge funds to the effort.

Thierry produced the documentary, “Autism Every Day,” described as “The shot heard ‘round the world for autism,” when it debuted at the Sundance Film Festival. Shooting the film, she saw that wandering/elopement were major issues for autism families. She also noted that the simple act of getting dressed for these families was a grueling obstacle course of “fronts and backs,” “insides and outs,” zippers, buttons and tags. That was Thierry’s first “focus group,” all down on film. Independence Day/ID Clothing was started to address those issues.

Independence Day/ID is an American Express Passion Project winner for 2013.

Pick of the Week: NEW! Photographic Matching Cards

One set of cards, so many different skills to work on! Photographic Matching Cards contains 260 cards – 130 unique cards with an identical match – that cover 12 basic categories: Actions, Clothes, Colors, Emotions, Everyday Objects, Farm Animals, Foods, Pets, Shapes, Toys, Transportation, and Wild Animals.

This week only, take 15% off* your set of Photographic Matching Cards by using our promo code MATCH15 at check-out!

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These cards are ideal for developing expressive and receptive language skills, as well as sorting and classifying skills. Students who are ready can use the cards to stimulate discussion and conversation. The cards portray children in a variety of settings, full of real life and childhood enchantment. Each of the 260 cards measures 5½” x 8½”.

Don’t forget to apply or mention promo code MATCH15 to save 15%* when you purchase your set of Photographic Matching Cards this week online or over the phone with us!

*Offer is valid until 11:59pm EST on March 3rd, 2015. Not compatible with any other offers. Be sure there are no spaces or dashes in your code at check out!

Pick of the Week: NEW! Inferencing Card Sets

Help students improve their inferencing skills with these brand new inferencing cards we’ve just added to our catalog! This week, you can save 15%* on the Inferencing Quick Take Along! Mini Book or the WH Inference Question Cards by applying our promo code INFER15 at check-out!

The pocket-sized Inferencing Quick Take Along! Mini Book is perfect for the busy speech-language pathologist, special educator, teacher, or parent. Help students practice their inferencing skills by responding to 520 prompts in 13 different categories covering: Actions, Categories, Cloze Sentences, Context Clues, Descriptive Clues, Emotions, Locations, Naming Tools & Devices, Occupations & Jobs, Problems & Solutions, Pronoun Antecedents, and Time & Seasons.

This small 5″ x 3″ book is spiral-bound, so you can easily flip pages and keep it open to the page you’re working on. The sturdy, laminated pages are tear-resistant and easy-to-read. Includes an Answer Key.

WH Inference Question Cards is a robust set of five card decks ideal for helping students reach the next stage of Wh-development, once they have mastered the basics. Each deck contains 56 double-sided cards that provide clues and hints to answer various Wh- questions. Side A has a colorful picture and a Wh-question (“Why is Karla waving?”). This picture provides clues that the children must use to infer the correct answer. Side B has a second, related picture and the answer (“She is going on a trip”).

The durable tin comes with 5 decks for Who?, What?, When?, Where?, and Why? Questions, each on a long-lasting metal ring for convenient use and storage. Leave the cards on the color-coded rings as you teach, or easily remove them as needed. Each of the 56 cards in the five decks measures 2½” x 3½”.

Don’t forget – you can take 15% off* either or both of these inferencing card sets by using our promo code INFER15 at check-out this week!

*Offer is valid until 11:59pm EST on February 24th, 2015. Not compatible with any other offers. Be sure there are no spaces or dashes in your code at check out!

Pick of the Week: NEW! Fun and Colorful Reinforcers

Reinforcers are a key element in any intervention program as they lay a foundation for motivating children to learn and acquire new skills and language. This week, we’re letting you take 15% off* on these great reinforcers we’ve just added to our catalog. Just apply our promo code REINFORCE at check out to redeem your savings on either or both of these reinforcers!

Pop Toobs – Set of 6
The fun never ends with these snapping, popping toobs! Each toob flexes back and forth, expanding from 8″ to 30″ and can be stretched, bent, and connected together. This is a great toy for working on joint-attention, reciprocity, response to sounds, and working on action words, such as “push,” “pull,” “pop,” and “open.” The toobs provide tactile stimulation while developing fine motor skills and auditory feedback. Most of all, they’re just plain fun to play with! Colors vary.

Ocean Wave Drum
Hold the ocean in the palm of your hand! This attractive Ocean Wave Drum carries a special textured wave-like rim. Gently tilt the drum and watch the colorful beads dance as you listen to the soft, gentle sound of soothing ocean waves. This drum also makes a great tool for practicing vocabulary (e.g. “shake,” “hit,” “up,” “down”), joint-attention skills, and using multiple objects together in play. This sight and sound experience will provide endless fascination and fun!

Don’t forget – you can take 15% off* your order of either or both of these brand new reinforcers by using our promo code REINFORCE when you check out online or over the phone this week!

*Offer is valid until 11:59pm EST on February 17th, 2015. Not compatible with any other offers. Be sure there are no spaces or dashes in your code at check out!

Pick of the Week: All Aboard the Language Train!

Endless possibilities make this “language train” a tool you’ll return to time and time again! Create-a-Game: All Aboard the Language Train creates a fun and creative way to enhance teaching language skills to young learners. The set includes a Velcro train and track that await your customized picture cards and words! This week only, you can save 15%* on our newly added Language Train by applying our promo code TRAIN15 at check-out!

With the Language Train, you can teach vocabulary, sequential concepts, spelling, reading, and more. You can even use it as a visual schedule. The set includes one 3-foot track and 8 train cars. Don’t forget to take 15% off* your order of Create-a-Game: All Aboard the Language Train by using promo code TRAIN15 at check-out!

