Pick of the Week: Save 30% on “A Work in Progress” Companion Booklets & DVDs!

Building on the popular guide and curriculum A Work In Progress, this companion series of booklets and DVDs synthesizes information on various teaching strategies with demonstrations of actual sessions with students on video. The Work in Progress Companion Series aims to blend a natural, child-friendly approach to teaching while remaining determinedly systematic. This series offers viewers the unique opportunity to see these approaches implemented in actual teaching environments.

This week, we’re offering the entire Set of 6 Work in Progress Companion Booklets & DVDs for only $99.00 (a $150 value)! Or get one (1) Companion Set for $24.95 only $17.50!  Just use our promo code AWIPSET at check-out to redeem these great savings. View our entire sale here.

AWIP_Companion_Booklets_and_DVDs

Parents and teachers will find this series to be a helpful companion and extension to A Work in Progress. All author proceeds from the Work in Progress Companion Series will go directly to the Autism Partnership Family Foundation which was developed to provide services to families with limited resources, fund research that will investigate new strategies and programs that truly make a difference in the lives of children and families, and disseminate information about evidence-based treatment and provide resources for training parents and professionals.

Volume 1: “Cool” versus “Not Cool” teaches students foundational as well as advanced social skills in the difference between behaviors that are socially appropriate (i.e. cool) and those that are inappropriate (i.e. not cool). In later stages, they go on to actually practice the appropriate form of the behavior and receive feedback on their efforts. Research confirms the clinical experience that “Cool” versus “Not Cool” is effective in teaching social skills and enabling students to monitor their own behavior.

Volume 2: Learning How to Learn teaches and demonstrates programs that researchers have found helpful in teaching students how to learn.

Volume 3: Teaching Interactions offers a conversation-style of teaching which adds the all important element of leading students to understand rationales for why they might want to change their behavior and learn new skills. This booklet and DVD teaches students how to develop understanding and insight that help form their internal motivation.

Volume 4: Token Economy provides step-by-step instructions on how to ensure there is a strong connection between the target behavior and the reward that follows. Token economies have a number of advantages and can be very flexible in adapting to the age of the student, the types of rewards used, and the skills and behavioral targets you are seeking to improve.

Volume 5: Developing Reinforcers shows parents and teachers how to be creative in developing new sources of reinforcement, which is especially useful for students who have limited interests.

Volume 6: Bullying & ASD – The Perfect Storm focuses on the tools needed to help children with autism combat bullying. Students with ASD are particularly at risk because of their behavior issues and their vulnerability. This volume provides practical suggestions that help prevent the devastation of bullying.

Buy one (1) volume for only $17.50* this week using promo code AWIPSET at check-out! View our entire sale here!

*Offer is valid for one-time use only through January 26, 2015. Promotion does not apply to past purchases. Be sure there are no spaces or dashes in your code AWIPSET at check-out!

 

“Night of Too Many Stars” Airs on Comedy Central, Mar. 8, 2015

This year’s “Night of Too Many Stars: America Comes Together for Autism Programs”, a big TV charity event for autism programs, hosted by Jon Stewart on Comedy Central, will air on Sunday, March 8, 2015. Be sure to tune in at 8:00pm ET/PT. Live phone banks manned by celebrities including Larry David, Martin Short, and Larry Willmore will also be available during the event. Funds raised by the live event will go directly to programs to help kids with autism and other developmental delays immediately.

Since 2006, “Night of Too Many Stars” has raised over $18 million to benefit autism programs around the nation. In 2012, “Night of Too Many Stars,” gave almost $4 million in grants to 50 programs in 20 states through the efforts of partner organization New York Collaborates for Autism.

We had the hilarious pleasure of attending the taping of the show last Saturday, February 28, 2015 at the Beacon Theatre in New York City. Members of the audience had the opportunity to interact with performers like John Oliver, Paul Rudd, Sarah Silverman, and Louis CK on stage to raise funds and awareness for autism. We’re incredibly grateful to Julie at Different Roads, who gave us the opportunity to attend such a memorable and charitable event!

