Pick of the Week: All Aboard the Language Train!

Endless possibilities make this “language train” a tool you’ll return to time and time again! Create-a-Game: All Aboard the Language Train creates a fun and creative way to enhance teaching language skills to young learners. The set includes a Velcro train and track that await your customized picture cards and words! This week only, you can save 15%* on our newly added Language Train by applying our promo code TRAIN15 at check-out!

With the Language Train, you can teach vocabulary, sequential concepts, spelling, reading, and more. You can even use it as a visual schedule. The set includes one 3-foot track and 8 train cars. Don’t forget to take 15% off* your order of Create-a-Game: All Aboard the Language Train by using promo code TRAIN15 at check-out!

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

Pick of the Week: “Getting Started” by James Partington, PhD, BCBA-D

The latest book from James Partington, PhD, BCBA-D, author of the ABLLS®-R and AFLS, Getting Started: Developing Critical Learning Skills is an accessible guide that teaches parents and educators how to develop critical skills for learning in children who have no, or very limited, language skills. Save 15%* this week only on your copy of Getting Started. Just use our promo code GETSTART at check-out to redeem these savings!

Written in non-technical language, Dr. Partington explains how to teach these children how to ask for items they want, imitate actions and vocalizations, attend to actions with objects, and to initiate social interactions.

Getting Started provides evidence-based Applied Behavior Analysis and Verbal Behavior methodology along with critical information on where to start and the procedure involved in teaching these critical learning skills that form an important basic foundation for a child’s overall development.

Step-by-step instructions allow a parent or teacher to implement training and track the child’s acquisition of these important skills. All of the strategies in this book are linked to the skills in the ABLLS®-R. In addition, it provides the reader with strategies to motivate the child to participate in those learning activities as well as identify appropriate goals. This book is printed in soft cover with 260 pages.

Don’t forget to apply our promo code GETSTART at check-out to take 15% off* your order of Getting Started: Developing Critical Learning Skills for Children on the Autism Spectrum.

*Offer is valid until 11:59pm EST on December 9th, 2014. Not compatible with any other offers. Be sure there are no spaces or dashes in your code at check out!

Simplifying the Science: Addressing Vocal Stereotypy or “Scripting”

Many parents and teachers struggle with addressing vocal stereotypy or “scripting” in children with autism. Since stereotypy is frequently automatically reinforcing, (meaning that the behavior is maintained by the sensation produced by the behavior) it is especially difficult to address. While this type of behavior does occur in typically developing children (think of a young child singing the same song repeatedly for several weeks or a toddler repeating a newly learned sound) there is concern that this behavior persists in children with autism and other developmental disabilities in such a manner that it interferes with learning.

In 2007, William H. Ahearn, Kathy M. Clark, Rebecca P.F. McDonald and Bo In Chung published a study in the Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis entitled Assessing and Treating Vocal Stereotypy in Children with Autism.” The study defined vocal stereotypy as “any instance of noncontextual or nonfunctional speech and included singing, babbling, repetitive grunts, squeals, and phrases unrelated to the present situation.” It focused on four learners (two boys and two girls) who had autism and were referred for the study because their vocal stereotypy interfered with their ability to learn. The children ranged in age from 3-11. Three of them used speech to communicate while one used PECS.

The study describes potential interventions from previous research before introducing its goal of interrupting the vocal response then redirecting. This is called RIRD – Response Interruption/Redirection. In RIRD, when the child made an inappropriate vocalization, the teacher blocked them by interrupting immediately, then redirecting them to another behavior. The redirection involved prompts for vocal behavior such as saying “Where do you live?” or “Say ‘red.’” When a child made an appropriate vocalization, it was always followed by a teacher comment.

RIRD produced substantially lower rates of stereotypy for all four of the children and an increase in appropriate vocalizations for three of the children. One thing that is striking about these results is that “sessions were 5 min in duration, and two to three sessions were conducted 3 days per week.” This is a degree of time commitment that is replicable in the home or school environments.

If your child or student is presenting with stereotypy that interferes with learning, it is valuable to look at this study, as well as similar studies by Cassella, Sidener, Sidener, & Progar (2011) and Athens, Vollmer, Sloman, & Pipkin (2008). Consult with a BCBA or ABA provider for assistance in implementing the intervention.

Different Roads to Learning’s “What’s That Sound?” App is Now Available on Android!

We’re thrilled to announce that our very own app for auditory discrimination What’s That Sound? Learning to Listen and Identify Sounds is now available for Android devices*. Find it available now in the Google Play Store, on Amazon, and in the Barnes & Noble Nook Store.

Simple auditory processing skills lay the foundation for learning how to read, speak, and spell. What’s That Sound? is an interactive game that helps develop auditory discrimination and processing skills in young learners. In this game, players will improve their skills by matching objects and their associated sounds.

Reinforcement with balloons shown above.

Screenshots captured from a 7-inch Samsung Galaxy Tablet.

