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The Highly Qualified Speech Pathologist – Do You Have One?

May 19, 2013 in App Review, Special Education Articles by Jess

For parents of children on the Autism spectrum who are in the mainstream classroom environment, the question of having highly qualified professionals on your child's team is an important one. Although most parents want their high-functioning child to be in the mainstream, what they don't realize is that they are giving up the potential of having specialists who really understand their child, in exchange for time in the mainstream with neurotypical peers. The highly qualified clause of the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) act, sadly, does not give parents the right to demand a specialist who is qualified in inclusion, social communication, and other key aspects of your child's learning style. Nor does it require that your child's specialist have a particular passion for incorporating cutting edge technology and strategies to maximize your child's success. When you have specialists on your child's team who don't understand these key components, your child is at risk for social isolation, exclusion, bullying, behavioral challenges and falling below grade level. Read the rest of this entry →

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Speech Therapy Jargon: Speech & Language Terms

August 2, 2012 in Special Education Articles by Jess

When you’re new to the world of speech therapy, learning the new terminology can be overwhelming. Always ask your child’s speech-language pathologist (SLP) to rephrase something if you have trouble with it. You can also stop by your local library and pick up some books on speech therapy. Many speech therapy books offer a simple breakdown of the basics. Here’s a quick reference guide to help you get started sorting out the terms. You can also review a previous post on speech therapy acronyms. Read the rest of this entry →

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Does My Son Want Friends?

March 13, 2012 in Special Education Advisor Blog by Doug Goldberg

When I pick my son up from school I always ask him the same question, “How was school today?” This is always answered the same way, “It was good.” When I ask him to expand on his answer he will tell me about all of the academics he worked on, what therapies he went to, and whether they had PE, computer lab or went to the library that day. It’s a fine answer, but not really what I’m looking for. My follow up question is always, “Who did you talk to today?” For the last few months this has been answered with, “Nobody.” Really, you went the entire day without speaking to anyone? “Well, a couple of kids said hi to me, so I said hi back,” he would reply. That’s it!!! Read the rest of this entry →

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Manage Social Situations through Video Modeling: The Social Express

February 28, 2012 in App Review by Doug Goldberg

 

The Social Express by The Language Express, Inc. is impeccably produced from top to bottom. The graphics, animation and sound are all top notch. The content is wonderful and very helpful for children with a social communication disorder, autism or other forms of developmental delays. According to the CEO and Founder of The Language Express, Marc Zimmerman, “The Social Express teaches children how to think about and manage social situations through video modeling. The Social Express targets core deficit areas that stand in the way of school, social, and life success for children and young adults with social learning challenges.”

Now for my one caveat, with top notch production and content comes a high price. The Social Express costs $90, which is very expensive and will price many families out of the market. Now for the good news, I have learned that until the end of March 2012 you can purchase The Social Express for 50% off. Even better news, for those of you that don’t own an iPad the Social Express is available for your PC and Mac.

According to the website, “The Social Express comes with 16 interactive lessons featuring 30 scenes that are divided into two skill levels. Skill Level 1 targets younger users and/or those who have more difficulty understanding social situations. Skill Level 2 targets users who are aware of social rules but have difficulty using them in real-world settings. Each skill level ends with an interactive review of the Hidden Social Keys that have been learned during the preceding lessons, followed by a congratulatory presentation of a key that unlocks the Clubhouse.”

I took the Social Express out for a test drive with my 11 year old son who receives recreation therapy and speech therapy in school specifically to work on social language goals outlined in his Individualized Education Program (IEP). In his latest standardized Social Language Development test he scored in the 1% for children his age. To say he is delayed in social language is an understatement! We have been incorporating Social Thinking philosophies from Michelle Garcia Winner at home and in school so I was very curious how it would relate to what the Social Express was trying to accomplish. As it turns out the philosophies are very similar.

My son and I had a terrific time playing the Social Express. Each video modeling sequence put you in a different social situation and let the user choose how to react. No matter what your choice it showed the user the ramifications of their actions both good and bad. A few times my son would choose the incorrect answer on purpose just to see what would happen.

During the interaction on the screen the program provided teaching tips for the user to guide them to the correct answer. You can shut these tips off in the set-up screen if you don’t want to see them. After the first few lessons we shut off the teaching tips. If my son didn’t know the answer we would stop and discuss it prior to his selection.

The Social Express also incorporates the concept of a handheld digital problem solver (DPS) to help the user come up with various coping strategies when they are angry or sad.

As the Social Express progressed the concepts being taught went from very basic to much more complicated. Some of the concepts being taught included using your eyes and brain to figure things out and talking about things others like to talk about. This is very similar to the Social Thinking Philosophies of expected & unexpected behaviors and people files. It also had a lesson on idioms, you know those difficult sayings we use in everyday life that have a different meaning then their literal meanings such as, “I’m on top of the world.”

The Social Express also comes with a printable section that allows the user to build on what they learn in the program in everyday life.

As I mentioned earlier the Social Express is a wonderful app that is one of the best produced products on the market. If you are interested in this app make sure you purchase it this month so that you can take advantage of the 50% off pricing at $44.99. There is also a lite version of the Social Express that you can download for free from itunes. I highly recommend downloading the lite version first and testing the app yourself before purchasing the full product. The lite product comes with 2 lessons and is a wonderful way to determine if the full app is worth the purchase.

 

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by Jess

Literate Links

February 14, 2012 in Special Education Articles by Jess

Studying language development since I first became a Speech-Language Pathologist has become a never ending passion with sometimes surprising twists. New studies emerge almost daily with mind boggling results from MRI research, new computer generated programs and language investigations involving younger and younger children. One such new study, by developmental psychologist David Lewkowicz of Florida Atlantic University, describes recent research wherein scientists found that babies’ language development during the babbling stage, at about 6 months, makes a dramatic change. Their eye gaze begins to shift to the mouth. In other words, babies begin to actually study what the mouth is doing when it its making those funny speech sounds. Another study reported in Live Science in 2009 by Charles Q Choi, noted that French researchers had found that newborns cry with the same melodic pattern as their native language and suggests that infants begin picking up elements of language in the womb! Read the rest of this entry →

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Learn How to have Conversations with Peers: Conversation Builder

February 14, 2012 in App Review by Doug Goldberg

Conversation Builder by Mobile Education Tools is the best pragmatic speech application I have used with my 10 year old son with a pragmatic language disorder. According to the American Speech Language Hearing Association:

An individual may say words clearly and use long, complex sentences with correct grammar, but still have a communication problem - if he or she has not mastered the rules for social language known as pragmatics. Read the rest of this entry →

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