Goally is a visual scheduler for kids that actually works (feat Tanna Neufeld) S5E39

So many of our kids benefit from visual schedules, but they can be a pain to create and manage. Goally is a visual scheduler for kids that actually works. It’s incredibly versatile, digital, easy to use, and grows with your kids.

Tanna Neufed is a speech pathologist and Product Manager at Goally. She’s here to explain how Goally can help your kiddo.

Guest Bio:

Tanna Neufeld is a licensed, ASHA-certified speech-language pathologist with over 15 years in the field working with complex communicators and their families. She is adjunct faculty for the University of Washington’s Augmentative Communication Foundations course and works full-time as a Product Manager at Goally, an assistive technology startup with the mission to ease the lives of neurodiverse individuals and their families through accessible and affordable technology and services. In her role as Product Manager, Tanna has the unique opportunity to bring the skills she has learned as a speech therapist to the task of building innovative assistive tech tools rooted in child and family-centered best practices.

Learn More About Goally at getgoally.com

Use the code “theautismdad” at check out to save 10%

Host Bio:

Rob Gorski is a single Dad to three amazing autistic boys as well as Found and CEO of The Autism Dad, LLC. Multiple award-winning blogger, podcaster, content creator, digital marketer, social media influencer, and respected public figure for well over a decade.

Connect with Rob Gorski: https://listen.theautismdad.com

Mentioned in this episode:

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[00:00:00] Rob Gorski: Welcome to The Autism Dad Podcast. I’m Rob Gorski, and on this show we talk about all things related to autism and parenting and ADHD and and mom stuff and dad stuff. We talk about technology and mental health and self care and all those things that are important and relevant in your life that maybe we just don’t talk about enough.

[00:00:16] We do that here. So thank you for taking the time to, I really appreciate it. I’ve got a really good show for you guys today. So there’s a lot of families out there who have kids that benefit from things like visual schedules, uh, token boards. Behavioral trackers, uh, AAC talking apps. There’s, there’s a whole world of technology that has been designed to help kids overcome certain obstacles or just learn to better navigate the world.

[00:00:44] Right. You know, ideally we’d be able to do all those things as parents and, you know, the reality is that we can. You know, at least most of us can’t. And it’s not because we don’t care, it’s not because we’re lazy, but we lack the support. Sometimes we lack the skill sets and, and sometimes life is just too stressful and overwhelming and it’s just, you know, we need help.

[00:01:07] Right. And technology is something that when used appropriately and for the right reasons, under the right conditions, it can be enormously beneficial to families like mine and families. So my guest today is Tana, and she is going to have a conversation with us about something called Goally. Now, I’ve been using Goally with my kids for a couple of years now.

[00:01:31] My oldest is 22 and he’s using it to help prepare himself for independent living. And, uh, I really, really am a big fan of Goally. So, uh, Tana, thank you very much for taking the time to qu show. Could you take a moment, tell us a little bit about who you are, what you do, and then we’ll kind of dive into, uh, some things about.

[00:01:49] Tanna Neufeld: Absolutely. Thanks so much for having me. My name is Tana Neufeld and I am a speech therapist by training. But most recently I’ve been, uh, given the pleasure of using my clinical skills to help develop products. For kids with different learning needs. So, um, I’m currently kind of splitting my time helping Goally, uh, develop software products to help kids and families.

[00:02:12] And then I also maintain, um, some time on the side where I continue to work with families to help them, um, support their communicators in getting cation skills and independence.

[00:02:22] Rob Gorski: Very, very cool. I just had, um, Macel Smith was on the show. Well, by the time you guys hear, this’ll be a couple of weeks and she’s a speech pathologist, and we had a whole kind of, uh, sort of like a whatever, kind of educating people about what speech therapy is because there’s a lot of misunderstandings about what it actually is and all of the things that it can do to improve your child’s life and help with.

[00:02:45] All kinds of interesting things, so that’s very, very cool. So hopefully everybody has an understanding of what that is as we’re going into this. You mentioned Goally, we’ve talked about, golly, on a show before, and I’ve talked about it on a blog and, and stuff like that. But could you kind of give people a brief overview of what Goally is and sort of like what the point of, of Goally is, how it’s supposed to help and who would helps, and uh, just sort of some basic information about that.

