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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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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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The Ever Changing IEP 2011

December 11, 2011 in Special Education Advisor Blog by Dennise Goldberg

Last Friday was my son’s 3 year review. It lasted three hours, which is not uncommon for a 3 year review; ours last that long even when we don’t have assessments to review. As I stated in my previous blog, my son is now in the 5th grade….yes, preparing for that wonderful time called “Middle School.” Our concerns for middle school are with his Academics, Speech/Language and Social Skills. My son’s Woodcock Johnson Achievement scores were quite surprising to us. He is now in the high average range in spelling and math calculation. However, he is still in the low average range in reading comprehension, story recall-delayed and applied problems with regards to math. He has a lot of strengths as well as many needs. Read the rest of this entry →

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IEP Recreation: There is no Friendship Algorithm

February 20, 2011 in Special Education Advisor Blog by Dennise Goldberg

Making friends isn’t easy for anyone but becomes even more difficult if you are a child with special needs who has an Individualized Education Program (IEP).  While most schools use an IEP to primarily focus on academics, one of the most overlooked uses is to help with socialization and recreation.  The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) allows for support services, known as “Related Services” that helps the child receive a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE).  The definition of Related Services as defined by IDEA says:  Read the rest of this entry →

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Teaching Children with Special Needs How to Become a Social Detective

December 14, 2010 in Special Education Advisor Blog by Dennise Goldberg

When I was at my son’s IEP last week, his Recreational Therapist brought in a book that she uses to help with his socialization skills in school.  It’s called “You are a Social Detective” Explaining Social Skills to Kids.  The authors of the book are Michelle Garcia Winner and Pamela Crooke.  They are specialists for people who have Social Learning Challenges as well as Speech and Language Pathologists; we recently posted an article written by them called Social Thinking and Applied Behavior AnalysisRead the rest of this entry →

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