Come EAT, DRINK, and WIN as we launch the new ABA for the Common Core Kit!

CelebrateWormYou’re invited to our book release party
for the ABA Curriculum for the Common Core Kit for Kindergarten!

Join us on November 12 in NYC to meet author Sam Blanco, MSEd, BCBA and enjoy an evening with friends and colleagues. Cocktails and hors d’oeuvres will be served along with special giveaways. And one lucky attendee will win a FREE kit!


Sam Blanco, BCBA, MSEd (

We hope you’ll join us in launching this innovative and exciting new curriculum kit that presents ABA programs and targets for each of the Kindergarten Common Core State Standards.

Teachers, educators, consultants, behavioral therapists, and SLPs will love learning more about this groundbreaking curriculum kit. If you have a friend or colleague who is a teacher or behavioral consultant who might be interested in attending this event, please feel free to forward this invitation. All are welcome!

The event will be held in the Union Square neighborhood of New York City
Wednesday, November 12, 2014
6:30-8:30 pm

Space is limited so please RSVP as soon as possible to
A formal invitation with address details will be sent upon RSVP.

ABA Curriculum for the Common Core Kit - KindergartenIn order to present you with a great party, we need to know a few details so we can plan accordingly.

Please RSVP with the following information to


Organization or School:

Are you a teacher, therapist, consultant?

How old are your students?

Discipline (ABA, SLP, OT, etc.):

New Yorkers: Are you available for an app-testing play date with Tiggly this Wednesday?

The folks at Tiggly are hosting an app-testing playdate for New York families with children aged 3 to 6 years from 10:00am–12:00pm this Wednesday, July 2nd, 2014. The play date will allow families to check out the new learning games and toys in development by Tiggly. In return, families will receive goodie bags and a chance to enroll in their Playdate Loyalty Program.

Space is limited, so please RSVP to attend the Playdate this Wednesday. Send an email to to register and get more information on location and directions.

Tiggly Shapes combines the essential educational benefits of physical play with the learning potential and fun of the iPad. This simple set of four geometric shapes interacts with three free apps to create an ideal learning environment for children. 

Tiggly Shapes melds the best of what the digital world has to offer with the developmental importance of manipulative play in toddlers and preschoolers. Seventy years of academic research has demonstrated that manipulating physical objects is essential to early childhood development. Tiggly enables parents to bring this critical component of early learning to the “digital sandbox” today’s kids inhabit. The product consists of a simple triangle, circle, square, and star that become interactive when used with Tiggly Apps to create a robust learning experience.

Using iPad to Learn and Communicate Workshop at NY Apple Store

Use of the iPad with students with autism is so prevalent, we thought those of you in New York City might want to know about this upcoming workshop at the Soho Apple Store on Using the iPad to Learn and Communicate on February 27, 2014. It’s for the early birds out there from 6:30 a.m. – 8:00 a.m.

Part discussion and part demonstration, this event will show you tools and software to enhance the communication experience. The panel includes Steve Blaustein, PhD and CCC-SLP of Proloquo2go; Jonathan Izak, founder of AutisMate; Kim Mack Rosenberg, president of NAA NY; and Ken Siri, author and board member of NAA NY. Moderated by Dara Berger, filmmaker and board member of NAA NY.

You can reserve a place at this free workshop by visiting

Music for Autism: A Guest Post by Nancy Amigron

Music for Autism

Music for Autism is a 501(c)3 organization dedicated to enhancing quality of life and raising public awareness through autism-friendly, interactive concerts developed specifically for individuals with autism and their families.

The concerts, held in the United States and the United Kingdom, feature professional musicians, including Tony Award winners, Grammy-nominated classical artists, and Pulitzer Prize winners.

To ensure equal access for all, every Music for Autism concert is fully subsidized. Families note that the concerts help fill a major psychosocial void, enabling them to enjoy enriching activities that are inclusive and to experience the joy and power of music as a family.

