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Advice needed locking down an XP machine for an Autistic child, this will be a real challenge.

Posted on 2006-07-17
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2013-12-04
I have an 8 year old autistic daughter (Zoe) who gets a great deal of pleasure and frustration from her XP machine.
My daughter's main use of her machine is to play her varied collection of music through windows media player.

The problem:
Like all autistic children, Zoe has a strong preference for routine and predictability. Zoe likes to start a song playing, click on 'Now Playing' and see the album cover shown in the now playing view. Now, as Zoe thinks it is amusing to change the names of her tracks and the author information, this mucks up the now playing view and she then gets very frustrated.

To truly appreciate the problem here, one needs to have at least a partial understanding of autism and the problems that go with this life long mental health condition. Zoe has a website which is www.aboutautism.org.uk which goes some way to explaining the problems we have.

What I need help with, is somehow looking at the following points:
* Suppress the endless MS error messages and warnings that windows generates. These have no meaning to Zoe and are a real pain. This is primarily with respect to any policy that may be implemented, for example, messages stating that Zoe does not have permission to change a track name would mean nothing to her and annoy her as well.
* In addition, windows likes to tell us that we are not using the latest version of media player - well we have version 9, Zoe has gotten her head around version 9 and we are not going to upgrade to the later more complicated versions, so stopping media player prompting for an upgrade would be great.
* Limiting functionality in media player - to prevent track renaming.
* Preventing tracks from being moved from one folder to another, without popup error messages when she tries to do this.
* Locking down the volume control - she always manages to get this really loud despite my preventing the volume icon from appearing and limiting volume in control panel.

Zoe is not very communicative and is most definitely not able to comprehend what is wrong with her machine or the fact that she has caused her problems herself, by fiddling in media player.

As I type this I am also wondering if there are other mp3 playing utilities which may be less advanced and thus easier to use. Another approach may be to either have a heavily locked down system or even a Linux build.

The objective here is to end up with a pc which Zoe can use to play her music on, which will perform the same function in the same way from one day to another. Zoe does not need internet access but she does rely on media player grabbing artist / track information when a CD is inserted.

This is a significant undertaking and I may be asking too much of this forum but if anyone has any insight into this problem their input would be very beneficial. If a local policy could be developed which could be used by other parents it would benefit many handicapped children indeed.

A final thought, Zoe does not need access to 90% of the system's functionality, which may actually make it easier to lock down. If we cannot resolve these problems we have been advised to remove the computer from her playroom as it causes more frustration than pleasure.

So, if anyone fancies a real challenge - please jump in, this will not be a 5 minute job but it will be interesting and make a real difference to a very frustrated little girl.

In terms of implementing a policy, I have a good understanding of XP, the MMC and permissions. I have weak knowldege on local security policies and group policies.

Question by:Martin Courtney
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LVL 48

Accepted Solution

Jay_Jay70 earned 2000 total points
ID: 17128175
this certainly cannot do everything you asked but i beleive it is a start for you


Author Comment

by:Martin Courtney
ID: 17128324
Thank you Jay Jay 70 - I didn't even know that existed - I really need to stay more in touch with windows developments.
I have installed the Hive Cleanup Service then the Shared Computer Toolkit.

It is a shame that the manual is not available to purchase outside of the USA but I will refer to the online manual.

This will take some time to go through so I will post again once I have gone through all of the steps needed.
LVL 48

Expert Comment

ID: 17128340
no problems, as i said, it won't do all but it will start you on the way at least :)
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LVL 38

Expert Comment

by:Rich Rumble
ID: 17135380
Try windows media classic: http://prdownloads.sourceforge.net/guliverkli/mpc2kxp6490.zip?download
This may help with error messages, this works on XP, not sure if it will suppress all error messages..

These may or may not apply to your child or situation, these seem more for disabled persons rather than autistic persons.

Placing the user account in a lower privliged group can also serve to limit access to certain controls and functions, but unless the suppression above is acceptable, it may cause more pop-up's. http://www.microsoft.com/athome/security/online/logoff_admin_account.mspx
I'll do some testing to see if a locked down account and the error suppression above can be added to.
LVL 13

Expert Comment

ID: 17138287

i know where you are talking about,
my jongest brother is autistic too

i suggest you take a look at mediamonkey,

it has a function to lock it down completely so it acts as a jukebox
a password can be set so you need the password to get out

it is also possible to develop plugins, so it should be possible to change the things you don't like


Author Comment

by:Martin Courtney
ID: 17171512
Thank you Jay Jay 70, Rich and Mark, these really useful contributions.
I will look into this during the coming week and split the points accordingly.

Your comments are really appreciated folks.

LVL 48

Expert Comment

ID: 17172259
tis no problem

Author Comment

by:Martin Courtney
ID: 17308473
OK I have allocated the points to Jay Jay70 as after careful evaluation this has been a complete solution to this problem.
Thanks to all who contributed. I am still working out a good build but this will resolve all of my problems.
LVL 48

Expert Comment

ID: 17308728
glad to have helped, cheers mate
LVL 13

Expert Comment

ID: 17309732

glad you found a good solution!

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