[00:03:09] Tanna Neufeld: Yeah, absolutely. So I kind of think of Goally’s, uh, product collection cuz it’s a collection of a lot of different little tools. Um, I think of it as kinda like a parenting sidekick, you know, So there’s a lot of things that as a parent, you’re doing, uh, every day to support the needs of your, uh, either young child or young adult transitioning into independence.

[00:03:30] And the products that we develop on golia are meant to serve two purposes in helping you do that job. The first one is to actually teach your child skills to move toward independent living. And those might be skills, uh, related to caring for themselves, um, doing chores, being responsible. So we use a lot of visual schedule technology, video modeling technology, um, reinforcement and motivation principles to help you, um, help your child.

[00:04:00] A, achieve those independent skills by learning with Goally, learning how to do them. Um, and then the second piece that it’s trying to attempt to help your child with, um, maybe as they move into Teenhood and young adulthood is if there’s still some remaining areas where, uh, full independence is harder.

[00:04:18] Goally can be a tool to help compensate for challenges such as, uh, challenges with memory, uh, challenges with attention. So similar to the way that we use our phones to kinda keep our day organized, to keep our priorities in line. Um, Goally serves that purpose for children as they age into those older stages of life.

[00:04:37] Rob Gorski: It’s funny that you say that because, uh, my, my oldest is 22. and, uh, he is, he’s prepping for moving out. And, and I’ve talked about this a bunch of times recently. Um, trying to help him prepare for that can be tricky because there’s, there’s a lot of things he does really, really well. And then there are some things that he just needs.

[00:05:05] It doesn’t have to be like a person saying, Okay, Gavin, you need to go do this now. He just, he just needs something to. Pull him out of where he kind of gets stuck in and, and it’s usually his phone playing a game or, you know, reading something or whatever. And what, what we have chosen to do, what we have found that works best is he uses Goally on, um, the, the tablet, the separate tablet instead of using the app on his phone.

[00:05:33] Because what I found with, with the app on his phone is, is that he has a harder time, uh, He, he, I think he’s kind of used to just sort of dismissing notifications that pop up on his phone or he has that, uh, Samsung, I think it’s called Game booster, whatever, where it blocks notifications while you’re playing your games.

[00:05:52] Like you don’t get interrupted cuz it’s so important or whatever. Uh, but you know what, what he does is he has it set up on the other side of his room so that when it comes up, He has to actually, it, it sort of just pulls him out of what he’s in because it’s like an outside thing and it’s not me micromanaging, which I really like because I hate, I hate micromanaging things and people and whatever, and, and if it’s something that he doesn’t want to do, I’m not the one making him do it.

[00:06:24] Right. Goally’s making him do it. So I, I, I feel like it works out really well, , because, you know, I don’t have to be over top of him. He can. A and he set up his own, he set up his own schedule. He put the, the parenting app on his phone. Right. And, and, and set up his own routines because he’s, he’s trying out new routines because he’s trying to predict what life is gonna be like when he is living, wherever he’s gonna be at.

[00:06:50] And he’s practicing these routines and he just needs like a. Gentle reminder about timings of things and then some things he needs, some, some checklist, kind of like step by step things, just to remind him, make sure that he, he kind of checks everything off and he’s 22. And, and I think that’s probably outside of the, is that sort of outside of the, the typical age range?

[00:07:15] Tanna Neufeld: Of of Goally users? You know, I don’t think so because one of the things that you mentioned, um, at the start of your story is that it’s really helpful for your son to have something separate from. Leisure time, hobby time, the things that he’s doing for his vocation right at that moment, it’s easier for him to have another tool.

[00:07:34] And I think that that’s one of the things we’ve found families who are using Goally with older individuals, they say the same thing. Having a device that’s dedicated to help with this support and management of your day and your responsibilities, um, just seems to work better for some. And you know, the tools right now are, they’re principles that are, that are in place for all of us, regardless of the age and sometimes the simpler presentation that Goally provides compared to maybe a consumer based tool like a Google Suite or something, which can do a simpler thing.

[00:08:08] Yeah, sometimes that’s simpler. Presentation is just easier for people.

[00:08:12] Rob Gorski: Well, and I, And yeah, because I think the first thing that we really tried, like we’re a Google House. Right. I Elliot, my young, my middle child is the stubborn kind of black sheep in the family right now. He, he has an Alexa, but, uh, we try to keep everything Google because it, it’s just what we do, but it’s, it is overly as simple as it is, it is not as straightforward.