In What’s That Sound?, images are prompted with a spoken question “What makes this sound?” and then a sound. Students then tap the image of the person, object, or animal correctly associated with the prompted noise. Correct responses receive visual and auditory reinforcement (see screenshot of balloons above), while incorrect answers are corrected by a visual prompt of the correct answer flashing. After all targets have been seen once, they are reintroduced in a new, randomized order. The app takes data for the percentage answered correctly across rounds as well as sessions in which the app is in use.

*What’s That Sound? runs an Android 2.2 platforms and up. This app is also available in the Apple iTunes Store.

Pick of the Week: Speaker’s Box – Expand expressive vocabulary & language

Ideal for auditory and visual learners, Speaker’s Box helps strengthen oral language skills in whole-class or small-group settings, as well as in one-on-one instruction. This week only, take 15% off* your order of Speaker’s Box by using promo code SPEAKER at checkout.

With Speaker’s Box, students reach into the box, choose a color-coded prompt card, and then start chatting. There are four color-coded categories included:

  • What’s Happening Here?/What Comes Next? has the students talk about what is going on in the picture or what might happen next.
  • Step by Step has students look at the picture and correlating question on the back to give detailed directions on how to do something.
  • Would You Rather? presents questions that students answer with a personal statement based on the first thing that comes to mind.
  • Things You Like Best also asks students questions about their preferences and to explain why.

This is a great teaching tool that fosters receptive and expressive language, peer interaction, perspective-taking, and more. The set includes eighty-six 2.5-inch square write & wipe-cards (14 are blank for customization) in a nifty storage box. This game is recommended for children ages 6 and up.

Don’t forget to use our promo code SPEAKER this week to save 15%* on your set of Speaker’s Box.

*Offer is valid until 11:59pm EST on November 11th, 2014. Not compatible with any other offers. Be sure there are no spaces or dashes in your code at check out!

Pick of the Week: Inference Card Decks – Learn to infer meanings through critical thinking and auditory comprehension

Oftentimes, people do not communicate a complete message; they assume their listeners are also interpreting important visual information. Help students learn how to determine the “true” meanings of messages and improve their critical thinking, auditory comprehension, and inferencing skills with our newly added inferencing card decks: Look, Listen & Infer and the Inferencing Big Deck. And this week only, take 15% off* your order of either or both of these inferencing decks, by using promo code INFER14 at check-out!

Look, Listen & Infer is a 56-card illustrated set that will teach students to infer the meaning of a message by both listening to a statement or question, and also looking at the picture for important visual cues. One side of each card shows a colorful illustration of the scene. The other side presents the scene and asks, “What should you do next?” followed by three possible answer choices, one of which is correct.









The Inferencing Big Deck features 100 large 5″ x 7″ photo cards that contain a short story along with with six follow-up questions to help children improve their ability to correctly inference. The color-coded topic areas include: Associations (These items belong to…); Identify the Setting (Where is this?); Part to Whole (What is it?); Predicting (What happens next?); and What Happened?

Don’t forget – you can save 15%* this week on your order of Look, Listen & Infer and/or the Inferencing Big Deck by using code INFER14 at check-out online or over the phone!

*Offer is valid until 11:59pm EDT on October 21st, 2014. Not compatible with any other offers. Be sure there are no spaces or dashes in your code at check out!

Pick of the Week: Prepositions StoryCards—Learn basic prepositions & sequencing through storytelling!

Learn and practice using basic prepositions with creative storytelling with story cards and finger-puppets! You can also save 15%* this week on Prepositions StoryCards by using our promo code PREPOS2 at checkout. This set of 48 beautifully illustrated cards is designed to develop children’s understanding of basic prepositions such as in, on, under, above, below, and around.

With only illustrations and no words, Prepositions StoryCards promotes expressive language in storytelling form, and each story is flexible to your student’s standards. An accompanying booklet includes suggested stories for each of the 4 sets of story cards, as well as approaches for building and reinforcing preliminary concepts, developing verbal comprehension, improving attention and listening skills, expanding expressive language and vocabulary, and sequencing.

Four felt finger-puppets depicting the main character in each story are also included as an interactive and playful tool for reinforcing preliminary concepts.

Don’t forget to take 15%* off your set of Prepositions StoryCards when you order it online or by phone with promo code PREPOS2 at checkout!


*Offer is valid until 11:59pm EDT on August 26th, 2014. Not compatible with any other offers. Be sure there are no spaces or dashes in your code at check out!

Pick of the Week: Following Auditory Directions—Improve Auditory Processing of Visual & Spatial Information

Improve auditory attention, processing, and memory of visual and spatial information with Following Auditory Directions by SLP Jean Gilliam DeGaetano, and save 15%* on it when you apply our promo code FAD15 at checkout!

