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Dr. Chris’ Autism Journal » Research
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Archive for the 'Research' Category

National Center of Technology Innovation - Technology Innovators Conference

Wednesday, November 12th, 2008
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The National Center for Technology Innovation (NCTI) is hosting the Technology Innovators Conference in Washington, DC on November 20 and 21, 2008 at the Madison Hotel.  This conference will include technology developers, researchers, technology vendors, policymakers, OSEP projects, and the media.  Online registration is now closed. On-site registrations will be accepted.

The conference offers 2 days of informative presentations and an expo which will offer the following opportunities: 

TeachTown has received funding and support from NCTI and we are looking forward to a long-term relationship with the organization as our company grows.  Click here to see more about our history with NCTI.

Narrative Language and Timo Stories

Saturday, July 19th, 2008
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S7300660.jpgVocabulary and text comprehension are critical skills for reading and academic success. The ability to understand and tell a familiar story forms a strong part of the foundation for these later skills. Between the ages of two and five, children’s narratives (i.e. ability to recount events or tell stories) progress from simple phrases about past events to telling more elaborate personal stories (like what happened at school or at the dentist that day) to retelling of familiar children’s books, and on to creating stories of their own.

Narrative skills are critical for school success and are often a strong predictor of kindergarten readiness and later academic success.  When children are asked “What did you do over the weekend?” by their teachers, children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) and other language difficulties often have trouble answering this question. Similarly, when asked “What did you do at school?” by the parents, the child demonstrated the same frustration in understanding the question, remembering, and verbally recounting the experience. Even children who have recovered from other language deficits often demonstrate difficulty with narrative language skills.

Types of narratives include recounting events, unsolicited accounts of events, event casts (i.e. “broadcasting” of ongoing actions), making up stories (i.e. fictional stories), and scripts (i.e. response to tell what is done in aS7300618.jpg certain situation) (Heath, 1986). These skills not only tell us about a child’s language and literacy development, they also give us insight into their social, emotional, and cognitive skills (Engel, 1995).

Research in speech-language pathology supports the significance of narrative language:

Bishop and Edmundson (1987), in a prospective, longitudinal study of language-impaired children, found that the best predictor of a positive outcome was the ability to tell back a simple story to pictures.

Botting, Faragher et al. (2001). McCabe and Rollins (1994), and Westby (1991), have similarly documented the importance of oral narrative skills for a child’s social and school success.

Loveland (1989) compared children with ASD to children with mental retardation and found that both groups were able to answer questions about a puppet show or video skit they observed, but that the ASD children produced more bizarre responses demonstrating their difficulties with grasping the story as a representation of meaningful events. When compared to typically developing peers, children with ASD lacked the complexity in responses compared to their peers (Losh & Capps, 2003). The children in this study also showed problems inferring, building on causal relationships in narrative contexts, and demonstrated deficits on emotional understanding measures.

Narrative Based Language Intervention (NBLI) is a hybrid language intervention approach that combines naturalistic activities (such as story telling) with skill-based activities to address children’s language and communication goals (Swanson, L. A., Fay, M. E., et al. 2005). The goal of NBLI is to help children develop skills for generating narratives while at the same time addressing their individual needs to develop crucial underlying language skills.

Some of the benefits of NBLI include the ability to target multiple language goals simultaneously (i.e. narrative skills, comprehension, morphosyntax and complex syntax, vocabulary, and social thinking); and the ability to target other goals simultaneously (e.g. memory, sequencing, pretend play, self-help skills, reading).

ABOUT TIMO STORIES

Animated Speech has incorporated NBLI with scaffolded (i.e. making implicit information more salient and gradually building complexity ) stories to improve the story retelling skills, products_stories_03-new.pngpersonal narratives, answering questions, following directions, imitation, reading comprehension, syntax, and vocabulary skills of young children with autism and/or significant language problems.

Animated Speech, with support from Dr. Lauren Franke (speech-language expert), has developed a computer based NBLI program called Timo Stories.