[00:08:37] And, and again, it’s sort of still on his phone. And he, he just, it’s like, uh, when he’s focused on the phone, he can. Like it’s, if he’s playing gun and impact, it’s probably not how I pronounce it right. But he, he’s really big into that. And anything that happens on his phone, like he doesn’t, it just doesn’t register with him because he’s, he’s so focused on what he’s doing.

[00:09:02] And so there, there has to be something, an outside source of stimulus to, to get his attention away from that. And I, I really think that, and maybe some, some people would prefer to have it all in one device. I mean, for me, I would prefer everything to be on one thing because it’s just one less thing I can forget.

[00:09:23] You know what I mean? So, yeah, like I’d lose my head if it wasn’t attached. Sometimes I feel like , I do everything on my phone, but some people, you know, like Gavin need that, that separate that separate thing. And what, what was cool about Goally for us was that he had that option to do that. You know, he, he didn’t, it didn’t have to be, Only the tab, but it didn’t have to be only on his phone.

[00:09:47] And we found a sort of a, a hybrid situation where like, I’m not managing it, he’s managing it himself, which I thought was kind of cool because he’s, you know, sets up his own schedule and he changes things when they don’t work and whatever. And I just thought that’s kind of, uh, that’s kind of cool that yeah, that he’s, that he’s able to do that because it’s sort of empowering for him to.

[00:10:11] Set up everything he needs for himself, and if he needs help, I’ll help him. But, uh, what do you find, what do you find most parents, um, experience to be using Goally regardless of the age of the, of their kid?

[00:10:29] Tanna Neufeld: Yeah, so parents who, um, feel very successful with Goally usually, um, echo a lot of the sentiments that you are sharing here about some of the benefits of having a robot assistant over a parental assistant.

[00:10:43] Um, especially as children move into feeling as though they need to assert independence. And it does happen earlier than 22, right? Many kids that are in younger ages just don’t want their. Telling them that it’s time to do things, they would really prefer to have the autonomy, but they, they don’t quite have the executive functioning skills to do everything without support yet.

[00:11:06] Mm-hmm. , So I think a lot of parents describe how, um, their, their children remain quite positive about the fact that Goally is giving them the direction. Um, they really feel like they’re, it’s a reliable friend to be able to help remind them of the things that they need to do. Um, many families really love the fact that it’s customizable so that they can make it feel like it really belongs to the child, and the child can put a bit of their personality into it.

[00:11:32] Either by having images that are really relevant or choosing sounds that are more, um, you know, pleasurable to, to a child or more entertaining and engaging. Mm-hmm. . Um, and our families are really creative with the way that they use our product. We have, um, many of them using all of our routines, features for various purposes, uh, for some of the literal ones like.

[00:11:54] Let’s see the steps of what we need to do all the way through to using them for, um, social skill kind of, uh, orientation and storytelling, you know? Mm-hmm. , what’s gonna happen when we go to the doctor. Um, so our families are so creative in using our tool. We have a lot of stuff that comes out of the box ready for you to use as far as templates to get you going.

[00:12:14] But then it’s so versatile that, um, I think they appreciate being able to customize.

[00:12:19] Rob Gorski: I was gonna ask about that. One of the things that was, Well, I was gonna mention that. One of the things that was frustrating, Well, one of the things that is frustrating, I think, for parents, and it was for me when I’ve tried different software suites or, you know, apps to manage schedules or, you know, whatever, it’s, it’s so helpful to have a template to just kind of give you a frame of reference, even if it doesn’t work for you.

[00:12:45] It gives you, it gives you like an example of what other people have done and found successful, and then you can build off of that. So you’re not, you’re not just getting, um, you’re not just getting this blank screen where, where you have to figure everything out. It’s nice. It’s nice to have a place to start and then customize it to meet, you know, your child’s needs.

[00:13:07] Because not every kid’s gonna need the same thing. And like Gavin, just, like I said, checklists are a big thing for him. He likes having, The checklists. And we used to try and like print ’em out on paper and like put ’em up on his door, but it just sort of blended into the environment and he just forgot that they were there.

[00:13:24] And, and the Goally, you know, it’s a bright, colorful screen and he’s attracted to screens like any kid is. And it just, it just, it holds his attention or captures his attention better than, uh, you know, print out paper with the, you know, Steps for making sure that he did everything he has to do before he goes to bed or, um, you know, he, he’s been learning to cook on a stove.