Each concert consists of “Concert time”, in which guest artists perform their favorite pieces for audiences who are encouraged to express their reactions to the music howsoever they choose; “Conducting time” in which audiences are encouraged to literally “conduct” the music themselves; and “Percussion time” during which instruments and small percussion instruments are distributed to allow the audience their own experience creating music!

Before each concert, we provide each family a social story to help prepare their friend or loved one for the fun that is to come, and to ensure that everyone has the best time possible! Our concerts take place in the five boroughs of New York, in Washington, DC, in Houston and in LA. The next upcoming concert we are holding will be on September 28 at the McCarton School (331 West 25th St, NYC) and will feature John Arthur Greene of Broadway’s smash hit, Matilda!

Further information on Music for Autism can be found at

Upcoming concert information can be found at

For questions of any sort, please contact Nancy at

We look forward to seeing you at a concert soon!

The Music for Autism Team


Best Kept Secret – An Award-winning Documentary About Students with Autism Transitioning Out of School

We excited to let you know about Best Kept Secret, a new award-winning documentary about special education students, opening in NYC September 5-12. Directed by Samantha Buck, the film follows Janet Mino, a spirited and dedicated teacher in Newark, NJ as she struggles to prepare her students with autism to transition from safe and protective environment of school to the daunting and sometimes harsh realities of independent adulthood. If you’re in NY, we hope you will attend. To learn more about their outreach campaign, visit

At JFK High School, located in the midst of a run-down area in Newark, New Jersey’s largest city, administrators answer the phone by saying, “You’ve reached John F. Kennedy High School, Newark’s Best Kept Secret.” And indeed, it is. JFK is a school for all types of students with special education needs, ranging from those on the autism spectrum to those with multiple disabilities. Janet Mino has taught her class of six young autistic men for 4 years. They must graduate from JFK in the spring of 2012. The clock is ticking to find them a place in the adult world – a job or rare placement in a recreational center – so they do not end up where their predecessors have, sitting at home, institutionalized, or on the streets.

Best Kept Secret is playing at the following locations in New York:

UPTOWN: At the New MIST Harlem Theater
46 W 116th St  New York, NY 10026
Premiere 9/5 7pm and Q&A with filmmakers
Screenings 9/7 4pm & 6pm with panel discussions
Facebook Event Page

DOWNTOWN: At the IFC Center
323 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10014
Playing 9/6-9/12

Volunteer for Autism-friendly performances of The Lion King and The Nutcracker in Pittsburgh

The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust and Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, with support from ABOARD’s Autism Connection of PA, is bringing autism-friendly performances of The Lion King and The Nutcracker to Pittsburgh.

These presentations will be sensory-friendly performances that allow families with members on the Autism spectrum to experience a regular Broadway production with several alterations that meet the needs of the audience. Pittsburgh will be the third city to offer this type of program.

The Lion King performance is on Saturday, September 21, 2013 at 2:00 PM
The Nutcracker is on Friday, December 27, 2013 at 2:00 PM

Autism Connection is currently seeking professionals who work in the field, to volunteer for both of these performances. They will be needing assistance on numerous tasks, including guidance from the parking garage to the theater, quiet room and activity room aides, and in-theater support.

Interested professionals and individuals with experience in the field should fill out their Volunteer Questionnaire. Accepted volunteers will be contacted to attend an orientation session.

For more information about volunteering, please contact ABOARD’s Autism Connection of PA at, or call (800) 827-9385.

2013 GRASP Benefit: “A Time for Change”

We were delighted to attend the 2013 Global Regional Asperger’s Syndrome Partnership (GRASP) Benefit last Tuesday, May 14, 2013 at the Downtown Community Television Center in New York to congratulate founder and former executive director Michael John Carley for his ten years of cultivating GRASP into the influential network of support groups it is today. Since its launch in 2003, GRASP has become a nation-wide organization that provides community outreach, support groups, advocacy, and education to adolescents and adults on the autism spectrum. The 2013 Benefit: “A Time for Change” also presented GRASP’s Friend and Benefactor Award, Distinguished Spectrumite Medal, and Divine Neurotypical Award to three prominent individuals for the work that they have done in the autism and mental health communities.

