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Archive for June, 2006

First 5 California: Birth to 5 Years

Wednesday, June 14th, 2006

pointing.jpgThe California Children and Families Commission is one of the few government programs which focuses on the treatment of children with ASD who have a diagnosis today - most government resources focus on research for a cause and a cure and although that is very important, it is also important to have programs to help the children currently diagnosed, and I am always excited to learn more about these programs. I recently learned about this program and wanted to share it with all of you.
First5logo54.gifThe First 5 California Mission:

Current research in brain development clearly indicates that the emotional, physical and intellectual environment that a child is exposed to in the early years of life has a profound impact on how the brain is organized. The experiences a child has with respect to parents and caregivers significantly influence how a child will function in school and later in life.

The California Children and Families Act of 1998 is designed to provide, on a community-by-community basis, all children prenatal to five years of age with a comprehensive, integrated system of early childhood development services. Through the integration of health care, quality child care, parent education and effective intervention programs for families at risk, children and their parents and caregivers will be provided with the tools necessary to foster secure, healthy and loving attachments. These attachments will lay the emotional, physical and intellectual foundation for every child to enter school ready to learn and develop the potential to become productive, well-adjusted members of society.
SNP002.jpgThe First 5 California Special Needs Project works with families, caregivers, child care providers – including Head Start and State Preschool programs, educators, health, mental health, and social services providers – to support young children with a broad spectrum of special needs in the context of and as an integral part of the First 5 School Readiness Initiative community approach.
Special Needs Project emphasis areas include: spot_photo_04.jpg

1. Universal access to screening for early identification/diagnosis and referrals for physical and developmental issues (including social/emotional/behavioral) 2. Improved access to and utilization of services and supports through coordination and reallocation of existing resources and building of new supplemental resources.

3. Inclusion of young children with disabilities and other special needs in appropriate typical preschools, child care and development and other community settings with provision of necessary supports to help the child succeed in these environments. 4. Evaluation to identify effective practices and to improve programs.

They also have the Map to Inclusive Child Care Project. The Map Project works under the umbrella of the California Institute on Human Services (CIHS) at Sonoma State University and is funded by the California 50134.jpgDepartment of Education’s Child Development Division. This project seeks to expand opportunities for children with disabilities and special needs in child care and development programs. The project is committed to improving the delivery of quality child care services to children with disabilities and other special needs in inclusive settings. This is accomplished by bringing together key stakeholders who have an interest in and have impact on quality child care programs that include children with disabilities and other special needs.

They have a book available to help parents who have children with difficult behaviors called Children with Challenging Behavior, it is a PDF, you can just print it out for your home or office.

Also interesting is their SCHOOL READINESS program whose goal is to implement programs that improve the transition from early care settings to elementary school and increase the schools’ and communities’ capacity to promote the sucesss of young children. You might also like to check out the POWER OF PRESCHOOL program, which is a high-quality, free, voluntary, part-day preschool program for all four year-olds (or three- and four-year olds). The program will assist children in becoming personally, socially, and physically competent, effective learners, and ready to transition into kindergarten.

I appreciate that they are also taking the time to collect data to assess the effectiveness of these programs.

University of Washington Autism Center Summer Intensive Training

Sunday, June 11th, 2006


The UW Autism Center is getting ready for their annual summer training program!

Speakers for this training include Dr. Geraldine Dawson (not only very knowledgable but a great speaker!) as well as Dr. Felice Orlich, Dr. Milani Smith, and Dr. Samuel Zinner. I was a speaker for this training series when I worked at UW and the program was very well attended and attendees loved it - you probably will too - check it out!

This annual training is scheduled for the last week of July (7/24-7/28). They are hosting a week-long course that is ideal for anyone interested in up-to-date information in the field of autism – including parents, teachers, special educators, SLP’s, OT’s, students, para-educators, and home therapy assistants.

ChildClinic3.jpgThe course will emphasize assessment and intervention strategies from a multidisciplinary perspective, including medical perspectives and interventions and strategies for promoting learning, communication and social skills throughout childhood and adolescence. Information about genetics, brain development and early diagnosis will be presented. Other topics will include how to handle challenging behaviors, strategies for students in post elementary grades, social skills training, and a wide range of ABA-based teaching techniques.

