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!

 

Simplifying the Science: Choiceworks App – Increase Self-Monitoring and Autonomy in Students with ASD

Finding the appropriate educational setting for individuals with autism can be quite challenging. And in working to provide the least restrictive environment, sometimes students are placed in classrooms where they can do the work but requires additional supports. This makes teaching self-monitoring all the more important as we strive to help our students attain independence in all areas.

A recent study by Miller, Doughty, & Krockover (2015) used an iPad app as part of an intervention to increase self-monitoring for three students with moderate intellectual disabilities in their science class. The goal was to increase autonomy in problem-solving activities linked the science lesson for that day. The app they used was called Choiceworks, which the authors described as: “a daily routine board maker [that] contains prompting tools to assist users through daily tasks. Checklists, schedule boards, activity timers, and a communication board can be developed using this system” (p. 358).

Over the course of a two-week period, each student was provided with three training sessions for how to use the iPad based on a task analysis the authors had devised. Skills taught included swiping, changing the volume, and operating the Choiceworks app. Next, the authors introduced five steps of problem-solving and provided mini-lessons on each of the steps. The authors used stories that required problem-solving, then taught the students how to use the app to navigate through the five steps of problem solving. Finally, the intervention was introduced in the science classroom.

All three students in this study significantly increased their independence in problem-solving. Furthermore, the results were generalized to solving problems related to daily living and were maintained over time.

The results of this study are important for several reasons. First, it demonstrates one method for increasing independence in individuals with developmental disabilities. Second, this increase in independence provides opportunities for more natural peer interaction since the individual with the disability will not have an adult always standing next to them. Finally, using a tool such as an iPad mini (as these researchers did) or iPhone is beneficial because many people are walking around with such devices, allowing individuals with disabilities to use a device to promote independence without increasing the threat of social stigma. The authors clearly show that, when provided with proper instruction, students with developmental disabilities can use the iPad mini to become more independent with both academic and daily living skills.

REFERENCES

Miller, B., Doughty, T., & Krockover, G. (2015). Using science inquiry methods to promote self-determination and problem-solving skills for students with moderate intellectual disability. Education and Training in Autism and Developmental Disabilities, 50(3), 356-368.

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.

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.

Tip of the Week: Easy Modification for Promoting Functional iPad Use

The iPad is a highly motivating item for many kids. But many parents and teachers find it frustrating to teach kids with autism to use the iPad functionally. Here are three tips that can help you promote functional use.

  1. Lock Rotation – Some learners with autism like to watch the screen rotate as they move the iPad. This prevents them from using the iPad to complete tasks, create visual or audio products, or play games. There is a small switch on the side of the iPad that is factory preset to mute the volume. You can change the function of this switch to lock rotation, preventing your learner from fixating on rotating the screen.LockRotation_Image
  2. Guided Access – When providing access to the iPad, it’s a good idea to give your learner options of particular apps to engage with instead of providing free access to everything available on the device. For example, during a teaching session, I might say, “When it’s time for a break, do you want to play Match or Simon?” When it’s time for the break, I open the app the learner chose, then activate Guided Access, which makes it impossible for the learner to switch to other apps.GuidedAccess_Image
  3. Timed Play – Sometimes I want to limit the amount of time a learner spends on the iPad. When I am providing a student a break during a teaching session, frequently I limit the time to 23 minutes. Parents may allow their child to play on the iPad for 30 minutes. You can set the iPad to immediately shut off at the specified time. I like to use this function because it prevents the end of an preferred activity from being associated with me.TimedPlay_Image

**Unfortunately, the iPad is the only tablet with which I am familiar. If you use another tablet and have tips such as those above, please share them with us!


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.

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.

Just Added! Tiggly Counts – Learn math with fun, interactive apps

Tiggly Counts Feature

A playful world of math learning awaits in the all-new Tiggly Counts! From the award-winning makers of Tiggly Shapes, Tiggly Counts is a set of 5 counting toys that interact with 3 free iPad apps to connect children to a playful world of math learning. The apps and manipulatives work in tandem to develop a child’s number sense, counting skills, understanding of math operations, and more. The 3 free apps include Tiggly Chef, Tiggly Cardtoons, and Tiggly Addventure, and introduce children to a wonderful world of lovable characters that surprise and delight, as they learn essential early math abilities. Designed for children ages 3 and up.