With 33 different cartoon illustrations and accompanying instructor directions, this unit will help your students stay engaged and attentive, as they listen carefully and translate auditory directions onto their picture pages. Each instructor’s page also has directions so that parents may review lessons at home as needed. Example directions include: Circle the picture that shows Fido in front of the front door; Find the picture where Fido is in front of the dog house, and color Fido brown; and Put dots on the hippopotamus that has painted toenails and is wearing a bow.

Spatial concepts include: front, top, in, on, behind, next to, close to, long, short, most, different, none, almost, beginning, end, few, dirty, clean, inside, under, near, tall, medium, between, middle, over, center, closed and open.

Don’t forget! You can take 15% off* your order of Following Auditory Directions this week only when you mention or enter promo code FAD15 at checkout!

*Offer is valid until 11:59pm EDT on July 29, 2014. Not compatible with any other offers. Be sure there are no spaces or dashes in your code at check out!

Tip of the Week: Teaching Language—Focus on the Stage, Not the Age

Teaching language skills is one of the most frequent needs for children with autism, but also one of the most misunderstood skillsets amongst both parents and practitioners. The desire to hear your learner speak in full sentences can be overwhelming, making it especially difficult to take a step back and consider what it means to communicate and how communication skills develop in neurotypical children. Many times we get hung up on what a child should be capable of communicating at a certain age, rather than focusing on what they are capable of communicating at this stage of development.

Many practitioners and curricula utilize Brown’s Stages of Language Development.* Brown described the first five stages of language development in terms of the child’s “mean length of utterance” (or MLU) as well as the structure of their utterances.

From aacinstitute.org

Sometimes it is necessary to compare a child to his or her same-age peers in order to receive services or measure progress, but it can be detrimental to focus on what a child should be doing at a specific age instead of supporting them and reinforcing them for progress within their current stage.

Research has suggested that teaching beyond the child’s current stage results in errors, lack of comprehension, and difficulty with retention. Here are some common errors you may have witnessed:

  • The child learns the phrase “I want _____ please.” This phrase is fine for “I want juice, please” or “I want Brobee, please,” but it loses meaning when overgeneralized to “I want jump, please” or “I want play, please.” It’s better to allow your learner to acquire hundreds of 1-2 word mands (or requests) before expecting them to speak in simple noun+verb mands.
  • The child learns to imitate only when the word “say” is used. Then the child makes statements such as “say how are you today,” as a greeting or “say I’m sorry,” when they bump into someone accidentally. Here, the child clearly has some understanding of when the phrases should be used without understanding the meanings of the individual words within each phrase.
  • The child learns easily overgeneralized words such as “more.” This is useful at times, but the child can start using it for everything. Instead of saying “cookie” he’ll say “more.” Instead of saying “train,” he’ll say “more.” And he may say “more” when the desired item is not present, leaving the caregiver frustrated as he/she tries to guess what the child is requesting. Moreover, as language begins to develop, he may misuse it by saying things such as “more up, please.”
  • The child learns to say “Hello, how are you today?” upon seeing a person entering a room. A child comes into the classroom and the learner looks up, says “Hello, how are you today?” The child responds, “Great! Look at the cool sticker I got!” Your learner then doesn’t respond at all, or may say “fine,” as he has practiced conversations of greeting.

These are only a few of the common language errors you may see. While you may want your learner to speak in longer sentences, your goal should be to have them communicate effectively. With this goal in mind, it becomes essential to support them at their current stage, which means it’s essential to assess them and understand how to help them make progress.

This is why I always use the VB-MAPP to assess each child and make decisions about language instruction. I need to have a full understanding of how the learner is using language, and then move them through each stage in a clear progression. I may want the child to say “Hello, how are you today?” But when I teach them that, do they understand those individual words? Do they comprehend what today means as opposed to yesterday or tomorrow? Do they generalize the use of “how” to other questions?

As you make treatment decisions for your learner, think about their current stage and talk about how to support your child with both a Speech Language Pathologist and an ABA therapist.

*Brown, R. (1973). A first language: The early stages. London: George Allen & Unwin Ltd.


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.

Pick of the Week: “The Cow Says Moo” – 10 Tips to Teach Your Toddler to Talk

Teach your child to communicate with words and expand his or her language skills with the new early intervention guide The Cow Says Moo. And this week only, you can take 15% off* your purchase of The Cow Says Moo by entering in our promo code MOO15 at check out!

The Cow Says Moo is an early intervention guide that teaches parents easy-to-use, common-sense strategies for helping their children learn to communicate. The 10 tips and appendices filled with songs, checklists, and resources rely on the same methods that practitioners use when providing direct home-based speech therapy to toddlers and their families.

Tips focus on things like giving your child a reason to talk, using sign language, oral motor exercises, finding the right word, pairing movement with sound and more.

This simple guide delivers speech therapy activities that any parent can implement right away.

Save 15%* on your order of The Cow Says Moo this week by mentioning or entering in promo code MOO15 at checkout.

*Offer is valid until 11:59pm EDT on July 1, 2014. Not compatible with any other offer. Be sure there are no dashes or spaces in your code at check out!