Pick of the Week: NEW Workbook on Developing Receptive & Expressive Language Skills

Help young learners develop expressive and receptive language skills with this comprehensive workbook filled with 33 reproducible lessons! This week only, you can also take 15%* off your order of “Developing Receptive & Expressive Language Skills in Young Learners” by SLP Jean Gilliam DeGaetano. Just use our promo code JDGLANG during check-out online or over the phone with us.

Each lesson in this workbook is accompanied by an Instructor Worksheet page that covers 4 sections of questions involving answering “Yes” or “No,” responding verbally, or responding non-verbally by pointing to the correct answer. “Developing Receptive & Expressive Language Skills in Young Learners” is a great workbook that provides a variety of techniques, with adequate repetition within each to develop receptive and expressive language skills in both verbal and non-verbal children, mainstream ages 3–7.

Don’t forget to apply our promo code JDGLANG at check-out to save 15%* on your order of “Developing Receptive & Expressive Language Skills in Young Learners” this week!

*Offer is valid until 11:59pm EST on March 10th, 2015. Not compatible with any other offers. Be sure there are no spaces or dashes in your code at check out!

Upcoming New York Family Workshop & Support Group Events

Parent to Parent New York, Inc. will be hosting a free workshop and several family support groups throughout March that you won’t want to miss! Their free workshop “Special Education Mediation: A Collaborative Option for Resolving Disputes” aims to help parents and school districts become more effective partners, offering attendees an opportunity to look at conflict differently, learn about resources that enable people to communicate more effectively, and meet with representatives from organizations to assist parents and schools with communication issues.

Special Education Mediation: A Collaborative Option for Resolving Disputes
10:00am–12:00pm EST
Thursday, March 19th, 2015
Institute for Basic Research
Parent to Parent NY, Inc.
1050 Forest Hill Road
Staten Island, NY 10314

Those who wish to attend should RSVP by calling (718) 494-4872 or emailing SIPTP@aol.com.

They will also be hosting several support groups throughout the rest of the month. The Aspergers, Mothers, and Sibling Support Groups will also be held at the Institute for Basic Research. The Fathers Support Group will be held at the Page Plaza Diner in Tottenville, Staten Island. Please find the times and dates below for each support group:

Aspergers Support Group
10:00am–12:00pm EST
Wed, March 4th & March 18th, 2015

Mothers Support Group
10:00am–12:00pm EST
Wed, March 11th & March 25th, 2015

Fathers Support Group
6:30pm–9:00pm EST
Wed, March 11th, 2015

Siblings Support Group
6:30pm–8:00pm EST
Fri, March 6th & March 20th, 2015
RSVP is required, by calling (718) 494-4872.

For more information about these parent support groups, please call (718) 494-4872 or send an email to Parent to Parent New York at SIPTP@aol.com.

NEW Product Spotlight: Independence Day GPS-Enabled Clothing for Kids with Autism

This week, we’re thrilled to introduce you to a one-of-kind clothing line developed by autism mom Lauren Thierry. These unique shirts improve the quality of life, self-esteem, safety, and independent dressing skills of children and teens with special needs. Inspired by preppy American fashion brands, these stylish shirts come with a discrete GPS tracker embedded in the seam enabling you to locate your child at any time. Each pullover features stretch Lycra panels instead of buttons, zippers or laces, and no scratchy tags at the waist and neck, optimizing the shirt for comfort. Best of all, each shirt is double-faced so it can be worn backwards or inside-out and still be on the “right way”!

This week, we’re offering two of Independence Day’s stylish shirts at a 15% discount. We think these shirts offer quite a bit, helping individuals dress themselves appropriately while providing the comfort of knowing that you can locate your child if they should ever wander.

We’re also excited to introduce you to Independence Day founder and autism mom, Lauren Thierry. She’s written an excellent article just for us on her experiences with her son, Liam and how she came up with this ingenious idea. We hope you enjoy!

As Most Autism Moms Know, Revolutions are Relative
by Lauren Thierry

I have just been feted at lovely party in a lovely suburban hotel, where the emcee called my clothing line, Independence Day, “Revolutionary!”

