Autism and iPad Apps

Apple has revolutionized the way people can communicate and learn. Over 600 universities are listed on iTunes U, which is home to 250,000 free lectures, videos and podcasts. iPods are widely used as on-the-go learning devices by individual learners and students. But it’s the company’s touch screen tablet, the iPad and it’s avallable apps, that gave voice to individuals with autism. If you’re a parent, special education professional or therapist, you can’t afford to miss the learning opportunities iPad apps has to offer. This is truly  a “miracle device”. Autism iPad Apps to the Rescue You can get a sense of how useful an iPad app is just by listening to anecdotal evidence from parents and special needs professionals. In 2009, the first real augmented and alternative communication (ACC) app Proloquo2Go was released for the iPhone. Its creator, Amsterdam-based AssistiveWare, released a company survey showing that half of Proloquo2Go users reported improved speech abilities. Ninety percent of the app users use an iPad and more than 25% more use an iPhone or iPod Touch. Proloquo2Go is an app of great promise. More than a dozen of stories culled from reliable sources online point to the same conclusion. If you’re looking for that one life-changing app to help your child communicate and learn, there’s Proloquo2Go. It’s one iPad app that has positively affected families for a small price of $219. The app’s main page is made of very simple icons with labels like “Basics,” “Comments,” “Help,” “I need,” “I want,” “Manners,” “Word Spaces,” and more. Under Basics, users can find phrases like “My name is…,” “I’m this old,” and other basic phrases helpful...

Independent Living Skills Training for Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder (Video)

Video Transcription: Keith Massel PH.D., BCBA-D,  Founder and President of Vista Center fior Behavior Analysis: As Vista began developing a program for adults, it became clear to me that most parents of adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder are anxious and fearful. They realize that they won’t be around forever, and then what? Parents of children with autism want what every parent wants…….for their children to be able to lead independent and fulling lives. Parents wonder if this is even possible. Well,  independence is a relative thing. True, everyone won’t be able to be fully independent, to live independently, have a job, and have a family. But, everyone can become more independent than they are now, and I firmly believe that.   Vista’s program for autistic adults and teens involves 3 training skills modules: Module 1 is Living Skills training, and the overarching goal of that category is for the individual to be able to live independently, or with minimal assistance.  Module 2 is Social Integration Skills, for which the individual can participate in social, and recreational activities, and engage in safe, social, and sexual behaviors.   Module 3 is vocational skills, where the goals are to prepare for employment, and to maintain employment.   And now it’s up to all of us to make sure that parents of adults with ASD get the health insurance coverage that they need in order to have access to this comprehensive level of training and ABA therapy....

What Vista Believes About the Needs of Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder (Video)

Video Transcription Keith Massel: Founder, President of Vista Center for Behavior Analysis. A few years ago I realized that there were not good quality treatments for adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder(ASD).  As a result, Vista has developed a comprehensive program that is based on Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) services. I believe that adults with autism are a neglected population. They receive some services through various regional centers such as: adaptive skills for young adults, supportive living skills, independent living skills, day treatment, and funded group homes. These services are very valuable and effective for many people. Most of the programs do not use Applied Behavior Analysis procedures, and there’s generally a lack of accountability for the results of the program. As we all know, the regional centers are under a great deal of pressure to save money, and it is unlikely that more extensive services for adults will be forthcoming in the near future. I believe an effective program for adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder must involve Applied Behavior Analysis, which is the only evidence-based program that has proven to be successful for individuals with autism. I’ve recently spoken to people who think ABA is only for children. This is simply not true. I believe many people focus on discreet trials training or intensive ABA training, whereby a child receives 25 to 40 hours per week of services. Yes this is a common expectation for ABA services, but it’s only one aspect of Applied Behavior Analysis. An Applied Behavior Analysis program is data-based, able to be replicated, accountable, and deals with socially valid behavior change. For adults, ABA would not be 25...

