Mar 2012

Interview with The Social Express

blogEntryThumbnailI am pleased to have Marc Zimmerman and his company The Social Express participate in an interview. The Social Express™ is engaging, educational software for children and young adults with social learning challenges. The software - available for iPad, Mac, and PC - is designed to teach users how to think about and manage social situations, helping them to develop meaningful social relationships and succeed in life. The iPad app for The Social Express™ is being offered at a promotional rate of $44.99 through the end of April, celebrating Autism Awareness month. That’s 50% off the introductory price of $89.99!

I asked Marc and his company to answer five questions regarding The Social Express™. Below are the questions that were answered:

What was your company's inspiration for creating The Social Express?
The founders Marc and Tina Zimmerman are parents of identical twin boys who were diagnosed 10 years ago with Autism. Teaching them social awareness has always been their #1 goal. Their inspiration came when a therapist introduced her laptop into therapy. The twins were very interested in the technology but the program was not holding their attention. That’s the day they chatted about leveraging technology with engaging content.

What kind of research was done to create the content in The Social Express?
According to the content director Mary Anne MacLellan, M.A., CCC-SLP, The Social Express™ is based on best practices and programs that feature cognitive behavioral techniques and visual strategies. The lessons presented in the software adhere to California State Board of Education Content Standards and the Common Core Standards. References incorporated in The Social Express™ include the following:

Buron, K.D., & Curtis, M. (2004). The Incredible 5 Point Scale: Assisting students with autism spectrum disorders in understanding social interactions and controlling their emotions. Shawnee Mission, KS: Autism Asperger Publishing Company.

Crooke, P., Hendrix, R., Rachman, J. (2007). Brief Report: Measuring the Effectiveness of Teaching Social Thinking® to Children with Asperger Syndrome (AS) and High Functioning Autism (HFA). Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders. Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Gray, C. (2010). The new social story book: Revised and expanded 10th anniversary edition. Arlington, TX: Future Horizons Inc.

Gray, C. (1994). Comic Strip Conversations. Jenison, MI: Jenison Public Schools.

Myles, B.S., Trautman, M.L, Schelvan, R.L., (2004) The Hidden Curriculum: Practical Solutions for Understanding Unstated Rules in Social Situations. Shawnee Mission, KS: Autism Asperger Publishing Company.

Williams, M.S., & Shellenberger, S. (1994). “How does your engine run?” A leader’s guide to the alert program for self-regulation. Albuquerque, NM: TherapyWorks, Inc.-the Alert Program

Winner, M.G. (2005). Think Social! San Jose, CA: Think Social Publishing Inc.

Winner, M.G. (2007). Thinking about YOU Thinking about ME. San Jose, CA: Think Social Publishing Inc.

Winner, M.G. (2008). A Politically Incorrect Look at Evidence-Based Practices and Teaching Social Skills: A literature review and discussion. San Jose, CA: Think Social Publishing Inc.

Zins, J. (2004). Building Academic Success on Social and Emotional Learning: What Does The Research Say? New York: Teacher’s College Press.

How did your team collaborate to create The Social Express?
There were over 20 people collaborating on this project. Skype, conference calls, and personal interaction is how the team stayed in touch.

How did The Social Express fill any kind of void in the app market?
In addition to using a cognitive behavioral approach, it has been stated that The Social Express is the highest quality production app made to date. The company exhausted it’s resources to present animation that meets Hollywood’s standards and content that would be effective in teaching people social-emotional skills.

Describe a success story using The Social Express with a child.
Mandy Nite, the creator of Welcome to Their World blog, shares encouraging results about her young daughter’s progress since working with The Social Express. Nite posted the following assessment on her blog: “This app has everything imaginable about social skills learning except Nite’s daughter, who will turn eight years old soon, has significant social skill problems, high functioning autism and ADHD.  Nite explains that after her daughter completed just half of The Social Express lessons, “She is starting to use what she learned in The Social Express in the real-world.”Nite continues, “I’m amazed everyday by the progress she’s made. She has even started to talk with other children one on one slowly with a little prompting and a few reminders of social skills but is getting the hang of it.”

CUE Live 2012

I was honored to recently present at the CUE Conference as a spotlight speaker. During the conference on Friday, March 16th, I was asked to participate in a CUE Live interview with Mark Hammons. The video interview above includes a memorable experience using Proloquo2Go with one of my students, and my favorite apps for special needs with a mention of my app, ArtikPix. Check it out!

iTunes gift certificate giveaway

blogEntryThumbnailGiveaway time! This one is for 3, $10 iTunes gift certificates to be used on apps, music, movies, etc. in the iTunes store.

Please complete the following two steps now to become eligible for the giveaway:
1. Like my Facebook page at
2. Comment on this post

Winners will be selected on Sunday, March 18 at 5 PM PST. Three names will be randomly chosen using the Names in a Hat app, then announced on my Facebook page.