As a former media person, I’m used to hyperbole. I know they have to have a hook, an angle. But I admit this made me blush and, well, made the journalist in me pine for “accuracy.” What I did was not revolutionary. It was simply something that had to be done. Like the moms in the 1960’s who safety pinned mittens to their kids coats before there were mitten clips. The moms did it because those “kittens” might lose their “mittens.” Revolutionary? No, just “mom sense.”
So when I figured out a way to “fashionably” GPS-dress Liam, my son with autism, it was pretty much “the mitten thing.” To the tenth power. No longer are moms talking about frozen fingers. They are talking about saving lives. Finding the one who wanders.

I took a mainstream rugby shirt and tweaked it just a bit, so that my son with autism could wear it easily, and softly folded a GPS into the fabric. That wasn’t a revolution. It was however, the start of a 14-piece clothing collection for those with disabilities. And it did start a “thought revolution.” That maybe those with cognitive impairments, or physical handicaps, could – and should – get dressed independently and look just like everyone else. And be safe and accounted for. So I cringe when I’m called a “designer.” I’m not even a fashionista.

ID Clothing Comparison

So why would someone like me start a “trendy/preppy” clothing line? Why would I carve out a niche in the preppy apparel space already dominated by Gap, JCrew, Abercrombie, Lacoste, Lilly, and Ralph?

Because that’s the stuff I wear, my typical 12-year-old twins wear. But my son with autism – and some 12 million other tweens/teens/young adults – cannot wear. Because tags, buttons, zippers – even collars – make those rugby shirts, cargo pants, and pretty pastel dresses impractical, uncomfortable, inaccessible and sensory-averse to those in that disabilities demographic.

ID Clothing Lauren MomBecause I’m an autism mom. That makes me a warrior mom. An activist mom. Someone who sees a lot of families, like mine, just trying to get through the day with a kid who can’t dress himself, except in baggy sweats and mono-color T-shirts. Even then, my Liam runs a 50% chance of getting those clothes on backwards. Or inside out. Or some other way that embarrasses his siblings and starts our day off under a cloud.

I’m not re-inventing the preppy apparel wheel here. I’ve just made some ingenious (patent pending) tweaks to these classic clothing lines, so that this population can have the opportunity of looking like any other kid going off to Greenwich High School, and the dignity of putting those clothes on independently – without Mom’s help for 30 minutes every morning.

I’m not just some suburban mom with a half-baked “really cool idea.” I’m a Columbia grad with a 20-year career behind me as a Financial TV news anchor. I’ve worked for small TV stations around the country as well as for Los Angeles and New York outfits from ABC/Disney to Time Warner. I’ve learned how to “think small” and “think big.”

ID Clothing Lauren CNNI quit my job as a CNN Financial news anchor to take care of my son and advocate for autism causes. I shot a documentary, “Autism Every Day,” which premiered at Sundance. Shooting that doc, I spent 24 hours in the homes of 8 “autism families.” I saw that, like my son, these kids learned by “rote” the fundamentals of dressing. But due to simple design obstacles like “fronts and backs,” there was a wide margin for error. That was my first “focus group” on the dressing issue, all down on film.

I shot footage of stressed-out, exhausted parents who’d given up trying to dress their special needs children fashionably, just putting their kids on school buses in pajamas.

I shot footage of siblings of these kids, embarrassed to be seen next to their minimally-dressed brother or sister. Their experiences reflected my own.

I’ve seen where my son Liam and millions of others with special needs are forced to adapt to a world that is simply not adapting to them, in some of the simplest of ways. Like getting dressed.

I’ll leave finding a cure for autism to the scientists. But I can put out a clothing line that’ll get these kids up and into clothes just as beautiful and classic as the major designers…and out the door in 3 minutes. On their own, independently. Mom won’t be here forever, you know.

Getting dressed – on trend, and on time – every morning. Now that’s Independence.


 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Lauren Thierry HeadshotLauren Thierry is the founder of Independence Day/ID, a technology and fashion convergence designed to address a myriad of safety and dressing issues for the special needs population. A graduate of Sarah Lawrence College and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, Thierry was a TV Anchor in local, national and business news for more than a decade before she left her job at CNN Financial News to care for her autistic son, Liam. She became a driving force behind numerous autism education initiatives. Among them, she created the fundraiser known as Autism Awareness Day at Shea – then at Citi Field – for which the New York Mets to devote one game a year to autism education. She brought in strategic partners Hess Oil, Prudential Elliman, Bear Stearns, Royal Bank of Scotland, BNY Mellon, and various hedge funds to the effort.

