Wednesday, November 28, 2012

November 2012 Newsletter: Technology Interventions

November/December Topic: Technology Interventions -

How the iPad Helps People with Autism Communicate and Learn -

Research on Technology Interventions -

Computer Software for Autism -

Tips for Choosing Software and Apps -

PICO, A Decision Making Tool for Selecting Apps -

The Best "Expressive Language" Apps: A Review by Speech Therapist and Author, Lois Brady (Video from Autism Hangout) -

November Positive Autism News -

New Downloads This Month -

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

New Downloads This Month

We've added lots of new downloads this month. Check them out:

Autism Strategies Toolbox: A Handout for Training and Quick Reference -

Christmas Tree Token Economy -

Counting Train: Practice Counting 1-10 -

Airplane Themed Token Economy -

Car Themed Token Economy -

Police Car Themed Token Economy -

Train Themed Token Economy -

Token Economy Multi-Pack -

Airplane Themed Transition Countdown -

Car Themed Transition Countdown -

Police Car Themed Transition Countdown -

Train Themed Transition Countdown -

Transition Countdowns Multi-Pack -

November Positive Autism News

Autistic Athlete Defies the Odds
November 9, 2012

Parents Happy to Find Utah Businesses Autism-Aware
November 15, 2012

SPIDER-MAN, NEWSIES and More to Offer Autism-Friendly Performances in 2013
November 16, 2012

The Autism Project: A Worker with Autism May Be Your Best Employee
November 17, 2012

York University Students with Asperger’s Thrive in Mentorship Program
November 17, 2012

Sunday, November 18, 2012

PICO, A Decision Making Tool for Selecting Apps

Two speech-language pathologists (SLPs) developed a decision making tool for SLPs to use when selecting apps.  The PICO template is a purposeful tool for selection of apps instead of the “grab and go” method.

While this tool was created for SLPs, I think it may be helpful for other educators and parents as well.

Read the complete article about this tool here:

Friday, November 16, 2012

Tips for Choosing Software and Apps

Since there are so many apps and computer programs to choose from, here's a list of tips to help guide your shopping. Please feel free to leave a comment if you have other tips. Thanks!

  • Write down a list of skills you'd like to target with the programs/apps. For example, do you want your child or student to work on counting, greeting and conversation skills, reading, etc. This will help you focus your search.
  • Read reviews of apps before you buy.
  • See if programs/apps have a trial, demo, or "light" version that you can try for free before you buy.
  • Make sure the program/app is easy to use. If it isn't very user friendly, the child may loose interest or not learn as well.
  • See if the app/program can "grow" with your child/student. For example, I have a counting app that starts out with numbers 1 through 5, but the settings can be adjusted to go to higher numbers.
  • Make sure you (as the parent or teacher) find that the program or app settings are easy to customize and manage.
  • Choose program/apps that require little or no reading, unless this is the skill you want to focus on, or if your student can read fluently.
  • See if the program/app uses errorless learning. This means that the program prevents the child from making a wrong answer. This may be done by only allowing the correct shape to be placed in an "answer box" in the program. Incorrect shapes are immediately moved away from the "answer box" if the child tries to put them there. Errorless learning is helpful because we don't want the student to practice getting a wrong answer.
  • Use programs/apps that match a child's special interests. For example, if your child is really interested in trains or cars, find programs with this theme. A child may enjoy a train theme game more than a program specifically designed for students with autism that doesn't have that theme.

More tips for choosing apps are in the book:

Reviews of specific apps can be found here:


Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Computer Software for Autism

I've generated a list of computer software programs for children and adults with autism. This list is not necessarily complete, so please feel free to leave a comment if you have another program you recommend. Our next blog post will be tips on how to choose a software program for a person with autism, so be sure to follow Positively Autism on Facebook or Twitter to be notified of upcoming posts!

Please note that all prices are in U.S. dollars. The information provided on this website is not a recommendation, referral, or endorsement of any resource and does not replace the advice of medical, legal, or educational professionals. Positively Autism has not validated and is not responsible for any information or services provided by third parties. You are urged to use independent judgment and request references when considering any resource associated with the provision of services related to autism.

Name: Jacob's Lessons
Skills: Basic academics and reading
Price: Free

Name: PBS Kids
Skills: various academic
Price: Free

Name: Autism Unlocked
Skills: Conversation and communication skills
Price: $30.00 (single user for one year; multi-user accounts available)

Name: Vizzle
Skills: Academic Skills
Price: Various

Name: TeachTown
Skills: Language Development, Adaptive Skills, Social Emotional, Cognitive Skills, Language Arts, and Mathematics.
Price: $300.00 per student (one year license)

Name: Starfall
Skills: Academics and Reading
Price: Home membership $35, Teacher membership: $70, Classroom Membership: $150, School Membership: $270

Name: Language Builder Picture Nouns
Link: Available at Amazon
Skills: Language development
Price: $88.99

Name: Mind Reading: The Interactice Guide to Emotions
Link: Available at Amazon
Skills: Social skills
Price: $108.80

Name: You Are A Social Detective! CD
Skills: Social skills
Price: $89.95

Name: Small Steps, Big Skills Video Game
Skills: Life skills
Price: $89.95

Name: FaceSay
Skills: Social skills
Price: Classroom Edition 5 Students on 1 PC: $249 (other levels available)

Name: Picture It and PixWriter
Skills: Academic and social skills
Price: $125.00 per program

Name: Social Skill Builder
Skills: Social skills
Price: Each Social Skill Builder CD-ROM costs between $69.99 and $89.99. All five CD-ROMs may be purchased together at a 10% discount.

Name: The Social Express
Skills: Social skills
Price: $89.99

Name: MouseTrial
Skills: Vocabulary, concentration, cooperation and literacy
Price: Yearly home license: $29; Yearly classroom license: $39

Name: Laureate Learning Systems
Skills: Language and communication
Price:  $1,661 and up

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Research on Technology Interventions

Before we feature more technology-based interventions for children and adults with autism, let's look at the research behind these interventions.

According to the National Autism Center report, which summarized the research available about different autism teaching strategies, "Technology-based Treatments" are considered an "emerging" intervention. This means that there have been a few studies published about these intervention strategies.

According to the NAC report, technology interventions have been used to teach academic, communication, and self-regulation skills to children with autism ages 6 to 14 years. This reflects the extent of the research that was completed by 2009, when the report was published. There have been many new research studies since this time, and these uses of technology for people with autism will likely continue to grow.

Here are a few websites that you can use to look up how much research support different interventions have to support them:

National Autism Center Report: a free 2009 summary of research on different strategies. Provides a list of interventions that are considered established, emerging, unestablished, and ineffective. You can look up an intervention, and see which category it falls into.

National Professional Development Center on ASD: provides step-by-step guides on different strategies that are considered evidence-based.

National Association for Science in Autism Treatment: research summaries on different strategies.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

November/December Topic: Technology Interventions

Our new topic for the newsletter is technology interventions. We'll explore ways to use computers, tablets, iPads, and other technology to help children and adults with autism.

Students with autism can often learn very well using educational apps and games on tablet computers such as the Kindle Fire. Check out what's available from by cliking the picture below. Amazon donates a percentate of your purchases to Positively Autism. This helps us keep our teaching materials and newsletter free!