In January of 2010 the idea of iTaalk was born. The son of iTaalk President Brooke Olson, received his first iPod® touch in August of 2009. Within the first four months his language blossomed and the results of his success were amazing his family, friends and therapists. If this success could be replicated for other children with ASD’s, then it was imperative that all children be given the opportunity and access to these interactive devices, and thus the original vision for iTaalk was formed.
After exploring the need in the community, it became apparent that the need was not only for the devices, but for the educational piece on how to use them as well. We now pride ourselves on our Training Series for families, “iTaalk 101-104,” as well as our Professional series “iTaalk 201-204.” We also provide an affordable Top 30 list of Apps that have been successful with children on the Autism spectrum. The incredible success stories and ideas on innovative ways to use the iPods®/iPads® with our children is what keeps us going. It is our dream to provide this training along with the interactive devices so that all children with an ASD can access this wonderful technology!
What we've done...
Since January 1, 2011, The iTaalk Autism Foundation has educated over 3000 families, service providers and caretakers on the beneficial uses of interactive technology with children with Autism and varying other special needs. Education is of upmost importance, and will ALWAYS be iTaalk's most important venture. With that said, the cost of technology can be overwhelming for families already struggling to afford necessary therapies. So, iTaalk has made it a priority to offer giving cycles where families in need can apply for iOS technology. Since April of 2011, we have given over 350 devices to children with an Autism Diagnosis. We are always accepting donations of used iOS devices as well as financial donations. In April of 2011, we were granted our 501c3 designation by the IRS, we hope this will encourage donations and increase our ability to receive additional grants and funding. For more information, please contact us for information on grants, funding and donations.
Where we are going...
With a generous grant from the Marathon Classic LPGA event and The Great Lakes Collaborative for Autism, iTaalk will be moving forward with a new venture. In 2016, iTaalk partnered with Bowling Green State University to open "The iTaalk Assistive Technology Lending Library." This will be the first AT library of it's type, partnering Assistive Technology graduate students with teachers/therapists/clinics/respite providers in teaching all the essentials of introducing a device. These teachers/therapists will be able to "Check-out" from a list of dozens of devices and be trained on maintenance and applications for each device. This will allow clinicians to "test" devices with their clients before recommending costly technology that may not be the right fit. School districts will have data to support the necessity before adding to IEPs, and many more benefits. This is just one more way to provide technology access to hundreds of more children and young adults with autism and related disorders.
iTaalk Autism Foundation is a 501c3 Non-Profit, with a mission to provide assistive technology devices to individuals with autism, and educate the world on the latest technologies that benefit individuals with special needs.
Brooke Olson, co-founder of iTaalk, was inspired to start iTaalk in 2010 when her son with autism began learning new words and spoke his first sentence after using an iPhone for only a few months. Brooke was named #3 in the list of Top Innovators in the field of Autism Research in 2014. Her professional background is in the field of organizational behavior and development, and has heavily influenced her ideas and vision for iTaalk. Brooke currently resides in Powell, OH with her husband Lars and their three children, Lena, Amick and Thoren.
Molly brings three decades of non-profit experience where she has worked to improve the lives of others - especially children. She is an advocate for autism reform, having spearheaded the autism initiative for the ProMedica Toledo Children's Hospital, now a lifespan collaborative in Northwest Ohio. As an aunt and "adopted" aunt of several children and young adults with autism, she knows first hand the struggles families face on a daily basis. As a board member for itaalk, Molly uses her fundraising and grant writing experience to help iTaalk further their mission to help families.
Kelly Van Singel
M.A. Assistive Technology
Tammy is the co-founder of iTaalk Autism Foundation. Tammy is actively involved with the Early Childhood Coordinating Committee (EC3) in Lucas County, the Special Needs Planning Series Group in Toledo, Ohio and the Highland Elementary Parent Organization in Sylvania, Ohio. Tammy's own battles with her insurance company, local school district and even extended family on treatment for their son was not expected. This was the catalyst for Tammy's passion in helping provide families with resources to reduce the financial strains on the family of a child with special needs. Tammy currently lives in Sylvania, OH with her husband John and their two children, John and Alexis.
M.A. Special Education
Administrator for Manatee District Schools (Florida), Special Needs Programs: mentally challenged, emotionally and behaviorally disabled, speech and language development programs, gifted students, learning disabled students, occupational and physical therapy programs, hospital/home bound programs, blind, deaf and special needs facilities and transportation planning for the district. Served on State of Florida-Department of Education-Special Needs Curriculum Committee for 10 years. Superintendent, Bradenton Christian School (16 years), Headmaster, Ft. Lauderdale Christian School (7 years), retired in 2009. Jerry and his wife, Roseann, live in Powell, Ohio. They are parents of two children: Drew Mitchell and Brooke Olson. Jerry and his wife have six grandchildren, one who is on the autism spectrum.
Mom, Wife, Advocate and Professional Volunteer. Kate has been a participant as an embedded parent in an education course at Bowling Green State University for numerous years and is currently a co-program coordinator for finding and supporting parents in the embedded Consultation and Collaboration course.
In addition to the countless volunteer hours she puts in, Kate is the mother to two beautiful children, Emily and Michael. Both children have been diagnosed as on the Autism Spectrum. Kate is a great advocate for her children as well as others, providing families with information and contacts. Her passion is supporting other caregivers and connecting them with resources.
Elizabeth Maher has been a Speech/ Language Pathologist in the Oregon City School district for 14 years. She also has taught and supervises undergraduate and graduate clinicians at the University of Toledo Speech/ Language Hearing Clinic. At this clinic, she has begun an AAC group therapy program. She has worked with many students (pre –K – 12th grade) with multiple disabilities and has a strong belief that iPads and technology can help people communicate and increase academic skills. Elizabeth has joined iTaalk to help other families get the right technology and information. Personally, she has two sons, Gavin (10) and Preston (8). Gavin has nonverbal Apraxia among other disabilities and is learning to use an iPad to learn and communicate.