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Archive for the 'General Thoughts' Category

Please help us build a new program!

Wednesday, April 14th, 2010




TeachTown has spent the last 4 years helping thousands of children across the country that live with Autism Spectrum Disorders.  Now, TeachTown needs your help to create another software-assisted program for school-aged children with ASD and Asperger’s Syndrome.

With aid from a grant from the National Science Foundation, TeachTown will be conducting a series of research studies to help us develop this new product and we need volunteers.  The results of each study will help in the development of TeachTown’s newest project, an education and treatment program designed for school aged children.

Cooking_2.jpgFor our study, we are looking for parents or professionals working with children with autism or Asperger’s Syndrome to take an online survey.  You must be at least 18 years of age, and your child or the children you work with must be at least 3 years old. 
If you would like to volunteer to participate in this study, please go to our research site http://www.teachtown.com/TeachTownLifeConsentForm/ to get started with our eligibility screening survey.  You may also contact TeachTown by phone (206-366-5585 or 1-800-644-7811) or by email (research@teachtown.com).
About TeachTown:

TeachTown, Inc. is a Seattle-based research company that specializes in the development of computer-assisted treatment services for children with behavioral and developmental disorders. The company’s product, TeachTown: Basics, is the world’s first comprehensive, computer-assisted treatment program for children with autism spectrum disorders. All of TeachTown’s programs are based on best-practices from research and designed with input from an expert advisory board with extensive experience in behavior analysis, special education, developmental and clinical psychology, as well as speech pathology. More information can be found at www.teachtown.com.
About the Principal Investigator:

Christina Whalen, Ph. D, BCBA is a published expert in the field of autism and principal investigator on three federal grants, including one award-winning grant (2007). She has more than 15 years of autism research, clinical practice, and teaching experience. She developed and successfully ran two well-regarded early intervention programs (LA Clinic and University of Washington Autism Center). She is an applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) therapist and internationally known researcher; has published in refereed journals and the co-founder of TeachTown.Your browser may not support display of this image.

Book Review: Making Technology Work for Learners with Special Needs: Practical Skills for Teachers (J. Ulman)

Monday, March 1st, 2010

computer boy.jpgThis book which came out in 2005, available for $28.95 on Amazon, highlights the fact that technology is no longer just a nice thing to have for special needs students, it is a critical life skill for survival and success in the real world.  Ulman, an instructor of special education at Ball State University, nicely explains the importance of technology skills and how important it is for teachers and parents to also be up to date on technology, so that they can better teach their children.  Although the book is obviously not up to date due to the many advancements in technology since 2005, it still provides a great framework for teachers to get started in incorporating technology into their classrooms, although teachers will want to research more updated software titles (some suggestions at the end of this article).

Chris with E at computer.gifThe book takes the reader through a step-by-step, practical approach to doing a variety of tasks on the computer such as word processing, graphics, spreadsheets, databases, presentations, and using the internet.  Using pictures and easy-to-understand instructions, Ulman explains how teachers can break these sophisticated steps down into manageable instructional sessions and build the skills over time.

My favorite chapter is Chapter 7, which discusses how to use educational software in the classroom.  Ulman points out that computers are often used as a reward in the classroom, but not effectively as a learning tool.  Suggested uses for computers in the classroom include:

* Reinforced Practice (software reinforces previously taught material) (e.g. Stanley’s Sticker Stories from Edmark Reading (now Riverdeep) which reinforces writing skills)
* Tutorial (teach new concepts) (e.g. Creature Chorus from Laureate LearniLAUSD Feb Melvin Dontell Computer_00011.jpgng which teaches young children to use the mouse or touch screen)
* Simulation (simulates some aspect of real life) (e.g. The Oregon Trail from The Learning Company which teaches the student to make decisions to help travelers arrive safely in Oregon (e.g. what to take, when to leave, how fast to move, etc))
* Problem Solving (solving instructionally relevant problems) (e.g. Puzzle Tanks by Sunburst Technology which teaches the student to fill, empty, and transfer liquids between different storage tanks to reach target amounts)
* Graphics (allows users to express their creativity without having to use paper and pencil) (e.g. Kid Pix Deluxe from The Learning Company)
* Reference (dictionaries, thesaurus, encyclopedia, etc) (e.g. The American Heritage Dictionary for Children from Houghton Mifflin)
* TeacherLAUSD Feb Parthenia Jackie Computer_0001.jpg Utility (programs that make the teacher’s job easier) (e.g. Boardmaker from Mayer-Johnson which provides thousands of picture communication symbols that can be printed and used for schedules, communication, etc.)
* Student Utility (programs that make the student’s job easier) (e.g. word processing, spreadsheets, etc) (e.g. Inspiration from Inspiration Software helps students plan, organize, outline, diagram, and write)
* Authoring (provides teachers with tools to create their own lessons) (e.g. HyperStudio from Sunburst Technologies helps teachers make lessons as well as presentations for meetings or classroom use)

The book is also very helpful for how to make adaptations for special needs students and gives ideas for the mouse, keyboard, touch screen, switch inputs, and speech recognition.LAUSD Feb Parthenia Isaah Computer_00011.jpg

Because this book is from 2005, I thought it would be helpful to provide a few links to sites that specialize in software for special education, check these out!  Please let us know if you have other suggestions, these are sites that offer multiple products, not specific product sites.
Turning Point Technology


Super Kids Educational Software Reviews

SmartKids Software

Autism Society of Washington Improves The Lives of All Those Affected With ASD

Wednesday, October 21st, 2009


The Autism Society of Washington has been hard at work this summer.  ASW is comprised of a Board of Directors, a Professional Advisory Board, and an Autism Advisory Board.  They all work hard to create the best possible resources, advocacy, support, and education to all those affected with autism spectrum disorders, across all ages, and across the state of Washington. 

They have recently updated their entire website and it now has all new information and all new resources for all of the individuals, families, and professionals across Washington state.  Take a look at their new website, explore, and register with their brand new forum.  Connect with people, develop relationships, and learn more and more each time you visit.

There are fully interactive forums with up to date and meaningful topics, there are interactive state maps and local chapter websites across the state, and there is a wealth of information regarding the dissemination of current research and evidence based practice.  There is a gallery full of art submitted from individuals with ASD from across Washington, there is a featured teacher tip each month, there’s health tips, art projects and cooking activities, and there is even a favorite child quote for the month.  As you can probably tell, there really is something for everyone


Be sure to check in with the Autism Society of Washington!  Find your local chapter, see what matters to you.

TeachTown in Digital Directions article - Education Week

Monday, September 21st, 2009

Domain_2_SHAD1.pngCheck out this new article about autism and technology on the Digital Directions website from Education Week Magazine, they talk about TeachTown and other cutting-edge technologies, and also about how some people are concerned about the use of computers.  Curious to know your thoughts on this topic!

NCTI Article on TeachTown

Monday, July 20th, 2009

The National Center of Technology Innovation (NCTI) has just posted an article about the recent research TeachTown, Los Angeles Unified School District, and Cal State LA has done with young children with ASD - check it out!


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