Thierry produced the documentary, “Autism Every Day,” described as “The shot heard ‘round the world for autism,” when it debuted at the Sundance Film Festival. Shooting the film, she saw that wandering/elopement were major issues for autism families. She also noted that the simple act of getting dressed for these families was a grueling obstacle course of “fronts and backs,” “insides and outs,” zippers, buttons and tags. That was Thierry’s first “focus group,” all down on film. Independence Day/ID Clothing was started to address those issues.

Independence Day/ID is an American Express Passion Project winner for 2013.

Pick of the Week: NEW! Photographic Matching Cards

One set of cards, so many different skills to work on! Photographic Matching Cards contains 260 cards – 130 unique cards with an identical match – that cover 12 basic categories: Actions, Clothes, Colors, Emotions, Everyday Objects, Farm Animals, Foods, Pets, Shapes, Toys, Transportation, and Wild Animals.

This week only, take 15% off* your set of Photographic Matching Cards by using our promo code MATCH15 at check-out!

DRC_057_Photographic_Matching_Cards

These cards are ideal for developing expressive and receptive language skills, as well as sorting and classifying skills. Students who are ready can use the cards to stimulate discussion and conversation. The cards portray children in a variety of settings, full of real life and childhood enchantment. Each of the 260 cards measures 5½” x 8½”.

Don’t forget to apply or mention promo code MATCH15 to save 15%* when you purchase your set of Photographic Matching Cards this week online or over the phone with us!

*Offer is valid until 11:59pm EST on March 3rd, 2015. Not compatible with any other offers. Be sure there are no spaces or dashes in your code at check out!

Tip of the Week: Use Noncontingent Reinforcement – A Powerful Addition to Your Intervention

Noncontingent reinforcement (NCR) is the presentation of reinforcement independent of behavior, and there are many studies out there that demonstrate it can have a significant impact on behavior.

Before we get to how you can use it with children with autism or other developmental disabilities, it’s important to recognize that noncontingent reinforcement happens all the time with all of us. A few common examples:

  • You’re walking alongside your child. Your child reaches up and grabs your hand. This is a behavior you like, but it did not occur because of any one behavior you exhibited, such as reaching for their hand or requesting their hand. They just did it spontaneously. This probably changes your behavior: you may smile, initiate a conversation, or give their hand a special squeeze.
  • It’s snack time at your preschool. You realize the bag of popcorn you’re giving for snack is almost empty, so you give each student a few extra kernels of popcorn. They did not “earn” it for good behavior, it was just a little extra reinforcement. This may change your students’ behavior: they may sit still a little longer as they eat the additional snack, say thank you, or exclaim, “More popcorn! Yay!”
  • A common example in preschool is placing a child on your lap during story time. They didn’t earn it, but it may change their behavior. For example, instead of calling out to get your attention, they may sit quietly for the duration of the story.
  • You’ve come home from a stressful day at work. You want to just sit down and veg in front of the TV for a few minutes, but discover that your husband has cooked dinner. This may change your behavior: you may sit down at the dining room table or give him a hug. Again, you didn’t exhibit a specific behavior that “earned” you dinner; it was presented independent of your behavior.

Noncontingent reinforcement can be a powerful addition to your interventions. But it looks a bit different when you’re using it as part of your intervention. You want to provide continuous access to the reinforcer maintaining the problem behavior so that the problem behavior becomes unnecessary. The preschooler sitting on the teacher’s lap is an excellent example, because the child has continuous access to the teacher’s attention. This can be faded over time, but can be an effective starting point for reducing problem behaviors when used in conjunction with other strategies.

Research has shown that noncontingent attention can decrease destructive behavior, noncontingent juice can decrease rumination, noncontingent access to preferred items can decrease inappropriate mealtime behavior, and noncontingent social interaction can decrease vocal stereotypy (Hanley, Piazza, & Fisher, 1997; Kliebert & Tiger, 2011; Gonzalez, Rubio, & Taylor, 2014; Enloe & Rapp, 2013). There is much more research out there that demonstrates that noncontingent reinforcement can impact behavior. Here are a few tips for using it:

