Submitted By: Aimee Sterk
My name is Aimee Sterk and I work on the Michigan Assistive Technology Program (MATP) and on programs to build inclusive communities throughout Michigan.
When I travel the state talking about low cost assistive technology for community living, I usually get the conversation started by having group members talk about their favorite piece of assistive technology. Having facilitated dozens of these conversations, I have thought carefully about my favorite pieces of AT, AT that I use daily and depend upon.
1. My dishwasher. This is really my very favorite piece of AT. I have chronic upper back pain and am an Iron Chef wannabe. I can either cook or do dishes but if I do both, I experience burning back pain. My true love is cooking, so my dishwasher takes care of the clean up afterwards. If my husband is home, he is happy to do the dishes after a delicious meal. But I like to know that when I’m home alone in the kitchen, I can make whatever I’m inspired to make, and put 90% of the dishes and pans and cutting boards and utensils in our handy dishwasher. This saves me from the pain caused by curving my shoulders and upper back forward when I wash dishes. The quick cycle has become my friend after meals I cook for myself. I can put the few items I use frequently in there to clean so they’ll be ready for my next cooking adventure.
2. My Gmail Calendar synched to my iPhone 5. I have noticed over the last 10 years that my memory is not what it used to be. My polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) and insomnia related to PCOS conspire together to negatively impact my memory. I know I don’t remember things like I did when I was fresh out of college. Thankfully, I can set reminders and appointments through my Google calendar and have my phone provide a chime an hour beforehand. I make sure that I set times for reminders and appointments where an hour’s notice will likely get me there. Just this past weekend, my iPhone/calendar combo saved me by alerting me that I had planned to go to a ballgame with a friend—just in time for me to hit the road to the stadium.
3. The Stitcher App with a pillow headphone. When my insomnia is in full swing, I develop anxious thoughts at night. My therapist taught me some mantras to try but I noticed they did nothing to quell my anxiety—I just pleaded the mantras instead of using them to calm myself. One of my specialist doctors explained that the frontal part of your brain isn’t always clued in during the middle of the night, and that frontal lobe is where logic and reason are located. So, if that part is shut down, mindfulness and mantras aren’t so useful. I need to concentrate on something else, something I don’t generate and ruminate on myself—podcasts. I have a Stitcher station with all of my favorite podcasts. I plug in my pillow headphone so as not to wake my husband and lull myself back to sleep listening to Jillian Michaeals, Books on the Nightstand, The Shrink Show, America’s Test Kitchen, Radiolab, The Moth, Slate’s Double X Gabfest and Earth Eats. They are interesting enough to get out of my own head and are way more relaxing then the overnight news channels I used to listen to on the radio (too much war coverage). The Stitcher app has been a lifesaver for me and the pillow headphone has been a very good for my marriage.
What are your favorite pieces of AT?Tweet