For more information about the event and submitting donations to New York Collaborates for Autism, you can visit www.cc.com/toomanystars.

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

What Goes Together?Our very own app for matching and sorting What Goes Together? is now available for Android devices*. Find it available now in the Google Play Store, on Amazon, and in the Barnes & Noble Nook Store.

This interactive game develops language, discrimination, and reasoning skills in young learners. Clear, colorful images of everyday objects promote an understanding of functions and the relationships between items that children encounter on a daily basis. With built-in reinforcement and error correction, this game provides a solid foundation in building critical expressive and receptive language skills.

Screenshots captured from a 7-inch Samsung Galaxy Tablet.

In What Goes Together?, images are prompted with the question “What goes together?” Students then drag the prompted object to the correctly associated object among the 3 shown across the bottom of the screen. Correct responses receive visual and auditory reinforcement, 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 Goes Together? runs an Android 2.2 platforms and up. This app is also available in the Apple iTunes Store.

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.

Different Roads to Learning’s “Clean Up: Category Sorting” App is now available on Android!

Clean Up Cateogory Sorting AppWe’re extremely excited to announce that our very own sorting skills app Clean Up: Category Sorting is now available for Android devices*. Find it available now the Google Play Store, on Amazon, and in the Barnes & Noble Nook Store.

Clean Up: Category Sorting is an interactive game that develops language, reasoning, and sorting and classifying skills in young learners. Players of the game must “clean up” by putting 75 photographic images of toys, food, and clothing away in the correct shopping cart, refrigerator, or toy box. Each target is introduced by its label (“Where does the Apple go?”) in each round, where players see 15 unique images.

Screenshots captured from a 7-inch Samsung Galaxy Tablet.

Correct responses receive visual and auditory reinforcement 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. Clean Up: Category Sorting will help build foundational sorting skills for students just developing their sorting and classifying skills.

*Clean Up: Category Sorting runs an Android 2.2 platforms and up. This app is also available on the Apple iTunes Store

Tip of the Week: Use Technology to Promote Social Interactions Between You and Your Child

Last month I had the privilege to speak in New Jersey at the 2014 Statewide Conference for Fathers of Children with Special Needs. I love the opportunity to speak with parents, and this conference allowed for lots of small group discussion that centered on the individual needs of each of the families represented there.

My focus was on utilizing technology, and one of the fathers said, “You know, I see what you’re saying about how I can use the iPad to increase social interaction, but my son won’t do that with me. When I try to work with him on the iPad, he just wants to go to Temple Run. He won’t play with it the same way he does with his teachers.” This question highlights the differences between the home environment and other environments. This is a common problem that parents face, not because they’re doing anything wrong, but because they have a different relationship with the child than the teachers do.

Go back to when you were in middle school. Imagine that you’re at home with your parents, you’re in your room engaged in one of your favorite activities, and your mother comes in and says, “Let’s watch a movie about how the solar system was created.” It is highly unlikely that you are going to leap at that opportunity. At home, you like to have your own space and free time, you have lots of choices for what you can do, and there are options that are more motivating than watching that movie.

Now think of the exact same situation, except you’re in your middle school science classroom and the teacher says, “Let’s watch a movie about how the solar system was created.” You never get to watch movies in that science class, you usually have to take notes and worry about when the teacher might call on you to answer a difficult question. It is much more likely that you are going to want to watch a movie in this scenario. Compared to the options you usually have during science class, watching this movie is highly motivating.

The same thing happens at home when you try to introduce an educational or challenging activity, and for learners with special needs, an activity we think of as fun may in fact be highly challenging. It’s important to acknowledge that parents are working with the child in a different environment so that we can create strategies that are feasible for creating success in the home. There are some things you can do to make it a bit easier on yourself when introducing iPad or tablet activities.

My biggest tip is to offer choices. For example, instead of saying “Let’s play on the iPad,” say, “Do you want to play Animal Race on the iPad or go outside and jump on the trampoline together?” This way, you’re labeling a specific app instead of providing free access and you’re creating an opportunity for interaction no matter what the child chooses.

