Tech Tuesday

Katie Cohen shares:

Vocabulary is a goal I frequently address with kiddos. I have found a few apps on the Ipad for working with vocabulary.

Let’s Name Things Fun Deck by Super Duper Inc.

This app targets divergent categorization. Each page states “Let’s name…. Things ____” Examples: “Let’s name… things you see on a farm” “Let’s name… things that are red.” The app has the option to select all 52 cards or “uncheck” some which are not culturally relevant and/or developmentally appropriate. I prompt the students to name 3-5 items in the category. Sometimes I will have one student name as many items as possible, yet other times we do more of a round-robin style, taking turns naming items. Whoever names the last item is directed to “push the green button”, there’s a rewarding sound (versus if they hit the red button there’s a negative sound), and the app automatically goes to the next card. At the top of the screen data, is kept for easy documentation at the end of the activity. You can also enter in multiple students and track data over time; the app stores accuracies for each session automatically.

Baby First Words

I use this app for direct instruction of vocabulary to younger students. Active pictures with catchy audio are divided into simple categories including: animals, vehicles, food, nature, clothes, and at home. At the end of each section, you can choose to have a field of 3 choices for the student to receptively identify a named item. This is a fun way to instruct vocabulary rather than flash cards. I often use it to reinforce or pre-teach vocabulary that aligns with a book we are reading.

Category Therapy by Tactus Therapy

This app has 3 levels easy (concrete), medium (subcategory), and hard (abstract). I have found this app to be very helpful when I have a student who has learned (or memorized) all the typical materials I use for categorization. You can select from 4 activities:

1)Find. Gives a category in written and verbal form; student must receptively identify an item that’s a member of the category from field of 3 pictures.

2) Classify. Student is shown a picture of target item. Given field of 2 choices of categories, student must ID category.

3) Exclude. When shown field of 4 pictures, student must identify which one doesn’t belong

4) Find. Student is shown 3 pictures and a blank space. Given field of 2 choices, student must identify another member of the category. This level has the option of a hint which tells the target category.

This app has audio which I like because it’s helpful for my students who are not yet readers. I recommend downloading the free version (category lite) first.




While collaboration has been a part of our work lives for quite some time, the amount of collaboration required has definitely increased with the adoption of the related service model of therapy provision. So….today’s blog post is dedicated to collaboration. I have a few resources to share, but I would like for this to be an ongoing discussion!

This is a quick list that we developed to talk with parents, but it could be useful to have this discussion with anyone on the team!

Here is an example plan that was found on ASHA’s website and a fillable version based on it.

Now, I want to hear from you! How do you collaborate? Who do you collaborate with? When do you find the time to collaborate?

In addition…Would anyone be interested in a collaboration project I’m working on? If so, contact me via email ( and I will give you more details!

The Impact of Children With High Functioning Autism on Parental Stress, Sibling Adjustment, and Family Functioning

Discussed by: Allison Forrester

Patricia A. Rao

Kennedy Krieger Institute

Deborah C. Biedel

University of Central Florida

This study looks at the impact of children with high-functioning autism (HFA) on parental stress, sibling adjustment, and family functioning. There have been many studies that have looked at families with children across the autism spectrum, but this is the first study to look specifically at the impact of children with HFA on parental stress, sibling adjustment, and family functioning. The study was conducted with one group of parents and siblings of male children with HFA and another group of parents and siblings of male children with no disorder (control group). Parental stress, sibling adjustment, and family functioning were assessed with a self-report assessment package containing questionnaires to measure the following: parental stress, family functioning, psychological problems and psychopathology, general physical and mental health, sibling adjustment, and child behavior problems. Information was obtained from a variety of scales. Results were as follows: 1) parental stress was significantly higher in the HFA group; 2) no significant difference in family functioning, but the HFA group scored lower in family independence and participation in recreational and social activities; 3) no statistical difference in psychological problems of parents, but the HFA group scored higher; 4) no statistical difference in physical and mental health, but the HFA scored lower; 5) no statistical difference in sibling adjustment; and 6) significantly higher in behavior problems (internalizing and externalizing behaviors) in the HFA group.

The results of this study indicate that parents of children with HFA experience significantly more parenting stress than parents in the control group (no psychological disorder), which is not a surprise, and this was found to be directly related to the characteristics of the children. The study also shows that the higher intellectual functioning in children with HFA does not compensate for the stress that goes along with parenting children with autism spectrum disorders. In turn, intervention and/or treatment should be directed at parental stress, which will assist treatment outcomes for the child and the family because treatment directed at the child with HFA will not eliminate their primary symptoms. It also pointed out that interventions for HFA children should address behavior problems that add to parental stress and family functioning.

I thought this study provided some good information that may be helpful in the treatment and support of families with HFA children.