Timo’s Library has 6 colorful stories at 2 levels about everyday events and problems and includes 2 levels of materials:

Timo Stories Pic.pnga) Level 1: Mostly simple sentence patterns and concrete concepts

b) Level 2: Incorporates complex sentence patterns and more complex sentence patterns

Timo Stories includes the following key features:

· Stories depicit predictable events, in language that is simple, yet complex enough to cover a range of topics

· Addresses comprehension, story-retelling, vocabulary, turn-taking, verbal reasoning & more using stories about common events and problems

· Combines a naturalistic linguistic environment and direct teaching

· Timo’s Think Tank features 6 activities to practice vocabulary in multiple contexts

· Story Scramble reinforces sequencing and retelling each story

· Tracks student progress

· Based on Narrative Based Language Intervention (Swanson et. al. 2005)

· Engages and motivating stories and Timo engages child through dialogue and calling the child by name

· Offers intensive opportunities to learn via books and reinforcing games

· Stories written in an explicit style as a processing aid

· Provides Ideas for activities away from the computer for generalization

Timo Stories has many benefits for the student including:

· Supports and promotes social interaction with Timo rather the just working on the computer.

· Offers numerous opportunities for children to build their comprehension, syntax, and story retelling skills.

· Emphasizes earlier development of mental state vocabulary.

· Teaches child to grasp and remember information – retelling stories with increasingly complex syntax and concepts.

· May help with the development of early theory of mind skills.

· Opportunities to learn & practice vocabulary in multiple contexts of increasing complexity.

· Stories & activities designed to help students develop background knowledge of every day events & problem solving

Interactive Autism Network (IAN)

Sunday, March 9th, 2008
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ian_logo.gifIf you are a parent and are looking for a great opportunity to get involved in autism research, you should check out IAN, the Interactive Autism Network.  IAN was established in January 2006 at Kennedy Krieger Institute and is funded by a grant from Autism Speaks. IAN’s goal is to facilitate research that will lead to advancements in the prevention, treatment, and cure of autism spectrum disorders.  Joining IAN will help you better understand the research process, help you keep up with some of the latest and most cutting-edge research findings, better understand the value of research, and even influence the direction future research.

What is IAN Research?

B & E 3.JPGIAN Research allows parents of children diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) to participate in research over the Internet. Parents provide information about their child’s diagnosis, behavior, family, environment, and services received. Parents may also report on their child’s progress over time.

Who can participate in IAN Research?

To register and answer research questions in IAN Research, you must live in the United States and be a biological or adoptive parent of a child under the age of 18 who is diagnosed professionally with one of the following disorders:

  • Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)
  • Autism
  • Asperger Syndrome
  • Autistic Disorder
  • Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD)
  • Pervasive Developmental Disorder-Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS)
  • Childhood Disintegrative Disorder (CDD)

The child should not have a diagnosis of Rett Syndrome.

What are the benefits of joining?

Teacher and Girl.JPGYou will be able to participate in important research on ASDs. IAN will provide tools that help you monitor your child’s progress over time and explore how your child is similar to (or different than) other children affected by this disorder.

Research Opportunity: Seattle, Washington

Sunday, July 8th, 2007
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I am posting this opportunity on behalf of a doctoral student, Amy Gallagher, at Argosy University, please contact her directly with any questions: 

I am a Clinical Psychology Doctoral student (Psy.D.) at Argosy University in Seattle, WA conducting research in order to understand the experiences that parents have when they use computer technology with their autistic children.

I am conducting interviews with parents of autistic children (aged six to twelve) who have used computer technology with their children over a period of at least six months. The study will require your attendance for one audio taped interview lasting about 1 ½ to 2 hours. During the interview, you will be asked about your experiences using computer technology with your autistic child. The interview will take place in a convenient, confidential location such as a local library or university study room. There is no compensation for participation.

In order to qualify for the study, you must be a parent of an autistic child (aged six to twelve) who has used computer technology/software with your child for at least six months. Also, you must reside in the Seattle/Puget Sound area of Washington State.

If you are interested in participating, or would like further information, please contact me, Amy Gallagher, at amya365@aol.com or 607-329-7403 (cell phone). This study has been approved by the Argosy University-Seattle Institutional Review Board at Argosy University-Seattle, 2601-A Elliott Ave; Seattle, WA 98121.   

Technology Feedback for Department of Education

Thursday, May 31st, 2007
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If you would like to put in your 2 cents regarding the use of technology in education, here is your opportunity! 

It is very important for teachers, parents, and service providers working with the schools to give their input as this kind of feedback may affect future programs and funding!

You can fill-out the virtual roundtable comment form and your ideas will be read by Secretary Spellings and the Department of Education.  There are only a few very pertinent questions, this should only take about 5 minutes for you to complete and it could make a big difference!

 

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