My second tip is to utilize built-in accessibility tools. Use Guided Access to lock the app. This way, the choice really is to just play that app or select the other option presented. If the child selects the other option, that’s fine! You can let them know when they have free time on the iPad and when they only have the option of playing with a particular app. You can also limit the amount of time they play quite easily by going to your “Clock” app on the iPad or iPhone. Look at the menu of ringtones, scroll down to the bottom and select “Stop Playing.” Set the time, and when time is up, whatever app your child is playing with will automatically close. If you have a passcode set for your phone, then the passcode has to be typed in before access to the app is available again.

Some learners also respond very well to visual cues to signal when they have free time on the iPad versus structured time. This can be accomplished by changing the color of the iPad cover (my students know that the “orange iPad” is for structured time) or by placing a reusable sticker on the edge of the screen.

My final tip is to consider motivation. There are apps out there that I think are great, but I have to start with what my particular learner will be interested in and build from there. Find apps that have a characteristic that should appeal to your learner, such as specific cartoon characters, animals, or music.

Using these simple tips can provide some success in using technology to promote social interaction between you and your child, or between your child and his/her siblings and peers. If you’ve used other strategies successfully, please share them with us on Facebook.

Different Roads iOS Apps Now Feature Family Sharing

Apple has recently introduced a new Family Sharing feature, which allows up to 6 family members to browse and access each other’s iTunes, iBooks, and App Store purchases, as well as share photos, calendars, and locations with each other. We’re excited to announce that all of our Different Roads apps in the iTunes App Store have also begun to support this feature. Family Sharing also includes parental controls, enabling parents to approve purchases and downloads initiated by children first.

Different Roads to Learning Apps

Clean Up Cateogory Sorting AppClean-Up: Category Sorting  This highly-rated interactive program develops language, reasoning, and sorting and classifying skills in young learners. Players must “clean up” by putting 75 photographic images of toys, food, and clothing away in the correct shopping cart, refrigerator, or toy box. Each target is introduced by its label (“Where does the Apple go?”) in each round where players see 15 unique images. Correct responses receive visual and auditory reinforcement while incorrect answers are corrected by a visual prompt of the correct answer flashing. This app builds foundational sorting skills for students just developing their sorting and classifying skills. Available on iPhone and iPad.

Whats that Sound App

What’s that Sound? Learning to Listen and Identify Sounds  This interactive and easy-to-grasp game develops auditory discrimination and processing skills in young learners. Players will improve their skills by matching objects and their associated sounds. Simple auditory processing skills lay the foundation for learning how to read, speak and spell.
Available on iPhone and iPad.

 

What Goes Together App

What Goes Together?  This interactive program develops language, discrimination, and reasoning skills in young learners. Clear, colorful images of everyday objects promote an understanding of functions and the relationships between items that children encounter on a daily basis. With built-in reinforcement and error correction, this game provides a solid foundation in building critical expressive and receptive language skills. Available on iPhone and iPad.

Tell Me About It App

Tell Me About It!  Featured as Editor’s Choice on Best Apps for Kids, this universal app is specifically designed for children with autism and other speech and language delays. Based on the Applied Behavioral Analysis approach, this program mimics an actual one-on-one instructional session with a therapist. The app provides 15 categories of language targets, such as body parts, household items, clothing and food, and six levels of difficulty, which progressively become more difficult, from labelling to shared feature, function, and category. This app also features an easy-to-read report card, which provides tracking data for each child and an option to e-mail the report card results. Available on iPhone and iPad.

To discover all of our current apps and what Family Sharing can do for your family, visit our iTunes App Store page.

Data Sheets Now Available for Hooray for Play!

I get pretty excited about pretend play and it isn’t unusual for me to engage colleagues at length in a conversation about how it can be incorporated into a learner’s home program using naturalistic behavioral methods. I can go on and on about all of the various play schemas that can be taught, my observations regarding which play schemas are of the greatest interest to the learner’s peer group at the moment, and regular items from around the house that can be incorporated as props.