Understanding Autism: How Family Therapists Can Support Parents of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders

Article written by Alexandra H. Solomon and Beth Chung

Published Online June 12, 2012

Article reviewed by Amy Gray

This article explores how family therapists play an important role in helping parents cope with the challenges associated with Autism Spectrum Disorder. As we know, ASD affects the lives of children and families in a variety of ways and research indicates that parents of children on the spectrum have more stress and are twice as likely to divorce as parents of children who are developing typically. However, there is also research that suggests some families become stronger and more resilient because they have a child with ASD. Parents who feel stronger following diagnosis often work closely with family therapists, who help them deal with stress, manage feelings and access services for their child.

When a diagnosis of ASD is determined, the article states that about half of all parents feel hopeless, uninformed and overwhelmed and need support to manage feelings and navigate treatment options. In order to assist parents with treatment decisions, family therapists must understand comprehensive treatment planning for children with ASD. These services may include traditional therapies such as ABA, speech therapy, occupational therapy and educational supports. Obviously, these types of supports are essential components of treatment that enhance social, relational, play and academic skills.

In addition to understanding treatment options, therapists provide families with emotional support and the ability to cope with a multitude of feelings and emotions. ASD is a pervasive developmental disorder and may affect many areas of family life such as sleep, meals, toileting, play, travel and work. In order for family therapists to support and address common problems encountered by families they must use an integrative approach and treatment should focus on action, meaning, and emotion.


This part of therapy helps parents manage doctors’ appointments, special education meetings and therapies while also focusing on building structure and routine into daily life. Other important elements addressed in therapy include self-care, managing parental stress and division of household chores/roles.


Family therapist also help parents write a narrative about their child’s autism, which helps build acceptance and understanding. Without a focus on this area, families may blame themselves (e.g., genetics) or choices made (e.g., getting a later diagnosis, delaying treatment) leading to a false narrative and negative feelings which ultimately affect family dynamics and treatment outcomes.


An essential part of therapy will also focus on helping parents deal with complicated emotions, which range from grieving the loss of a typically developing child, loneliness, isolation and anger. This part of therapy also encourages parents to advocate or request accommodations like wearing headphones during a birthday party. Requests that make everyday life events more accessible and manageable for children and families living with ASD.

Take away

Parents of children with ASD face multiple and complex challenges and family therapists have a unique opportunity to provide guidance that is essential to maximizing a child’s potential. As a result, therapists need to be educated with current information about ASD, treatment options and work to enhance support provided by therapists, teachers and doctors.

Speech Acts and the Pragmatic Deficits of Autism

Written by: Katherine A. Loveland, Susan H Landry, Sheryl Hughes, Sharon K. Hall, Robin E McEvoy

Discussed by: Sarah Crady

  • The purpose of this journal article was to discuss the findings of a study investigating children with autism and their use of language and gesture in the context between parent and child. Four main issues were addressed in the study:
  • The pattern of speech acts (including verbal and gestural) used between verbal children with autism and their parent.
  • Can the pattern of speech acts be associated with the level of cognitive functioning?
  • Can the pattern of verbal autistic children’s speech acts be described as resembling younger typically developing children?

How is the parent’s use of language related to children with Autism’s behavior? Specifically, can the pattern of unresponsiveness seen in children with autism be related to parental behaviors? Also, do parents of autistic children differ in their use of speech acts when compared to those parents of language delayed and normally developing children of the same age?

This study included three groups of children and their parents. The groups were split in to a group of developmentally language delayed children, a group of children with autism and a group of normally developing children. Each child was seen for a developmental evaluation in which a nonverbal mental age was calculated, 1 hour of free play and structured play and a developmental history was collected on the first session. During the second section each child was videotaped for 15 minutes during free play with one parent. The child and parent were given access to toys, games and puzzles.

A 5 minute sample of the free play was then coded by identifying gestures as well as verbal behaviors that were communicative by the children. The parents were also coded, and it was evident that gestures were almost never not accompanied by an utterance. The occurrence of communicative gestures and verbal behaviors was then studied.

The results of this study found that initiations and the use of gestures formed a significantly lower percentage of acts for the group of children with autism compared to the other two groups. However, there were no significant differences found in the amount of verbalizations used. Some significant differences found in the kinds of communicative acts found were in the use of affirming, turn taking vocalizations, negating, instrumental responses and no-responses. The group with children who had autism had more “no” responses but used affirming and turn taking vocalizations less often that the other two groups. The parents of children with autism initiated a significantly greater percentage then the other two groups. One interesting finding was that children with autism had a higher percentage of acts that served to continue the conversation compared to the other two groups. That indicates that although children with autism may have trouble with initiating they are able to respond much easier.