The cost for this training course is $500. Clock hours (30) and university credit hours (3) will
be available to educators and/or students for an additional stipend. An overview of the course
content can be viewed on their website
, along with registration forms (downloadable PDF file) for
those who would like to participate in this summer’s training.

Southern California Talks, June 27-28

Sunday, June 11th, 2006

home_pic1.jpgI will be giving 2 talks at the end of this month in Southern California, sponsored by Autism Spectrum Therapies, a Southern California company that offers some of the best treatment services out there for children with autism (also has a very impressive staff!). Demonstrations of TeachTown: Basics will be shown as well as a discussion about the importance of evidence-based practices, research, and how computers might be able to help improve existing treatment programs.


DATE: Tuesday, June 27
TIME: 7:00 — 9:00 p.m.
PLACE:Ayres Hotel, 14400 Hindry Avenue, Hawthorne
(405 Freeway @ Rosecrans Avenue)

DATE: Wednesday, June 28
TIME: 7:00 — 9:00 p.m.
PLACE: Embassy Suites, 1325 East Dyer Road, Santa Ana
(55 Freeway @ Dyer Road)

Space is Limited — RSVP’s are required — (866) AST-1520

Speech, Language and Hearing Milestones DVD

Thursday, June 8th, 2006

0112825_a.jpgThe American Speech and Language Association (ASHA) now offers a helpful DVD for parents, teachers, researchers, and clinicians which overviews milestons for speech, language, and hearing development in the first 5 years of life.  The website includes samples from the DVD and is helpful on its own but the DVD has much more information and only costs $10 (even less if you order in bulk - for schools, clinics, etc.).  I also think this would be an excellent resource for pediatricians to hand out to their patients and obviously a terrific thing for speech and language pathologists and audiologists to give to parents. 

Speech, Language, and Hearing Milestones: Birth to Age Five is a 44-minute DVD with three main sections:

  1. Introduction to communication. Briefly explains the importance of communication and how speech and language develops. It also covers the role of hearing and the impact of an unidentified hearing loss.
  2. Speech-language pathologists and audiologists. Describes the credentials and services of the professions, particularly those for children birth to age 5.
  3. Communication Milestones. Individual chapters focus on general communication milestones by the following age ranges: Birth to 3 months; 4 to 6 months; 7 months to 1 year; 1 to 2 years; 2 to 3 years; 3 to 4 years; and 4 to 5 years

Review of ABA Conference in Atlanta

Wednesday, June 7th, 2006

This was a very exciting conference foatlanta_image03_sm.gifr TeachTown, our booth was extremely well attended and we ran out of almost all of our handouts! Researchers, clinicians, and parents were all very eager to get a copy of TeachTown: Basics.

We had a 3-hour continuing education workshop with about 10 attendees - it was great - our attendees had some great suggestions for continuing to improve our products and several people approched me afterwards about doing research with TeachTown: Basics.

feature.jpgOur symposium with myself, Ilene Schwartz, and Beth Wyman was well attended and people were very interested in TeachTown and the research. For my talk, I educated people about TeachTown and gave a brief demonstration of TeachTown: Basics. Dr. Ilene Schwartz from University of Washington’s Experimental Education Unit, presented results from their study comparing TeachTown: Basics to Discrete Trial Training (DTT) for 3 children. Two of the children in their research did better with the teacher-taught DTT while 1 child responded well to TeachTown: Basics. Although the outcome of this research was not as good as we had hoped, we were able to identify a number of things in terms of next steps for improving the current TeachTown: Basics program. Basically, it seemed that the two children who did not do well with the program did not understand how to use the program. It is possible that it was because they were new learners in computer based instructional environments. We are now working on a “learning to learn” module which will help new users and children with little or no computer experience to prep for using TeachTown: Basics. Beth Wyman with ASTAR (Autism Spectrum Therapy and Research) presented data on one child who used TeachTown: Basics to supplement his existing home program. She used both the TeachTown data collection system and standardized measures such as the ABLLS to demonstrate treatment efficacy. Initially, there was some learning to learn on the computer instruction that was needed to foster later success. This child ended up doing very well with the TeachTown: Basics program and even showed some possible carry over effects into his 1:1 instructional environments. He is now showing longer attention spans in work sessions, more consistency in performance, and overal progress in programs. Beth is planning to supplement home programs with TeachTown: Basics with 1 or 2 more children in the near future. Dr. Schwartz gave a thoughtful and interesting discussion at the end of the symposium emphasizing the positive approach that TeachTown has for treatment. She emphasized the importance of applying best-practices in ABA research into the design of the TeachTown: Basics, contuing research on the efficacy and applicability of our products, and making the effort to make treatment more accessible to families, schools, and other institutional settings who need it. Although the research is still preliminary, attending researchers were impressed with the fact that our company focuses on researching the products and that we use this research to make TeachTown products better all the time. The symposium was very well attended and the buzz following it was exciting. I spent the rest of the conference being approached by people wanting to know more about TeachTown!

