Dr. Cindy Fisher, transition teacher, independence, problem solving, decision making, autism, Down syndrome, self advocacy, personalize, strategy, communication, problems, apps for autism,
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The Story Behind Smart Steps

35+ years in special education, affecting lives then and now

Hi, I’m Dr. Cindy Fisher, Smart Steps® President and CEO

As a special education teacher with over 35 years’ experience, I’ve taught and led in K-21 roles as a resource teacher, co-teacher, learning specialist, inclusion facilitator, and staff developer. My mission has always been to support independence and self-advocacy in students, which are important after high school. When young adults are transitioning to the ‘rest of their life’, whether it’s college, employment, or participating in the community, they need to be able to work through challenges on their own. Getting through tough situations builds resilience, independence, and self esteem. Employment is so valuable in giving anyone a sense of purpose; job coaching is available for some, but typically not on a permanent basis. As students navigate a college campus, supports that might have been available in K-12 are no longer there. Solving everyday problems is important, wouldn’t you agree? If you do, what is your school or agency doing to ready our youth for college and career?

My inspiration came about when working with post-high students with autism in the community. I noticed the amount of stress that came along with unexpected challenges. Visual schedules provided predictability and structure except in situations that involved decision making. The reason: Solving everyday problems can be complex becasue the solution depends on the context, personal preferences, and resources that are available at that moment. What works at 8:00 a.m. might not work at 12:00 p.m. There may not be someone standing nearby to ask. For many daily problems, there is not a one-size-fits-all solution, so I went to work trying to figure out how to better prepare my students.

I tried making flow charts, but that’s a lot of information to absorb and memorize. Then I thought, education isn’t about memorizing; it’s about accessing resources when and where needed. I realized this would make a great app, and that’s how Smart Steps was conceived.

In designing Smart Steps, I wanted several features to personalize the app experience. After all, people vary in independence, resilience, social skills, communication, awareness of safety, reading ability and so on. I reflected on the different personalities and needs of students in my career, and I spoke with hundreds of parents, adults with disabilities, and professionals at assistive technology conferences, autism carnivals, and other networking opportunities. I realized that the app needed to bridge a variety of needs. For example, some people don’t want to have to talk to someone when they need help. They would rather use the app and text message when they need help. Others like to ask for help before trying, so the app provides structure to encourage them to think for themselves. Some individuals have vision issues or may have a hard time reading, so they might want a read-aloud button. Some really like certain colors, or they see better with a certain color scheme, so they would want to customize the overall look. The most common request was to be able to edit current content and create new decision trees. I’m happy to say that these are available!

My vision is to bring a new level of support to adult services that is a win-win for everyone. Not only does this provide an efficient and user-friendly type of support, it’s fun to use. I’m excited for you to see it.

Ready to give it a try? Consider this an invitation to take some Smart Steps today with the Smart Steps Mobile app. Just click the Login button to set up your free account… It’s that easy.

I’m also available for consulting and onsite training. Contact me at connect@smartsteps4me.com to make your request.

President and CEO, Cindy Fisher, Ed.D.

Dr. Cindy Fisher has a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education with an emphasis in K-12 Learning Disabilities, a Master of Arts degree in Special Education with an emphasis in Learning Disabilities, an Education Specialist degree in K-12 Educational Administration, and a Doctorate of Education in K-12 Education Administration. Her dissertation “Photography as a Communication Tool for Persons with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities” bridged her interests in photography, social critical theory, self-determination, self-advocacy, and parent involvement. This qualitative study brought to light a new level of voice, the Voice of Grace, as an addition to theory outlined in Women’s Ways of Knowing: The Development of Self, Voice, and Mind (Belenky, 1986). Self determination is a core value, reflected in Smart Steps Mobile. 

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Contact Info

(913) 735-9870

Connect@smartsteps4me.com

www.smartsteps4me.com

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