*Offer is valid until 11:59pm EST on February 10th, 2015. Not compatible with any other offers. Be sure there are no spaces or dashes in your code at check out!

Going, Going… Gone – Save up to 30% on these last few items!

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We’ve marked down prices on more than 40 different products to make room for all of the new and exciting additions in our 2015 Catalog (Vol. 33), so you can SAVE UP TO 30% on puzzles, timers, manipulatives, games, schedules, and more! We still have a few left in stock, but they’re going fast, so act now before they’re all gone!

No promo code necessary. To request a copy of our newest catalog, click here!

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Pick of the Week: NEW! Socially Savvy – An Assessment and Curriculum Guide for Young Children

No child should be left to flounder in a confusing world of social nuances and expectations. Social competencies pave the way for a child to have fun at birthday parties, resolve conflicts with friends, feel heard, and stand up for oneself.

As our Pick this week, we’re thrilled to feature our newly printed assessment and curriculum guide Socially Savvy. Get your copy for an introductory price of only $39.95!

Socially Savvy: An Assessment and Curriculum Guide for Young Children helps educators and parents break down broad areas of social functioning into concrete skills. The included checklist pinpoints a child’s specific strengths and challenges—which in turn makes it possible to prioritize the skills most in need of intervention, develop strategies to address them, and track the effectiveness of those strategies.

This manual includes targeted, play-based activities that foster the development of social skills critical to a joyful childhood and future academic success. Socially Savvy is designed for all parties—from educator to the parent—working with children in planned and naturally occurring opportunities to help develop essential social skills. This manual serves as a resource to make both learning and teaching social skills a fun, rewarding experience. This guide:

  • Introduces the Socially Savvy Checklist and how to effectively integrate it
  • Describes the 7 areas of social development in detail
  • Provides skill-specific sample IEP objectives
  • Offers detailed step-by-step teaching plans
  • Includes 50 specific games and activities for teaching targeted social skills
  • Offers specific ideas on progress assessment and data collection
  • Shares two case studies to illustrate the process from initial assessment to intervention and data collection

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Soft cover, 256 pages, by James T. Ellis, PhD, BCBA-D and Christine Almeida, MSEd, EdS, BCBA.

Don’t forget—you can get your copy of Socially Savvy: An Assessment and Curriculum Guide for Young Children for our introductory price of only $39.95 for a limited time. No promo code necessary.

Pick of the Week: Emotion-oes – Like dominoes, but for identifying emotions!

This newly added game will put a smile on any child’s face! With 56 domino-like cards, Emotion-oes for 2–6 players is especially useful for students who are nonreaders. Players will learn to recognize emotions and identify feelings in facial expressions. This week only, save 15%* on your set of Emotion-oes by using our promo code EMOTIONO at check-out!

To play the game, each player is dealt five Emotion-oes facedown and must match the face on one end of his/her Emotion-oe to one end of the Emotion-oe displayed in the center. An instruction sheet also includes variations on the game for even more fun!

Don’t forget to use our promo code EMOTIONO at check-out to save 15%* on your set of Emotion-oes this week!

*Offer is valid until 11:59pm EST on January 27th, 2015. Not compatible with any other offers. Be sure there are no spaces or dashes in your code at check out!

Pick of the Week: Sensory Tubes – Reinforcers filled with endless possibilities of stimuli!

We love these Sensory Tubes here at Different Roads to Learning! This set of 4 clear and sturdy Sensory Tubes is remarkably versatile.
What we love about them is that you can fill each one with assorted visual or auditory stimuli that a particular student finds reinforcing, completely individualizing them. This week, take 15% off* your order of the Sensory Tubes by applying promo code TUBES15 at checkout!

Each tube features dual openings with 2 solid lids along with four vented lids that let children explore their sense of smell or even observe little critters.

The lids easily twist off and on, and the solid lids hold liquid securely inside. The tubes measure 12 inches in height and 2.5 inches in diameter. These Sensory Tubes will make your student’s reinforcement possibilities endless!

Don’t forget to save 15%* this week on your set of Sensory Tubes by applying promo code TUBES15 at checkout!

 

*Offer is valid until 11:59pm EST on December 23rd, 2014. Not compatible with any other offers. Be sure there are no spaces or dashes in your code at check out!

Pick of the Week: Fine Motor Fun Deck – Hands-on activities to reinforce fine motor & visual motor skills

Use your hands to be an alligator. Trace the dotted lines to make a mountain. Our newly added Fine Motor Fun Deck contains exercises and writing tasks that challenge overall hand-use and coordination skills. The front side of the card has kid-friendly hand activities for strengthening and dexterity, while the backs contain prewriting, wipe-off activities for reinforcing fine motor and visual motor skills. This week only, save 15%* on your set of the Fine Motor Fun Deck by using our promo code MOTOR at check-out!

Activities in the Fine Motor Fun Deck include tracing and drawing simple lines and shapes, connect-the-dots, mazes, name writing, and finish-the-pictures. There are four additional cards that provide directions, game ideas, and exercises for hand skill development that require the use of simple classroom or home supplies. There are 52 cards, each measuring 7″ x 4″, 4 connector cards (and, or, before, and after), and 4 dry-erase markers, all stored in a sturdy tin. Recommended for children ages 4 and up.

Don’t forget—you can save 15%* this week only on the Fine Motor Fun Deck by applying promo code MOTOR when you check out online or over the phone with us!

*Offer is valid until 11:59pm EST on December 16th, 2014. Not compatible with any other offers. Be sure there are no spaces or dashes in your code at check out!