GRASP2013Benefit_Photo1 This year, GRASP awarded author Andrew Solomon the Friend and Benefactor Award for his book “Far From the Tree,” which describes the travails of families impacted by numerous diagnoses of deafness, dwarfism, Down syndrome, autism, schizophrenia, and more. His book “Far From the Tree” is considered one of the greatest tributes GRASP now has to pluralism itself. A native New Yorker, Andrew studied at Yale and is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in psychology at the University of Cambridge. He has also written several other novels, including “The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression” and “A Stone Boat,” as well as pieces for the New York Times Magazine and The New Yorker.

The Distinguished Spectrumite Medal was awarded to Bob Hedin, who has contributed to GRASP’s national status by forming and leading the first GRASP network outside the tri-state area. As an individual with Asperger’s Syndrome (AS), Bob recognized the need for support groups for adults with AS and launched a membership drive in 2004 for adults with AS in Philadelphia. Since then, his group has grown to over 250 members and boasts a lending library of over 125 books on autism.


The Divine Neurotypical Award was awarded to scholar and researcher Dr. Barry Prizant, who has been a longtime friend to GRASP. Dr. Prizant has had forty years of experience as a clinical scholar, researcher, and program consultant to children and adults with autism and related developmental disabilities. His most recent work involved developing the SCERTS® Model for children who have or are at-risk for social-communicative difficulties, and their families. Barry also co-facilitates an annual weekend retreat for parents of autistic children each year, and has organized the ASD Symposium for parents, educators, SLPs, OTs, and therapists to address the importance of understanding interests, strengths, and talents of people with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

We want to congratulate Michael John Carley on the incredible work he has done with GRASP and as a spectacular human being. We know he will continue to do amazing things.

For more information about the history and mission of GRASP, visit their website at

Upcoming Autism Partnership Presentations at ABAI

If anyone is attending the upcoming ABAI Conference out in Seattle, here are some highlights of presentations being given by Autism Partnership that you won’t want to miss, including one that presents data on the cool versus not cool strategy.

Workshop 1

Title: Teaching Social Skills That Change Lives: Developing Meaningful Relationships for People Diagnosed with Autism

Authors: Mitch Taubman, Ron Leaf, John McEachin, Justin B. Leaf

Date: 5/25/2012 8:00AM to 3:00 PM

Description: Children with autism and other autism spectrum disorders (ASD) typically have qualitative impairments in social interaction. Such impairments can range from a child’s inability to develop appropriate peer relationships to a lack of enjoyment and interest in others, which can lead to a lower quality of life. Therefore, clinicians must teach social skills to children and adolescents diagnosed with ASD; however, it may be difficult for clinicians to find appropriate social curricula and effective ways to teach children with ASD social skills. The presenters will discuss the importance of teaching social skills; why social skills may be overlooked as part of a
comprehensive curriculum; ways to select a comprehensive curriculum; what this comprehensive curriculum consists of; two teaching procedures (i.e., teaching interactions and cool versus not cool) that have been found to be effective in teaching social skills; the research behind these procedures; and ways clinicians can implement the intervention in the home, school, and community. The procedures and curriculum that will be discussed will mainly focus on high functioning children and adolescents diagnosed with ASD but can be applied to children and adolescents of different cognitive functioning levels or diagnoses.