Discussion:I was interested to read this article to learn what the authors discovered was the relationship between adult communication with children with autism compared to children without. I can’t say that I am surprised at the findings. In my personal experience with working with children with Autism I have learned that although they may have difficulty initiating a conversation or choosing an appropriate topic to initiate, they are able to respond with more success when the conversation is started by someone else. It also isn’t surprising that parents of children with Autism initiate conversations more often because obviously that is an area of weakness for their child. What were your all thoughts when reading the article?

Tech Tuesday

Courtney Brock shares:

I have been using my ipad in several ways since the donation!  The first app that I have downloaded is Bitsboard.  There is a free version, but I paid for the Pro edition at $19.99.  You can use the preset boards that range from vocabulary to pronouns to sequencing and everything in between.  For each board that you choose to work on, you can select flashcards, explore, photo touch, true or false, genius, memory cards, quiz, matching, word builder, spelling, bingo and trace it games.  I really like to make new boards to go along

with literacy units.  Here is one that I did recently:

We discussed the differences between city/town and country.  I created a board with photographs depicting either the city or the country.  I created flashcards with vocabulary such as SUBWAY, TAXI, SKYSCRAPER, FARM, TRACTOR, etc that we practiced prior to reading the book.  When creating flashcards, you can either use a photograph from your device or search from web images.

While reading the book, the students located pictures/scenes that they learned from the flashcards.

After reading the book, you could try another option to check comprehension.  Quizizz is a website/app that you create comprehension questions in a multiple choice format.  The great thing about using this multiplayer format is that everyone can respond at the same time using different devices (phone, tablet, laptop).  The students enjoy the competition and the cute memes that go along with responses.

Miranda Rights Comprehension in Young Adults With Specific Language Impairment

By: Gwyneth C. Rost and Karla K. McGregor

Discussed by: Wesley Hockenbury

This article dealt with whether or not adults with SLI had a more difficult time understanding Miranda warnings given to them in comparison with typically developing peers. The authors were concerned with the overrepresentation of language impairments in people in our courts and prisons (Blanton & Dagenais, 2007) and were interested to see if those with SLI could understand their legal rights and comprehend the language used within the Miranda warnings. The study defined SLI as a language impairment in the absence of cognitive or neurological  impairment. Due to the fact that individuals with SLI have impairments in both the expression and comprehension of verbal and written language. The average Miranda warning is written at a 6th-7th grade level (Rogers, Harrison, Shuman, Sewell & Hazelwood, 2007). As Miranda warnings must be given in both written and oral forms, it was hypothesized that adults with SLI would have a more difficult time understanding their Miranda rights in comparison to their peers. Furthermore, the authors predicted that those with SLI would score lower than TD peers on three different areas of Miranda comprehension:

  1. Syntax deficits would impede their comprehension of sentence structures
  2. Weak lexicons would impede comprehension of specific words and concepts
  3. Poor pragmatic language would affect the ability to respond appropriately in interrogations

The study looked at 34 individuals aged 18-25, 17 were typically developing and 17 were labeled as SLI. All participants were high school graduates who were attending postsecondary education. None of the participants had been arrested previously. Participants were administered the TOAL (Test of Adolescent and Adult Language)-4 to verify SLI diagnoses and given the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale-III to determine normal nonverbal IQ. Participants were then assessed given the Instruments  for Assessing Understanding and Appreciation of Miranda Rights (Grisso, 1998). The assessment consists of 3 subtests:

  1. Comprehension of Miranda Rights-participants reword each of four statements that are typical to Miranda warnings.
  2. Comprehension of Miranda Vocabulary-participants are asked to define seven key words that are consistent with Miranda warnings.
  3. Function of Rights in Interrogation-participants are asked to apply the rights to series about the individuals who are being interrogated.

All responses for the assessment are required to be expressive. The responses of participants were recorded and scored by two examiners who did not know what the participants diagnoses were. Two participants in TD group and 13 participants in the SLI group fell below the test cutoff of ability to adequately understand a Miranda warning. The results of the study showed a correlation between the TOAL-4 scaled scores and the scores obtained on the Instruments for Assessing Understanding and Appreciation of Miranda Rights, showing a relationship between one’s language abilities and their ability to understand their rights given through a Miranda warning. The SLI group preformed somewhat lower than TD peers in their ability to paraphrase Miranda sentences, but performed significantly lower than TD peers in their ability to define vocabulary within Miranda sentences and apply Miranda rights to hypothetical situations.

I found the article as whole interesting as I had never really thought about one’s inability to understand Miranda warnings and the impact that could have on one’s constitutional rights. In fact, I had never really given Miranda warnings much thought at all. While the findings of the study may not be surprising, I did think they were worth researching and reporting on. The authors made an argument for clinicians to address Miranda understanding within the clinical setting through therapy goals, as well as to reach out to law enforcement to educate about SLI and how to ensure citizens with SLI understand their rights. After reading the article, I do think they make a valid argument for this. What do you guys think?