ASHAsphere best speech-language pathologist blogs

blogEntryThumbnailASHAsphere did a blog post today regarding the best speech-language pathologist blogs. I was honored to see my blog included in the short list. It's quite special knowing that my blog was selected by my peers using a stringent criteria. Thank you to those of you who chose my blog, and thank you to all my blog readers for following me. I'm definitely motivated to blog to continue sharing with all of you!

CUE Conference

blogEntryThumbnailI’m delighted to be presenting at the CUE Conference as a spotlight speaker. The conference will be held March 15 - 17 in Palm Springs, CA. If you’re planning to attend the event, please come to one or more of my sessions below. Not only will you learn a lot about iOS apps and devices for special needs, but you could also win cool stuff!

My CUE Conference sessions:

Friday, March 16, 2012 at 10:00 AM - 11:00 AM PST
Implementing iOS apps for communication: ArtikPix, Proloquo2Go, and Pictello
Hilton Hotel, Rm. Tapestry

Saturday, March 17, 2012 at 9:30 AM - 10:30 AM PST
iOS apps for AT
Hilton Hotel, Rm. Tapestry

Saturday, March 17, 2012 at 12:30 PM - 1:30 PM PST
iPad accessibility
Hilton Hotel, Rm. Tapestry

Interview with the Speech Ladies

blogEntryThumbnailI am pleased to have Cindy (right in the photo) and Kristina (left in the photo) Young - a mother-daughter pair of speech-language pathologists (SLPs) otherwise known as the Speech Ladies - participate in an interview. I interviewed Cindy and Kristina to learn more about them and their interests in the field of speech-language pathology. Cindy has been an SLP for about 31 years and has worked in the schools with kids in preschool through high school, as well as nursing homes, private practice and teaching undergrad classes at a local university. This is Kristina's first year in the schools and she is in the middle of her clinical fellowship year (CFY) as an SLP. Cindy and Kristina also co-author a blog at, where they share their experiences and insights in the world of speech language pathology.

Without further ado, below you will find five interview questions that Cindy and Kristina answered:

1. Why did you decide to become SLPs?

Cindy: As with most college students, I went through several career choices before discovering Speech Language Pathology. I was encouraged by a friend to shadow a lady at our local hospital that was an SLP. I did and I was captivated by the clients she saw and the rapport that she had established with the clients and their families. She also told me that the hospital was not the only setting for an SLP, so I then observed a SLP in a school setting. I was totally hooked and knew I had finally found something where I felt I could make a difference in the lives of others.

Kristina: It took me awhile to come to that decision. In college I had many different majors, but ultimately I knew I wanted to go into a service profession and my mom suggested speech language pathology. At first I was hesitant because all I knew of her job was that it included a lot of paperwork! However, I took a couple of classes and really enjoyed what I was learning. I was sure that speech was for me when I was able to enroll in an undergrad clinic class that allowed us to do direct therapy with clients. Though I’m still not big on the paperwork, I love getting to interact with my clients! I was also drawn to the field because I knew that once I graduated there would be a variety of job options.

2. What are the strengths of you being SLPs as a mother-daughter pair?

Cindy: Kristina keeps me up on the latest technology and has encouraged me to incorporate technology in therapy. She has just begun her first job and is very excited about being an SLP. Her enthusiasm is contagious! It is great to have someone to discuss ideas and brainstorm various approaches.

Kristina: The biggest strength for me is that I have a fabulous source of information right at my fingertips! I am able to call my mom at anytime to ask how she would handle a certain situation, tips for getting a child to produce a difficult sound, or questions about paperwork. I have a wonderful CF supervisor, but it is nice to have someone else to bounce ideas off of especially since she has so much more experience than I do.

3. What are the challenges of you being SLPs as a mother-daughter pair?

Cindy: So far we have not encountered any challenges.

Kristina: So far I can’t think of any big challenges we have faced. I think it helps that we work in different school systems. My mother is always very respectful of my opinion and is encouraging if I want to try out something new or different. She reminds me that there is always “more than one way to skin a cat”!

4. What's your favorite population to work with and why?

Cindy: I love the young ones. I spend most of my day dealing with preschool speech and language issues.

Kristina: My favorite population to work with is Pre-School to 5th grade. I just love the little ones! I think they are my favorite because they get so excited about anything. If I walk in and say today we are going to do speech therapy standing up, they are like “WOOHOO!” It is easy to get them motivated about good speech and language.

5. What's your favorite technology to use with students and why?

Cindy: The iPad has been my favorite. The device is portable and so far appears pretty indestructible. It has lots of versatile and affordable apps and many are even free. And, best of all the children love it!

Kristina: Right now I am loving my iPad! There are so many versatile apps to try out and it is easy to carry with me from school to school. I have also started using the promethean board with some of my language kids. The interactive whiteboard gives them a chance to be very interactive during the lessons and I hope that helps the material really sink in.