Workshop 2

Title: Teaching “Learning to Learn” Skills to Children Diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder

Authors: Ron Leaf, Mitch Taubman, John McEachin, Justin B. Leaf

Date: 5/26/2012 8:00 to 12:00

Description: Teachers and parents are often eager to teach children language and social and academic skills. Clearly, these are important
objectives that are essential for children’s well-being. It is generally recognized that in order for children to be successful in learning these
skills, their disruptive behaviors must not interfere in the learning processes. Therefore, behaviors such as aggression, non-compliance, and self-stimulation must be targeted prior to teaching more formal skills. However, there is another critical prerequisite skill that is essential in order to maximize learning success. Acquiring “learning to learn” skills is absolutely pivotal in a child’s success. It is really teaching children the process of learning. It is the foundation, perhaps the pivotal skill necessary for them to acquire all other skills. Often when a child is struggling in learning beginning or even advanced skills, it is because the child is deficient in this area. Learning to learn skills include attending, waiting, and changing one’s behavior based upon feedback. This workshop will discuss the importance of learning to learn skills, how to set up an appropriate curriculum, and the research behind the importance of learning to learn skills.


Symposium 1: The Conditioning and Implementation of Reinforcement and Reinforcement Systems for Children with Autism

Date: 5/29/12 9:00-10:20

Paper 1 Title: Conditioning the Preference of Stimuli for Three High Functioning Children on the Autism Spectrum

Paper 1 Authors: MISTY OPPENHEIM-LEAF, Justin B. Leaf, Ronald B. Leaf, James A. Sherman, Jan B. Sheldon, John James McEachin, Mitchell T. Taubman

Abstract: Children with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) may play with limited objects or toys. This presents challenges for teachers trying to identify reinforcers to use in teaching new skills. The goal of the present study was to switch children’s preferences from highly preferred toys to toys that were originally less preferred using an observational conditioning procedure. In this procedure, an adult known to the child played with toys that were less preferred by the child in novel and presumably interesting ways while the child watched. After the observation period, each child switched his preference to the toy with which the adult had played. Maintenance of
preference of the changed preference was idiosyncratic to each child. The results of the current study suggest teachers may be able to influence the level of preference that children with ASD show for potential reinforcers and expand the range of items that students will sample.


Paper 2 Title: Conditioning the Preference of Stimuli for Five Children on the Autism Spectrum: A Replication Study

Paper 2 Authors: ALYNE KASSARDJIAN, Justin B. Leaf, Courtney Muehlebach, Mitchell T. Taubman, Ronald B. Leaf, John James McEachin

Abstract: Children with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) may play with limited objects or toys. This presents challenges for teachers
trying to identify reinforcers to use in teaching new skills. Previous research has demonstrated that an observational conditioning procedure has been effective in switching the preference for3 “high functioning” children diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder. Although, this research showed that preference can be conditioned the procedures were only implemented to “high functioning” children and thus it is not known what the effects would be for children who are more severely impacted. The goal of the present study was to extend the previous research on conditioning preference by implementing and observational conditioning procedure to children who were more severely impacted and diagnosed with autism. The results of the current study suggest teachers may be able to influence the level of preference that children with ASD however it may be more difficult than children who are considered “high functioning.”


Paper 3 Title: Using Differential Reinforcement of Other Behaviours to Reduce Elopement in a Child with Autism

Paper 3 Authors: RESHANI I. SATHARASINGHE, Toby Mountjoy, John James McEachin, Ronald B. Leaf, Mitchell T. Taubman, Eric Rudrud

Abstract: Differential reinforcement of other behaviours (DRO) was the intervention procedure used in this study to reduce the
occurrence of elopement in a child with autism who eloped almost daily. DRO intervals began at 1 minute and the largest interval being 30 minutes. DRO segments were also run intermittently instead of continuously. Edible reinforcement was used with social reinforcement in the form of praise being added at larger intervals. The results showed that the DRO intervention was highly successful at reducing the occurrence of eloping for intervals below 10 minutes but less successful at reducing the behaviour at larger intervals above
10 minutes. By the end of the intervention, zero occurrence of eloping had been achieved for 15 consecutive sessions at a DRO interval of 30 minutes.