CHDD_shipcanal_130x130.jpgIn addition to the exciting events for TeachTown, we were able to see some great talks. Dr. Ilene Schwartz was an invited speaker. The purpose of her presentation was to describe the role of behavior analysts in preparing and partnering with educators to work with children with and without disabilities. Although much of the work of applied behavior analysts deals with the school age population, as a field we are often absent from debates about school reform and teacher education. During the presentation, Dr. Schwartz made the case for why it is important to increase our presence in these forums and suggested strategies to talk about behavior principles in a manner that is acceptable to our colleagues in public schools and colleges of education.

114105lr.jpgDr. Laura Schreibman from UC San Diego and 2 of her students from the UCSD Autism Lab presented very exciting and innovative research on the identification of child characteristics that might predict success in different treatment programs such as Pivotal Response Training (PRT). This research is very important to the field of autism in that it acknowledges that “one size does not fit all” for this population and that even for an individual child, their ideal treatment might change over time as their skills and developmental level change. Dr. Marjorie Charlop-Christy from Claremont McKenna College provided an insightful discussion about UCSD’s research - she complemented them on their vigorous scientific procedures (their data was excellent) and not only on identifying child characteristics but maybe even teaching non-responders to a specific kind of treatment (in this case, PRT) how to be responders. I am always very excited to see the research from UCSD as I am an alumni from that lab =).

I also attended a panel discussion from the folks at Eden II where they reviewed allspot_photo_04.jpg of their procedures for quality assurance at their facilities. I was very impressed with the thorough commitment to providing high quality treatment to people with autism and the parents. Their company also focuses on ensuring that staff are high quality and that they are happy working there. I took a lot of notes at this one, I think they have some excellent strategies for making sure that quality treatment is provided.

Manya (TeachTown’s Program Director/Director of Education), attended an exciting all day workshop on teaching reading to students with disabilities. Reading has long been her area of interest and graduate work. The workshop was presented by the staff at Morningside Academy, a laboratory school with both elementary and middle school programs in Seattle that was founded by Dr. Kent Johnson, who is also co-founder for Headsprout.com. Morningside Academy utilizes the effective approches of direct instruction and fluency based instruction to teach children who aren’t quite making in in public school settings. This particular workshop focused on providing a thorough introduction to the area of reading. They looked at the most important components of effective reading instruction, including prerequisites to reading (language, phonemic awareness, phonological coding, and rapid automatic naming skills); phonics and decoding skills; vocabulary and background knowledge, comprehension skills and strategies, application of comprehension skills and strategies during reading; and learning skills such as rapid interaction with a teacher and peer, reasoning and problem solving repertoires, and participating in classroom discussions. The Morningside staff presented the basic principles for teaching each component, showed and modeled each component, and had the audience break out into small groups to practice teaching each component with immediate feedback and coaching from Morningside teachers. Manya said it was a great workshop and people who are interested in incorporating reading performance in their teaching and intervention planning should consider attending if the opportunity is there.

Overall, this was a very exciting conference, next year (May, 2007), you can attend ABA in San Diego - we will be there for sure and are really looking forward to it!