Michaela and Her Mom Find Freedom with Assistive Tech

Young woman with Down syndrome smiles while toasting her mom with a chocolate chip cookie she baked at her new bakery job.


Michaela and mom Becky used MonTECH to trial assistive tech to support Michaela at work and at home. The result? More independence - for both of them!

Michaela uses Hub to check her schedule. Screen shows a dentist appointment.

Michaela Turner moved to Montana last year. The 32-year-old has Down syndrome and was well supported in Massachusetts. Here? “It was a shocker,” Mom Becky remembers.

“Michaela is now on a waitlist, likely for seven years,” Becky elaborates. “What can she do during the day?”  The question has broader implications: will her mother be able to work? Will her parents get breaks from caregiving?

Michaela did qualify for employment support through Vocational Rehabilitation (VR). With VR, she landed a part-time job in a Helena bakery and temporary in-person support. Becky’s ability to resume her career as a nurse, or to leave the house for extended periods of time, depends entirely on the stability of Michaela’s job and whether she can be safely home alone in her off hours.

That’s where MonTECH and assistive technology come into play. Concerned about Michaela’s job security as her in-person supports fade out, Becky borrowed an iPad and the Work Autonomy app from MonTECH. The app supports independence on the job for people with developmental disabilities; features include visual routines, modeling videos, timers, and reminders.

Michaela has proven successful at work without the app, but once connected with MonTECH, Becky borrowed Google Nest Hub Max  to see if it could increase the amount of time Michaela can be home alone. For Becky’s peace of mind, a phone call is not enough; she needs eyes on Michaela and the environment.

“Through Nest I am able to see her, and talk to her,” Becky explains. “It allows us to have more freedom, without a doubt. And it gives her autonomy. She can be at home doing what she likes to do, without her parents hovering over her.”

Becky and Michaela also learned about June Oven at MonTECH. June has 12 cooking functions, an internal camera, and smart recipes. June gives Michaela more options to pursue her passion: cooking. The family has since received a grant to purchase a June Oven. “She’s going to get a lot better at cooking,” Becky says. “By herself in a safe way.”

Pursuing interests, gaining new skills, engaging in meaningful work – these are important components of a rich life. Michaela’s willingness to learn assistive technologies, practicing and utilizing them daily, is enriching the life of her whole family.

(Any Montanan can borrow assistive technologies from MonTECH, and learn about them for free. Free shipping and return shipping for most items.)

(If you know someone with a disability, or parenting a person with a disability, who is considering a move to Montana, direct them to “Moving to Montana” on the DPHHS website to learn about state resources. If they have questions, they can contact the MT Family to Family Health Information Center.)