Symposium 2: Examining Variations of Discrete Trial Teaching for Children Diagnosed With an Autism Spectrum Disorder

Date: 5/29/12 10:30 to 11:50

Chair: Mitchell T. Taubman (Autism Partnership)

Paper 1 Title: Teaching Social Skills to Children with Autism Using the Cool versus Not Cool Procedure

Paper 1 Authors:  KATHLEEN H. TSUJI, Justin B. Leaf, Brandy Griggs, Mitchell T. Taubman, John James McEachin, Ronald B. Leaf, Andrew Edwards, Misty Oppenheim-Leaf

Abstract: This study evaluated the effects of a variation on discrete trial teaching known as the cool versus not cool procedure for
teaching 3 children diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder. The cool versus not cool procedure is a social discrimination program used to increase children’s ability to display appropriate social behaviors. In this study, the cool versus not cool procedure consisted of the participants observing the researcher demonstrating a social behavior either appropriately or inappropriately, followed by the participants discriminating whether the researcher demonstration was “cool” (appropriate) or “not cool” (inappropriate). For some social skills the participants role-played the social behavior following the teacher demonstration. Results indicated that participants reached mastery criterion on 50% of targeted social skills with the teacher demonstration and on an additional 37.5% of targeted social skills
with teacher demonstrations plus role-plays. Only 1 participant on 1 social skill (12.5%) was unable to reach mastery criterion although performance increased from baseline. Implications of the findings, limitations, and future areas of research will also be discussed.


Paper 2 Title: Comparing Discrete Trial Teaching Implemented in a One-to-One Instructional Format to a Group Instructional Format

Paper 2 Authors: JUSTIN B. LEAF, Kathleen H. Tsuji, Amy Lentell, Misty Oppenheim-Leaf, Mitchell T. Taubman, John James McEachin, Ronald B. Leaf

Abstract: Discrete trial teaching is a systematic form of teachingthat is commonly implemented to children diagnosed with an autism
spectrum disorder. Discrete-trial teaching consists of three main components: (a) an instruction from the teacher, (b) a response by the learner, and (c) a consequence (e.g., positive reinforcement or corrective feedback) following the learner’s response. Researchers and clinicians have implemented discrete trial teaching in one-to-one instructional formats and group instructional formats to teach a wide variety of skills to children diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder. The purpose of this study was to compare discrete trial teaching implemented in a one-to-one format to discrete trial teaching implemented in a group instructional format in terms effectiveness, efficiency, observational learning, and maintenance. Six children diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder participated in the study and the researchers divided the 6 participants into2 smaller groups. The researchers taught each participant 6 targeted behaviors in the one-to-one teaching condition and 6 targeted behaviors in the group teaching condition. Results of the study showed that both instructional formats were equally effective and that there was mixed results in terms of efficiency and maintenance. Finally group instruction resulted in better observational learning. Implications will be discussed.


Symposium 3: An Evaluation of a Community ABA Based Program and Procedures Implemented Within
that Program

Date: 5/29/12 12:00-1:20

Chair: Sandra L. Harris (Douglass Developmental Disabilities Center, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey)

Discussant: Shahla S. Ala’i-Rosales (University of North Texas)


Paper 1 Title: A program description of a community-based intensive behavioral intervention program for individuals with autism

Paper 1 Authors: RONALD B. LEAF, Mitchell T. Taubman, John James McEachin, Justin B. Leaf, Kathleen H. Tsuji

Abstract: Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) impact all areas of a person’s life resulting in deficits in language, social behavior, and
intellectual abilities as well as the development of repetitive behaviors that can greatly restrict community involvement. Intensive behavioral intervention (IBI) has repeatedly been shown to be effective in improving functional skills and intellectual scores and minimizing problem behaviors in individuals diagnosed with ASD. In previous studies, some children who received behavioral
intervention became indistinguishable from their peers and were served in typical educational environments with no supplemental supports. However, the majority of the published studies on this intervention describe university-affiliated grant funded programs. This program description provides details about a private community-based agency that provides IBI for children and adolescents with ASD. Information about staff training, the therapies implemented, the population served, and instructional and programmatic content
is offered and a preliminary analysis is provided of the outcomes achieved for a small sub-sample of the clients served (i.e., 64 of 296). These findings suggest that increases in functional skills and intellectual scores were achieved for all clients and that many clients met similar criteria to those established in prior landmark studies.