The Hooray for Play! cards break down all of this information into a framework that is easy to reference and remember. Additionally, the simple illustrations provide visual stimuli to facilitate conversation about various schemas, to prime a student before play begins, or to help facilitate choice during pretend play. However, it isn’t long into our conversation when my colleagues ask, “What about the data?” Of course, this is where the conversation ends up because in an ABA program, all decisions are data-driven and based on observable and clearly defined target behaviors. However, with something as fluid as pretend play, it can sometimes feel a bit daunting to break the play down into smaller parts without scripting it completely.

The Hooray for Play! Data Sheets allow for the most salient elements of a play schema to be taught while still leaving room for variation and flexibility, which can be critical when generalizing to peers. Additionally, the targets are not predetermined so that they can be individualized for the learner. Below, you will find an example of the data sheet with some rows filled in to illustrate what it might look like. A blank version is also available in the set, so that it can be individualized for a specific learner.

HoorayForPlay_DataSheets_Example

There are a variety of techniques founded in the science of Applied Behavior Analysis that are effective in increasing and improving play skills. Research-based procedures can range from very structured to more naturalistic and should be chosen based on an approach best suited for the learner.

Some examples include:

  • Video Modeling
  • Play Scripts
  • Pivotal Response Training (PRT)
  • Peer Training

References:
Charlop-Christy, M. H., Le, L., & Freeman, K. A. (2000). A comparison of video modeling with in vivo modeling for teaching children with autism. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 30 (6), 537-552.

Goldstein, H. & Cisar, C.L. (1992). Promoting interaction during sociodramatic play: teaching scripts to typical preschoolers and classmates with disabilities. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 25, 265–80.

Koegel, L.K., Koegel, R.L., Harrower, J.K. & Carter, C.M. (1999). Pivotal response intervention. I: Overview of approach. Journal of the Association for Persons with Severe Handicaps, 25, 174-85.

Stahmer, A.C. (1999). Using pivotal response training to facilitate appropriate play in children with autistic spectrum disorders. Child Language Teaching and Therapy, 15, 29–40.

Pierce, K. & Schreibman, L. (1997). Using peer trainers to promote social behavior in autism: Are they effective at enhancing multiple social modalities? Focus on Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities, 12, 207–18.

Interview with Alex Jackman, Creator of “A Teen’s Guide to Autism”

Alex HeadshotOur consultant Sam Blanco recently had the opportunity to talk with Alex Jackman about her  video, A Teen’s Guide to Autism. Alex created this film when she was in eighth grade to educate high school students about autism. You can view the 15-minute film here. For those of you in Florida, the film is going to be showing this weekend at the Palm Beach International Film Festival in the short documentary category. There will be a Q&A afterwards. For more information, click here.

Here is Sam’s interview with Alex about her experience making the film, as well as her thoughts on teaching kids about people with special needs.

Q: What inspired you to make the film?

What inspired me mainly was how people in my school, how little they knew about autism. I realized that a lot of people, because they don’t know what makes people with special needs different, they don’t take the chance to get to know them. I’ve met really incredible people with special needs and I thought it was so unfortunate for both the people with special needs and everyone else who wasn’t getting to know them because they are missing out on this opportunity. I looked up stuff, but I hadn’t seen anything that was geared towards teens about it.

Q: What kind of sources did you use to find the statistics and information you presented?

That was definitely difficult because there are different statistics for the same [information], like for how many people have autism. There were conflicting sources, and with new research, it’s changing. (All information from the film clearly states “as of 2012.”) I used very respectable, well-known, large organizations that I, or groups, like medical groups, that have really researched to get statistics.

Q: If you could narrow it down to one thing, what did you learn from making this film?

That’s so hard.  I think I’ll have to say two.  For kids, I think that teens especially, are so willing to learn and are willing to take in this information they just haven’t been given the opportunity to.  And then, the other thing was just that adults and people are so much more supportive than I thought and it’s not an uphill battle for everything.  People really want to help.

Q: Bullying in schools is a big concern for parents and educators. Do you think providing information about what special needs could have an impact on bullying?