Identifying the Signs & Symptoms of Autism in Children and Adults

Autism is a behavior and communication disorder that is comprised of autism, Asperger’s Syndrome and Pervasive Development Disorder-Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS).  All three of these share the autism signs and symptoms of difficulty communicating both verbally and non-verbally, difficulty relating to others and the world in general and difficulty being flexible in thinking and action.  The main difference between these three is the degree with which the trouble is evident.  At one end of this spectrum, a person may have severe symptoms, while at the other end the symptoms may be difficult to notice. As you read the various symptoms below, it is necessary to keep in mind that autism is so widely varied that each person will show a different combination of the traits, but not necessarily all of them.  On the other hand, a person having a few of the symptoms may not have autism at all. These are meant as guidelines which can illuminate some of the challenges you may be having with your child and whether or not you may need further treatment from a professional.  Let’s take a look at how the various symptoms play out in different life stages. Infants and Toddlers Autism signs and symptoms in this young group may be difficult to see, but addressing the issue early can help give your child the best chance of success.  One of the biggest signs is a young child who does not speak by the age of two or a child who starts to talk and then seems to regress to a pre-vocal stage.  These children will have difficulty making eye contact with...

What is Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) and Why Does it Work?

We treat children, teens and adults who are diagnosed with autism and other language, communication, behavioral and developmental disorders. We use the principles of Applied Behavior Analysis to decrease inappropriate behaviors while increasing functional skills. We frequently have parents of young newly diagnosed children ask us to explain applied behavior analysis and why it is necessary.  Here it is in a nutshell….. Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is the application of behavioral therapy to solve problems associated with autism such as language delays and extreme sensory and behaviorial challenges. It is not one procedure, or even a handful of procedures or therapeutic techniques. It is a scientific methodology and is the only proven discipline for successfully treating autism and other developmental disabilities. Early and intensive ABA is by far the most effective approach for establishing language, self-help skills, and reducing unwanted behaviors with children diagnosed with autism and other developmental disorders. It has been described that Applied Behavior Analysts are analogous to physicians, who develop treatments for biological problems based on basic medical research. ABA is driven by data. Behavior, goals, and treatments are defined objectively and specifically. This results in reliable data to be collected and used in modifying treatment. Decisions about what treatment to use, and whether or not the treatment actually works, are dependent upon the analysis of this data. ABA therefore is a scientifically measurable approach to treating autism, and all conclusions are tied back to observable changes in behavior. Over 40 years of research demonstrates that the techniques of applied behavior analysis are effective in creating and sustaining meaningful changes in the behavior of individuals. These techniques have been used to teach new classes of behavior (as in verbal and nonverbal communication,...

What is California Autism Insurance Coverage – Areva Martin (Video)

Transcript Areva Martin: I am very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very excited about SB 946. And I am so excited about it because, while it doesn’t answer all of the issues, and it doesn’t provide for everything that families need, it is a huge step forward in terms of helping families who are dealing with getting services. I am a parent of an autistic child so I’ve had autism providers in my home since my son was two. I know the struggle of parents trying to find access to providers. I know the struggle as a lawyer that represents families who are also seeking services through regional centers, and school districts, and as a policy maker, I have been involved in this. But the good news is, as Keith said, there aren’t any age or coverage limitations. Some states which enacted autism mandates, (there are 29 states which have done so), put limits on the age of individuals that would be covered by the particular insurance.  Some states have caps on the amount that can be spent on autism therapies.  California opted not to do any of that (e.g. put limits or financial caps). SB 946 provides coverage for “behavioral health treatment.” Behavioral health treatment is a broad term, it’s defined in the legislation as… “Professional services and treatment programs, including Applied Behavior Analysis, and evidence based behavior intervention programs that develop or restore to the maximum extent practical, the functioning of an individual with pervasive developmental disorder, or autism.” SB 946 covers behavioral health treatment which includes applied behavior analysis (ABA). ABA is obviously one of the treatments...