Paper 2 Title: An Evaluation of a Rainbow Token System to Decrease Stereotypic Behaviors in Children with Autism

Paper 2 Authors: STEPHANIE BLOOMFIELD, Justin B. Leaf, Courtney Muehlebach, Mitchell T. Taubman, John James McEachin, Ronald B. Leaf

Abstract: Children and adolescents diagnosed with autism typically display stereotypic forms of behavior ranging from hand flapping to
inappropriate vocalizations.. Currently there are several procedures based on the principles of applied behavior analysis which have been found effective in reducing stereotypy. These procedures include differential reinforcement, blocking, and punishment. One procedure which has been clinically implemented to children with autism with no research is the implementation of a rainbow token system. A
rainbow token system includes delivering tokens in a systematic manner. As long as the learner does not display any stereotypy the teacher provides token in an arc fashion. If the learner does display stereotypy then the teacher does not deliver the tokens. We evaluated the rainbow token procedure for several children diagnosed with an autism spectrum. Results of the study and future implications will be discussed during the presentation.


Paper 3 Title: A comparison of different classes of reinforcement to increase receptive and expressive language

Paper 3 Authors: JOHN JAMES MCEACHIN, Justin B. Leaf, Stephanie Bloomfield, Mitchell T. Taubman, Ronald B. Leaf

Abstract: One of the basic principles of applied behavior analysis is that behavior change is largely due to that behavior being
positively reinforced. Positive reinforcement is defined as a stimulus given contingent on a certain behavior changes the likelihood of that particular behavior. Reinforcement has been used as part of discrete trial teaching to help children learn a variety of skills. Reinforcers have taken may forms which have included food, toys, social praise, tokens, and even having the learner engaging in self-stimulatory behaviors. Limited research has been conducted comparing the various classes of reinforcement on the rate of skill acquisition. In this study we compared four classes of reinforcement (i.e., food, praise, toys, and feedback) for teaching receptive and expressive skills to five children diagnosed with autism. Results of the study will be discussed. In addition to clinical implications, limitations, future areas of research, and how researchers can affect clinical practice.


Call for Conferences & Workshops

We strive to help our readers be informed about upcoming conferences, workshops, and trainings on ABA, Verbal Behavior and Speech-Language Therapy. If you know of an event that will help parents and educators of children with autism or other developmental delays, please let us know about it! No matter how big or how small. You can email info about your event to

We’re always happy to send catalogs or a door prize for your attendees so don’t hesitate to contact us. Help us help our parents and teachers educate and inspire!

We’ll let our readers know about your event on our Facebook and Twitter pages as well as on our site where we keep a running list of upcoming conferences at

Special Needs Talk Radio has debuted!

Coffee Klatch, a corporation dedicated to providing resources and educational programs for families with special needs children, has a new sister company called Special Needs Talk Radio which features interviews with leading experts, advocates and more in the field of Special Needs. Special Needs Talk Radio debuted on September 6 and will present six new shows hosted by twelve different moderators. This new network is aimed at providing parents with the most current news and information covering a wide range of special education topics.

The network will present six shows that will be broadcasted weekly and are currently scheduled to run through mid-October. They cover topics from Parenting Issues, Raising children with ASD, Special Education and the Law, Inclusion and more. The website also offers interactive features that allow users to be actively engaged in the content by suggesting topics, making comments, and asking questions that can be answered during the live shows.

To find the show schedule and to learn more about each program and upcoming guests, visit:

Special Needs Talk Radio