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.

Pick of the Week: Robot Turtles – The Game for Little Programmers

We’re thrilled to announce the arrival of the highly-rated game Robot Turtles: The Little Game for Programmers to our store. Robot Turtles an innovative board game that teaches the fundamentals of computer programming to kids as young as 4 years old without a screen. That’s right – no screen, no keyboard, no special effects; just great design and an innovative concept! And this week only, we’re offering a 15% discount* on this great new game. Just enter TURTLES3 at checkout to redeem your savings on your set of Robot Turtles.

With its origin as the most backed board game in Kickstarter history, Robot Turtles sneakily teaches the fundamentals of programming, from coding to functions, while making silly turtle noises! This game takes seconds to learn, minutes to play, and provides endless learning opportunities. With 4 different levels of play, including basic game play, unlocking obstacles and lasers, unlocking a “write program,” and unlocking the function frog, Robot Turtles is a wonderful game for preschoolers to grow with.

Each set of Robot Turtles comes with:

  • 1 game board
  • 40 game tiles
  • 4 robot turtle tiles
  • 4 jewel tiles
  • 4 code card decks, with 45 cards each

As the best selling board game in all of Kickstarter history, Robot Turtles has been highly anticipated by game creators and consumers alike, and has received a considerable amount of mainstream press. In a recently published New York Times article, creator of the game Dan Shapiro explains his rationale behind creating the game. “Those [game] pieces are intended to represent the commands of a computer program.” Children are required to select cards to move their pieces around the board, pushing or destroying obstacles in their way. With the glowing reviews it has received on trending social media sites, Robot Turtles is sure to teach young learners the fundamentals of a necessary skill in modern technology in a fun and interactive way.

Don’t forget – this week only, take 15% off* your purchase of the brand-new Robot Turtles game by applying code TURTLES3 at checkout!

*Offer is valid through 11:59pm EDT on June 3, 2014. Not compatible with any other offer. Be sure there are no spaces or dashes in your code at checkout!

Know Your Apps when Working with Children with Autism

There are very different expectations for parents and teachers when using apps on a tablet or smartphone with your learner with autism. Parents have a lot more free range on what they allow their children to engage in. As a parent, there are moments when you will have breakfast cooking, the phone ringing, and a work meeting scheduled in twenty minutes. I completely understand why a parent hands a tablet to their child with autism and lets them watch YouTube.

Luca Sage/Getty Images

But, as a teacher, this is not acceptable, unless the child has been working hard, and YouTube is a strong reinforcer for them that will be used for a minute or two. But a teacher needs to be consistently pushing their learners towards independence and thinking about the function of the tasks they are presenting to their learners.

By the same token, a teacher should not be handing a tablet to a learner and trusting that an app is useful simply because it’s labelled as educational. Teachers don’t give a book to a learner without having read it themselves. Teachers don’t provide materials for a science experiment without having tested it out and fully read all directions. But teachers frequently hand a tablet to a learner without having a full understanding of how to use the tablet or how to use all aspects of the apps. This is a problem if the learner has a question the teacher can’t answer, and it’s a problem if the teacher hasn’t carefully chosen apps that meet the needs of his or her individual learner.

To avoid these problems, it is essential to take the time to fully explore an app that you have chosen. Below are questions you can ask yourself while going through the app to decide if it is appropriate for your particular learner.

Questions to ask when you’re exploring an app:

  • Does the game or activity get more or less difficult based on the user’s performance?
  • If the app is billed as an “interactive story,” in what ways it is interactive?
  • What specific skills does the app practice?
  • Is the user easily able to navigate the app? Is there a back button or clear organization about how to move from screen to screen?
  • Are you able to have more than one user for the app? Some apps only allow one user, which is not useful for a classroom environment.
  • What kind of noises does the app use? Some apps have sounds for incorrect answers that your learner may find highly reinforcing, which is counterproductive to say the least.
  • How long is the playing time for one round? Or how long is the story?
  • If the app is a game, is there a natural end to the game or would you have to stop it mid-game?
  • Does the app keep any data or records about the user’s performance? If so, are you able to easily view this information?

Once I have determined if the app is good as a reinforcer, tool for generalization, or tool for introducing a concept, I make sure that I am fully able to use the app on my own. Then, I’m ready to introduce it to my learner!