Yes.  Because – well, I do think there are resources, but it’s not taught in schools and it’s not really thrown in their faces, which I kind of tried to do – get teens to watch. Where it’s not something they have to search for, t’s right in front of them… I think that a large part of bullying is misconception and ignorance.  I don’t understand the bullying, of course, but I understand why people would be a little bit confused and would look at someone a little bit differently, if they don’t know why they’re doing something differently from them. If they have never learned, then I can’t blame anyone for being confused and not knowing how to respond.

Q: In the process of making the video, what was one of the more common misconceptions you found high school students had about autism.

Well, one thing I was so surprised by was how many people just didn’t know what it was.  I was really surprised when I thought about it, we never really learned about it in school…You know it’s a big part of my life now, and so I kind of assume that more people know about it, but there were just so many people who didn’t know.

Q: In the process of making the video, you talk with high school students who have autism. What type of questions did you ask them to be a part of the video?

I said, “What’s something cool about you”, “What’s something interesting about you”, “What do you want to be when you grow up”, “Do you have a favorite song.”  Kind of based on their responses, I just kind of started with one question and then I didn’t have anything planned.  I just kind of went off of their answers, and whatever they wanted to talk about, that’s what they talked about.  This was the part I really loved.  It was so much fun.

Q: For me it was very refreshing to see people interviewed who really had autism or Asperger’s and were representing themselves. Do you have any thoughts about depictions of autism in popular culture?

I think there are some good and some bad because, as the quote goes “If you know one person with autism, then you know one person with autism.”  I think that’s hard especially if you don’ t know anything else about it and you don’t have any interactions or knowledge on autism and special needs.  It can be a bit misleading when the media portrays someone who is specifically high-functioning. Then everyone thinks that’s what all people with autism are like or vice versa, if someone’s low-functioning or somewhere in the middle.

Q: How has your video been used?

I’m really excited because it’s been – even though I directed it towards teens – it’s really been shown to people of all ages. People have used it for anti-bullying, people have used it for training, people have used it for class and it’s just been used in so many different ways than I expected. It kind of took on little legs of its own.

Q: When you first started this, what would you have described as your goal with it?

To make a relatable guide for teens letting them know what autism is in a positive way – something that was relatable for teens, and that kind of was very interactive and engaging. I was just thinking locally.  If I could get it shown in like Roosevelt, which was my middle school at the time, if it could’ve been shown in some classes there, that would’ve been kind of what I was hoping.

Q: It sounds still very it sounds like your video is still doing that, but it’s done more. Has the goal changed?

I just want as many people as possible to watch it in hopes that they’ll learn from it.

Q: How do you think this video might be beneficial for parents?

I just speak from what parents have told me.  One parent of a child with autism has told me that their child watched it and said “Yeah, I do that, that’s why I do that.”  And another mom said that the video helped her child understand himself, because he was just kind of coming to terms with his special need and learning a little more about it.  It kind of showed him, helped him to know why he does that and that’s it okay and there’s a reason for it and he’s not just, he shouldn’t feel isolated because of that.

Q: Do you have ideas for further exploring the subject of Autism Awareness in the future?

I’m looking at ways to kind of direct better resources on available information and events because… there are so many amazing events and there are so many people who want to go to these amazing events, but they just don’t know about it.  And I’m also doing something at my school probably starting next year, but I’m kind of getting it organized this year that would be like a peer system – some sort of club after school where kids who are in school who are neurotypical and kids who have special needs get together.

Q: Can you just tell us about the film festival? It’s showing April 6th.

It’s the Palm Beach International Film Festival and it’s going to be in the short documentary category shown with some other shorts – some other short films.  And there is a Q&A afterwards. (The film is showing on April 6th at 12:00. For more information, click here.)

Q: Do you think you’ll work with people with special needs as an adult?

When someone asks me what I want to be, I, you know, if I’m not working and interacting with people with special needs as my job, I’m 100% doing it on the side. It’s definitely going to be a part of my life.

You can also follow the film on Facebook.