  1. Make sure it matches the function. If your student is engaging in destructive behavior in order to escape a task, then providing noncontingent attention is unlikely to produce the behavior change you are expecting.
  2. Decide on a method for providing noncontingent reinforcement. Will you provide it continuously (like the preschooler sitting in the teacher’s lap) or provide it on an interval schedule (such as providing verbal attention every 2 minutes)?
  3. Take data! You need to know if the noncontingent reinforcement is actually decreasing the problem behavior or increasing the desired behavior. Define the behavior you want to change and then take data on its frequency, rate, or duration.
  4. Account for other students’ needs. If you are only using noncontingent reinforcement for one student, you need to be prepared to address the needs of other students. For example, if just one preschooler gets to sit in the teacher’s lap every day at story time, you may see an increase in problem behaviors from the other preschoolers in the class.
  5. Plan ahead! Our ultimate goal is that our learners be as independent as possible. Plan for how to fade your intervention over time.
  6. Take a look at the research. There are a few studies cited at the end of this article, but you may be able to find research simply by searching for “noncontingent” and the name of your problem behavior.

Noncontingent reinforcement is much easier to implement than many interventions that are available and can have a huge impact on your learner’s behaviors.

References
Enloe, K., & Rapp, J. (2013). Effects of noncontingent social interaction on immediate and subsequent engagement in vocal and motor stereotypy in children with autism. Behavior Modification , 38(3), 374-391.

Gonzalez, M., Rubio, E., & Taylor, T. (2014). Inappropriate mealtime behavior: The effects of noncontingent access to preferred tangibles on responding in functional analyses. Research in Developmental Disabilities , 35(12), 3655-3664.

Hanley, G. P., Piazza, C. C., & Fisher, W. W. (1997). Noncontingent presentation of attention and alternative stimuli in the treatment of attention-maintained destructive behavior. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis , 30(2), 229-237.

Kliebert, M. L., & Tiger, J. H. (2011). Direct and distal effects of noncontingent juice on rumination exhibitied by a child with autism. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis , 44(4), 955-959.


WRITTEN BY SAM BLANCO, MSED, BCBA

Sam is an ABA provider for students ages 3-12 in NYC. Working in education for ten years with students with Autism Spectrum Disorders and other developmental delays, Sam has developed strategies for achieving a multitude of academic, behavior, and social goals. Sam is currently pursuing her PhD in Applied Behavior Analysis at Endicott College.

Guest Article: “Speech-Language Pathology and ABA – Can’t We All Just Get Along?” by Danielle McCormick, MA, CCC-SLP

We’re excited to share with you an exclusive article “Speech Language Pathology and Applied Behavior Analysis: Can’t We All Just Get Along?” by co-founder of Bridge Kids of New York, Danielle McCormick, MA, CCC-SLP, with contributions by Ashley Stahl, MSEd. In this article, Danielle shares with us her quirky and humorous opinions on the importance of combining traditional speech-language pathology practices and those of Applied Behavior Analysis.

SLP-ABA

I have vivid memories of a professor in graduate school essentially condemning the field of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) as the most “robotic” and “unnatural” way to help a child learn communication skills. As a passionate and dedicated Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP), I took these words to heart and kept them with me as I continued my career. That was until my first job as a Clinical Fellow at an Early Intervention center—that (insert gasp!) followed the principles of ABA. This center was also filled with the most diverse, beautiful children I have ever known, many of whom were diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder—my passion. I had to take this job!

As if starting my first job in New York City was not daunting enough, here I was surrounded by the enemy—the big, bad ABA therapists! As a newbie who was still building confidence in my field, and having been trained to always respect other professionals (especially those who are above you in the pecking order), I took a backseat and opened my ears and eyes to the ABA that was happening all around me. The voice of my graduate professor was ringing still in my ears, so in my sessions, I made sure there was to be absolutely no ABA (at least I thought at the time!). If they wanted to “do ABA” in the classrooms, that was their business, but I wanted nothing to do with it!

Except—wait a minute—how did they teach that child to start pointing so quickly?

As time went on, I started to notice that some of my children were exhibiting extreme interfering behavior that I had not been trained to deal with. I was lost and did not know how to support these learners. Much to my relief, in came my super hero colleagues wearing ABA capes, telling me exactly what to do and why to do it.

 

Pick of the Week: NEW! Inferencing Card Sets

Help students improve their inferencing skills with these brand new inferencing cards we’ve just added to our catalog! This week, you can save 15%* on the Inferencing Quick Take Along! Mini Book or the WH Inference Question Cards by applying our promo code INFER15 at check-out!

The pocket-sized Inferencing Quick Take Along! Mini Book is perfect for the busy speech-language pathologist, special educator, teacher, or parent. Help students practice their inferencing skills by responding to 520 prompts in 13 different categories covering: Actions, Categories, Cloze Sentences, Context Clues, Descriptive Clues, Emotions, Locations, Naming Tools & Devices, Occupations & Jobs, Problems & Solutions, Pronoun Antecedents, and Time & Seasons.