[00:13:46] He does really, really well, but we have to, you know, make sure the gas is off when you’re done. Like, I mean, there’s, yeah, there’s, uh, just certain things and I, I just, I just want him to practice and I don’t foresee him needing it forever. I, it’s, it’s just sort of there to help him. Kind of build that muscle memory, I think

[00:14:05] Tanna Neufeld: Yes, absolutely.

[00:14:06] Like you want, you want success from the start, right? So if you lay out the steps and you don’t have to deal with the struggle of, Oh, I forgot the gas again, and then it becomes a whole negative learning experience. If when you need a mistake, let’s set you up for success, give you the steps you need, you get the automatic habit going, and then pretty soon you fade it out and you might not need that one.

[00:14:28] Rob Gorski: Yeah. So, or he transitions to where he’s in a place that he can just, you know, put things on, you know, Google to remind him or, you know, whatever, where he doesn’t, where he doesn’t need it to be as sort of, um, distinct as. Goally kind of makes it like, is a separate entity kind of thing. I dunno if that makes sense.

[00:14:50] Tanna Neufeld: Yeah, yeah. And that’s part of that teaching piece, right? It’s just, um, we’ve built into the product and we’ll continue to develop more of this in the product. This idea of meeting the child where they are and their development. Um, and so we have very, very supportive. Features, um, where you can really lay everything out in the video if you need to, to show the child how to do it.

[00:15:10] And then we’ve got checklists that are a little bit less supportive and then reminders that are even less supportive. And the hope is just let’s teach you some digital skills too, where you may be able to move on and use other products that are more available to you and your cell phone as you grow up.

[00:15:26] Um, and that is our aim, is we wanna empower individuals to, to move to that independent level using the tools they wanna use.

[00:15:34] Rob Gorski: Oh, okay. And, and I wanted to just touch on this real quick. Uh, and it’s not something that we utilize personally, but you can also use goal as a communication device, right? You can, We have a talker.

[00:15:46] I think that’s really important too.

[00:15:48] Tanna Neufeld: Yeah, so as I mentioned at the start of our chat, um, we’ve got a lot of little tools in Goally. It’s a pretty complex product as far as what it offers to families. And um, our biggest feature obviously is that routines feature we just talked about, and then we have a talker or an AEC device.

[00:16:03] It doesn’t fit the needs of all communicators, but it’s really great for those in the beginning stages of communication just getting started with using, um, pictures to communicate. Or maybe they’ve been using them for a while and they haven’t found much. So it’s built, Yeah, it’s built into your, your suite automatically if you’ve got the language and life skills.

[00:16:26] Rob Gorski: Very, very cool. Yeah. How, how can, how can people find you?

[00:16:30] Tanna Neufeld: The best way to get to know us is on get goey.com. Um, and it’s a weird spelling. It looks like it’s Go Alley, so I like to mention it. It’s, uh, get the word, get right and then yeah, G O A L L y.com. And what we have great resources on our website and, um, all the information we would need to learn about our.

[00:16:50] Schedule a demo with one of our team members, um, that can show you kind of how goal you might support the goals you have for your family.

[00:16:57] Rob Gorski: And is there support for parents who are trying to set it up? Absolutely. You know, maybe who need advice and guidance, you know, cause, because it can be frustrating, especially people aren’t like super tech savvy.

[00:17:08] Yeah. Um, and I think a lot of people would get frustrated and then maybe it wouldn’t be utiliz. Effectively, so. Totally, totally. So can you, you can help them get started?

[00:17:19] Tanna Neufeld: Yes. They get, uh, free coaching for 30 days. Um, Okay. And that is coaching around the tech issues that they may not feel comfortable with, uh, navigating.

[00:17:28] And also, um, honestly, one of the challenges that newer families to schedules in general have is. It’s kind of like you mentioned at the start. It’s like I have this blank slate. What do I do? Like I don’t even know how to think about my kid’s bedtime schedule. Like, what do we do? We just kind of do it automatically.

[00:17:45] So that idea of breaking down what you want to teach and therefore then being able to make Goally fit for that goal is also something we help with when you reach out to us for coaching.

[00:17:58] Rob Gorski: Very, very cool. There’s a lot of things out there and, and I try very hard to, to carefully vet the products and services that I, that I mentioned on a show or even that are allowed to sponsor the show because parents are desperate a lot of times.

