Archive for the 'Resources' Category
Thursday, May 3rd, 2007
Timo is a friendly animated tutor who helps children with autism, hearing impairments, developmental delays and other language problems to learn communication, conversation and reading in fun computer programs. Animated Speech’s software is designed to give speech pathologists, educators and parents who work with these children an important new tool to build comprehension and vocabulary skills.
The initial concept for Timo was developed by Dr. Dom Massaro and Dr. Michael Cohen with a grant from the National Science Foundation. Originally, Timo was called Baldi, and the once university lab project soon became a commercially available product. Dan Feschbach, the company’s CEO, has grown the company and they now have 3 products available for varying levels of language learning.
Team Up With Timo: Vocabulary teaches identification, comprehension, and expression of more than 650 words including animals, human body, weather and much more. The program offers pre and post tests for assessing progress and has 6 other levels of learning to teach the vocabulary. The unique aspect of this program is Timo, who engages the child in conversation using the child’s own name! The child’s voice can also be recorded so that the child’s parents and other team members can review it after the child’s session. Rewards are given in response to correct answers and include a large variety of brief animations. This program has many options for customization and is best for early language learners through about 4th grade vocabulary.
If you are looking for more customization, ASC also offers Team Up With Timo: Lesson Creator. In this program, teachers and professionals and create custom vocabulary and language lessons for the child to do on the computer. You can use any pictures you want including the ones in the Timo vault, or upload your own. This is an excellent way to build individualized, personalized lessons for your child.
For older children or for children who have more language skills, they have Team Up With Timo: Stories, designed by Dr. Lauren Franke and Pamela Connors, speech-language experts. This program teaches listening skills, comprehension, vocabulary, retelling stories, and reading skills. Research has shown that being able to retell a story at age 4 is predictive of later success in school. Storytelling also helps children participate in daily life with friends, family and school. This program is based on research in language development and uses the Narrative-based language intervention (NBLI) approach that combines storytelling with skill-based activities.
Timo products are available online and a free trial is provided.
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Wednesday, May 2nd, 2007
In a new book from Wiley Publishers called Universal Usability: Designing Computer Interfaces for Diverse Populations (click on this link to order the book) by Jonathon Lazar, TeachTown has a chapter written by myself, Dr. Lars Liden (our CTO), Dr. Brooke Ingersoll (now with Michigan State University), and Sven Liden. In Chapter 9, TeachTown highlights the development process and research for producing TeachTown: Basics. The chapter briefly reviews the literature on treatments for autism and computer-assisted interventions, it also emphasizes the importance of using evidence-based practices and implications of computer instruction is discussed along with future research directions of TeachTown and other technology-based autism companies.
ABSTRACT FROM CHAPTER 9 (Whalen, Liden, Ingersoll, & Liden)
EVIDENCE-BASED COMPUTER-ASSISTED INSTRUCTION FOR AUTISM SPECTRUM DISORDERS
Current trends in treatment and education for children focus on the importance of using evidence-based practices (e.g. Reichart, 2001). Because of the numerous treatment and education options available for children with autism, many of which are not supported by research, the use of evidence-based practices is particularly important (Perry & Condillac, 2003) and many schools are mandating these practices. With recent advances in computer technology, there has been a strong interest in the use of computer-assisted instruction (CAI) in the treatment and education of children (Parkin, 2006). Due to the unique characteristics and learning styles of children with autism, the interest and need for CAI is especially strong (e.g. Goldsmith & LeBlanc, 2004). In this chapter, evidence-based practices for autism, particularly Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), will be reviewed as well as the research on technology and computers for this population. The importance of developing evidence-based technology for children with autism and other special needs will be discussed along with the implications for designers and researchers.
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Friday, February 23rd, 2007
The cost of treatment for children with autism is so high, and even if you are lucky enough to find a good intervention for your child, it is hard to get the money.
In case you were thinking that nobody out there wants to help, check out this organization, Angel, Inc., who provides grants to individual families who have children with autism to get help with treatment!
I thought this was such a great thing to offer families, but you have to live in Wisconsin. Funding is for up to $500 and you can apply quarterly!
For those of you who think TeachTown might be a good fit for your child, this is more than enough to cover an annual subscription!
They also provide education and networking for families who have children with autism.
You can help with this great cause by buying your Avon products through www.youravon.com/jmongillo and 20% will be donated to Angels, Inc. to help more families.
If you know about other organizations like this in other states, please post here to let others know!
Posted in General Thoughts, Resources | No Comments »
Wednesday, October 11th, 2006
Many children with autism spectrum disorders require the use of assistive technology to help them learn at home, in the community, and in school. The term “technology” does not simply relate to things like computers, TV, video, or cameras. In fact, these materials are considered to be “high technology” compared to items which are “mid technology” such as overhead projectors, calculators, and CD players. There are also “low technology” items which are probably used the most for this population. This would include things like picture schedules, picture communication, highlighters, dry erase boards, and many of the other visual supports that are needed to help the child learn.
If you are interested in learning more about assistive technology, I found an excellent summary by Susan Stokes which was written under a contract with CESA 7 and funded by a discretionary grant from the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction.
There are many organizations which deal with assistive technology (AT) and aim to help families better understand their options and to choose the appropriate AT for their child. One such organization is Parents Helping Parents who offers an iTECH Center with hands-on experience with different types of AT and provides training sessions to help families use the AT. I will be doing a parent information night on October 25th to teach families in the San Francisco bay area more about the TeachTown: Basics program. If you are interested in attending, spaces are still available.
There are also several conferences each year which host thousands of attendees including parents, teachers, speech pathologists, behavioral consultants, and schools staff to provide more information about assistive technology. One such conference is the Closing the Gap Conference at the Sheraton Bloomington Hotel in Minneapolis, Minnesota on October 19-2, 2006 with pre-conference workshops October 17-18. In addition to the many other valuable exhibits and presentations, TeachTown will host an exhibit booth there with demonstrations and information about our products and research.
In January, 2007, another big assistive technology conference will take place in Orlando, Florida. This conference is sponsored by the Assistive Technology Industry Association (ATIA) and will occur at the Caribe Royale Resort on January 24-27. TeachTown will be hosting an exhibit booth and will provide a hands-on training workshop for TeachTown: Basics.
If you are interested in picture communication specifically, Pyramid Educational Consultants provides some of the best training. This program uses the Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS) and workshops are available all over the country.
Posted in TeachTown, Upcoming Events, General Thoughts, Resources | 2 Comments »
Monday, August 21st, 2006
The Social Skills Picture Book: Teaching Play, Emotion, and Communication to Children with Autism is a book which uses pictures of real children to teach over 30 social skills such as conversation, manners, and empathy. I use this book frequently with older or higher-functioning children with autism and Asperger’s syndrome. Because children with autism often learn better using visual supports, books like this are great tools for making complex social interactions more salient. I also really like that they used pictures of real children rather than cartoons or drawings. This helps show peer modeling in a 2-D situation. When I have used this book, I typically supplement it with video modeling and hands-on activities with peers. I have never used the book on its own, nor do I think that was the intention of the authors. I would strongly recommend this book to teachers, behavioral therapists, and speech therapists. It can also be useful for parents who are trying to teach social understanding to their child, or to use when a play date comes over.
Posted in Books, Resources | 3 Comments »