This small 5″ x 3″ book is spiral-bound, so you can easily flip pages and keep it open to the page you’re working on. The sturdy, laminated pages are tear-resistant and easy-to-read. Includes an Answer Key.

WH Inference Question Cards is a robust set of five card decks ideal for helping students reach the next stage of Wh-development, once they have mastered the basics. Each deck contains 56 double-sided cards that provide clues and hints to answer various Wh- questions. Side A has a colorful picture and a Wh-question (“Why is Karla waving?”). This picture provides clues that the children must use to infer the correct answer. Side B has a second, related picture and the answer (“She is going on a trip”).

The durable tin comes with 5 decks for Who?, What?, When?, Where?, and Why? Questions, each on a long-lasting metal ring for convenient use and storage. Leave the cards on the color-coded rings as you teach, or easily remove them as needed. Each of the 56 cards in the five decks measures 2½” x 3½”.

Don’t forget – you can take 15% off* either or both of these inferencing card sets by using our promo code INFER15 at check-out this week!

*Offer is valid until 11:59pm EST on February 24th, 2015. Not compatible with any other offers. Be sure there are no spaces or dashes in your code at check out!

2015 Autism Speaks Baker Summer Camp Grant Application Now Open!

Summer camp can have a significant impact on individuals with autism. Applications for the Autism Speaks Baker Summer Camp Program are now being accepted! The program selects eligible camps in the United States to identify qualified campers and offer up to $5000 in scholarship funds for financially disadvantaged children with autism to attend a summer camp.

Autism Speaks recruits members for the Autism Speaks’ Baker Summer Camp Program Review Committee. The national committee is composed of families affected by autism, individuals with autism, and autism professionals. The Committee reviews eligible applications and selects camps to receive a Camp Scholarship Fund.

Visit their website to learn more about the program and its eligibility requirements. Click here for the scholarship fund application. For more information about the Baker Summer Camp Grant program, you can contact Elizabeth Fields, Family Services Grants Coordinator at elizabeth.fields@autismspeaks.org.

21st Annual Eden Princeton Lecture Series: March 19–20, 2015

Mark your calendars! This terrific lecture series by Eden Autism Services is happening again on March 19–20, 2015 at Princeton University. Guest lecturers include Connie Kasari, PhD, Helen Tager-Flusberg, PhD, Matthew Goodwin, PhD, Ron Suskind, and more.

Attend the 21st Annual Princeton Lecture Series to learn more about current technologies in autism research, strategies for effective early intervention programs, and more. For more information about the event, please email Joni Truch or call (609) 987-0099 ext. 4010.

You can also download a copy of the event brochure here (Registration Form included inside)!

Pick of the Week: NEW! Fun and Colorful Reinforcers

Reinforcers are a key element in any intervention program as they lay a foundation for motivating children to learn and acquire new skills and language. This week, we’re letting you take 15% off* on these great reinforcers we’ve just added to our catalog. Just apply our promo code REINFORCE at check out to redeem your savings on either or both of these reinforcers!

Pop Toobs – Set of 6
The fun never ends with these snapping, popping toobs! Each toob flexes back and forth, expanding from 8″ to 30″ and can be stretched, bent, and connected together. This is a great toy for working on joint-attention, reciprocity, response to sounds, and working on action words, such as “push,” “pull,” “pop,” and “open.” The toobs provide tactile stimulation while developing fine motor skills and auditory feedback. Most of all, they’re just plain fun to play with! Colors vary.

Ocean Wave Drum
Hold the ocean in the palm of your hand! This attractive Ocean Wave Drum carries a special textured wave-like rim. Gently tilt the drum and watch the colorful beads dance as you listen to the soft, gentle sound of soothing ocean waves. This drum also makes a great tool for practicing vocabulary (e.g. “shake,” “hit,” “up,” “down”), joint-attention skills, and using multiple objects together in play. This sight and sound experience will provide endless fascination and fun!

Don’t forget – you can take 15% off* your order of either or both of these brand new reinforcers by using our promo code REINFORCE when you check out online or over the phone this week!

*Offer is valid until 11:59pm EST on February 17th, 2015. Not compatible with any other offers. Be sure there are no spaces or dashes in your code at check out!