[00:18:12] And there, there are people out there who prey on desperate parents. And so there’s a very select few , uh, companies that actually get through this process and, and get to. Uh, that, that I actually kind of partner with at some point and, and work with, because I’ve used the stuff myself, I’ve used it with my kids.

[00:18:32] I know it’s legit and I feel comfortable recommending it to my family and friends and all of you. So Goally is one of those things, and, uh, Do you have anything else that you wanted to add?

[00:18:45] Tanna Neufeld: Yeah, I, I really appreciate that you mentioned that because I feel the same. I mean, first and foremost, I’m a, I’m a provider.

[00:18:51] I’m a therapist, right? So my heart and my training has always been to support the needs of children and families. And so it was really important that I became a part of a company that prioritized that. And so, um, it is our mission to make sure that we are creating good products that are in line. Best practices, but also in line with, uh, you know, conscientious ethical business practices.

[00:19:14] Right? Um, and making sure that we’re listening to parents and listening to what they need and what they want, and trying to help narrow down this. Incredible universe of decisions that you have to make as a parent. And, um, I agree. I have used this product with my own children as well. Mm-hmm. and I, I wouldn’t support it if I didn’t have my hands in it, so I completely appreciate that.

[00:19:35] Rob Gorski: Um, Yeah, that’s okay. That’s okay. I, I appreciate that as well. And, and it’s, it’s tough to find, uh, things that actually are legitimate, you know, backed by science, things that have been around for a while, that. Um, you can, you can trust because money’s tight for a lot of people, and there are, there are so many things out there that, that say one thing and then they just don’t deliver on it.

[00:20:01] And I, I, I really just try to focus on the things that I know work so that. You have at least a place to start, right? You have an option. You’re aware of something, whether you opt to do it or not. You at least know that there’s something there if that’s a path you need to go down. So that’s, that’s sort of the goal of all this stuff.

[00:20:19] So, absolutely. Thank you. Thank you, uh, for taking the time to come on a show. I really appreciate it. Have a great week. Before it close things out, I just wanna take a minute and say thank you to Tana for taking the time to come on a show and for talking to us about Goally. You know, I, I was just having a conversation with someone recently and, and we were kind of debating the use of technology and in therapies and stuff like that.

[00:20:38] And, uh, great conversation by the way. Um, but they made a really good point. You know, ideally parents would have these skill set and supports in place to help their kids, uh, navigate some of these challenges and, and learn these skills, right? I mean, people were doing it long before we had technology and, and ideally we would be in that kind of situation where, where like I could take the time to teach my kids everything that they need to know and to support them in every possible way.

[00:21:07] But the reality is it just doesn’t work out that way. The practicality of that is, is not realistic. And uh, you know, maybe for some families it is, you know, for me it isn’t. And a lot of other families out there, it just isn’t. And so it’s important that we have and utilize technology that can help fill those gaps and, and, uh, cover those areas where we’re unable to, you know, meet all of those needs.

[00:21:33] And, you know, the cool thing about, uh, technology, especially when it’s used in the right circumstances and for the right reasons. That it, it helps promote independence, you know, I mean, kids are figuring this stuff out on their own. They’re, they’re, they’re growing. They’re able to, uh, you know, move from one thing to the next and it just, it’s a, it’s a positive thing, you know?

[00:21:54] Uh, and so I, I really appreciate, Tana, that you took the time to, to come on and talk to us about Goally. Uh, I’ve used it with my kids for years, especially, uh, Gavin. And it’s a really positive thing, you know, So, uh, they’re on the short list of companies and products that I absolutely recommend. Can find them at getgoally.com.

[00:22:13] That’s getgoally.com. You can use the code, “theautismdad” to save 10% on your order. So there’s that. Uh, and as always, you can find me at listen dot the autism dad.com where you can interact with this podcast. You can subscribe, you can leave feedback, you can submit show requests or topic ideas, or maybe you want to be a guest or a sponsor.

[00:22:33] Like you can, you can do all of that in one place at listen.theautismdad.com. Uh, make sure you guys hit the subscribe button on any one of your favorite podcasts, listening apps, because that’ll help you to stay up to date on all the latest episodes. And, uh, I hope you guys have a great week. So take care and uh, we’ll be in touch.

[00:22:50] See ya. Bye.

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