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Archive for the 'TeachTown' Category

TeachTown Receives Federal Funding for Autism Software Development

Saturday, April 28th, 2007

teachtown cloud background.JPGWith the success of our first program, TeachTown: Basics, we were getting very antsy to start our next product to help school-age children with autism.  We are thrilled to announce that we have received a Department of Education Stepping Stones Technology grant to develop our next product and to do the initial research to help make this product effective, appropriate, and of the highest quality.  Stayed tuned for further updates about this upcoming product, we are anticipating using the new program with children starting in 2008!

To read more about our exciting news, check out the press release at: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/medicalnews.php?newsid=69034

Continue checking back to this site and the TeachTown website for announcements and opportunities to participate in our research and development process.

Dr. Laurie Stephens from HELP Group Joins TeachTown Science Board

Wednesday, April 11th, 2007

We are very excited to announce that AutHope-Frame_sm.jpgDr. Laurie Stephens from The HELP Group Center in the Los Angeles, California region (this picture is from the HELP Group and Dr. Stephens is the one on the bottom far right) has recently agreed to join TeachTown’s Scientific Advisory Board!

The TeachTown Scientific Advisory Board also includes Dr. Laura Schreibman from UC San Diego, Dr. Connie Kasari from UCLA, Dr. Ilene Schwartz from University of Washington, Dr. Geraldine Dawson from University of Washington, Dr. William Frea & Dr. Ronit Molko from Autism Spectrum Disorders, Dr. Aubyn Stahmer from San Diego Children’s Hospital, Dr. Gary Stobbe from ASTAR, and Dr. Brooke Ingersoll from Lewis and Clark College.

Dr. Stephens is Director of Autism Spectrum Disorders Programs and Director of The Help Group Center for Autism Spectrum Disorder, an outpatient program that provides diagnostic and therapeutic services for children.  She is an Assistant Clinical Professor at the Semel Institute of Neuroscience and Behavior at UCLA.  Dr. Stephens oversees the walk-kids.jpgYoung Learners Preschool for Autism and has been instrumental in creating integrated and comprehensive education and social skills programs within the Help Group’s specialized day schools for children in the autistic spectrum.  She established an intensive social skills summer camp program for children with Asperger’s Disorder, which has an international reach with campers coming from the United Kingdom, El Salvador, Japan, Korea, Mexico and other countries.  Dr. Stephens is also the Editor of The Help Group’s Professional Newsletter, the HelpLine.

Before joining The Help Group, Dr. Stephens was a Clinical Instructor of Psychiatry, Director of Child Services and an attending psychologist at the State University of New York,  Stony Brook.  Dr. Stephens received her BA in Experimental Psychology from the UC San Diego, and her Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology from SUNY Stony Brook.  She has worked in the field of autism for more tstj-158.jpghan 20 years, focusing on the early diagnosis of autism spectrum disorders, designing and implementing educational, behavioral and social programming for children of all ages, and as a consultant to numerous school districts on the East Coast.  She co-founded the Early Diagnosis Center for Autism in Suffolk County, New York.  Dr. Stephens has published and lectured extensively, and appeared as an expert in autism on several news, radio and TV programs.  She has served as the autism consultant to TV shows.  Recently, Dr. Stephens traveled to Japan to lecture to 300 educators on the best practices in education for students with Asperger’s Disorder.  She also served as Program Chair of the Help Group/Semel Institute on Asperger’s Disorder, a four day intensive workshop for educators and clinicians.  Her research interests include the differential diagnosis of high-functioning autism and Asperger’s Disorder, and the development of theory of mind skills in this population. 
Founded in 1975, The Help Group is the largest, most innovative and comprecampuspic4.jpghensive nonprofit organization of its kind in the United States serving children with special needs related to autism, Asperger’s disorder, learning disabilities, ADHD, mental retardation, abuse and emotional problems.  The Help Group’s six specialized day schools offer pre-K through high school programs for more than 1,200 students. The Help Group’s wide range of mental health and therapy services, child abuse, foster family and residential programs extend its each to more than 5,000 children and their families each year. With over 800 staff members, The Help Group’s state-of-the-art schools and programs are located on four major campuses in the Los Angeles area.

Assistive Technology

Wednesday, October 11th, 2006

icon_child1.gifMany 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.2002-2-March.jpg

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.

itechcenter1.jpgThere 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 at050_360_Jupiter_Classroom.jpgtendees 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.

phase1j.jpgIf 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. 


Saturday, July 8th, 2006

heroshot_ipod_white.jpgDo you own an IPOD or other MP3 player or do you use ITUNES on your computer? There are now many PODCASTS (i.e. reports or stories that you can listen to on your computer or IPOD) about autism.

Check out our new podcast, from an interview I did with Scott Ryan from Autism Speaks in May.V3020062.jpg

AutismOneRadio is a very good podcast to try out, I like this one a lot because it brings in researchers, professionals, and parents and is done in a very professional yet interesting way. There are several different perspectives and the interviews are done by different people so there is a lot of good variety.

53585.jpgAutism Tales is a good one because it is actually real stories from people with autism and other special needs (or their families or people who worked with them) read by Jonathon Singer.

Bartholomew Cubbins is an interesting one that is kind of like a blog that you can listen to, he expresses his opinions about different things going on in the world of autism.host_photo.jpg

Michael Boll, a father of a child with autism and a former teacher, does Autism Podcast which is pretty interesting. In this one, Michael Boll interviews various people associated with autism such as authors of books, etc. You can check out his website too where you can get all of the podcasts and more information: http://autismpodcast.org/

There are courses that you can purchase by well-known people in the field of autism at Autism Education Online. Courses are up to two and a half hours in length and cost $49.97. If you would like to take multiple courses, the cost for a package of three is $99.97 and a package price for 12 courses is $299.

J3089047.jpgAutism Today also offers audio courses for $24.95 each.

Also, if you are interested in watching online videos about autism, I found this interesting site, Autism TV, which provides links.

New Educator Page on TeachTown Website!

Tuesday, June 6th, 2006

Check out the new educator page on our website - this is a great place to start for teachers!




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