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We’ve Moved!

Hello, thank you for visiting the Communication Therapy blog! 

Jordan Sadler, MS, CCC/SLP is now blogging on her new website. You can go straight to the new blog here – and please be sure to update your bookmarks and RSS feeds so you don’t miss anything!

Thanks again!

ImageAt Communication Therapy we are proud and excited to announce the launch of the brand-new Flummox and Friends pilot episode this week! Our show was created, written, and produced by Christa Dahlstrom, parent of an 8-year old son with Asperger’s, and co-created by Communication Therapy speech-language pathologists Liesl Wenzke-Hartmann and Jordan Sadler. It was designed to be a clever, live-action TV show for kids who could use some help learning about social rules and emotional regulation.

“What we love about Flummox and Friends is that it teaches kids WHY we care about social competence. Our message is not, ‘Look at others and listen to them just because we say so’, but rather, ‘When we listen to others and connect with their ideas as well as ours, other people feel good and understand that we are thinking about them and like them – that’s the basis of friendship,'” explains Sadler, MS, CCC-SLP from the Chicago office.

“There are products targeting social emotional teaching on the market,” explains Wenzke-Hartmann, MA, CCC-SLP, from the San Francisco office. “But it’s hard to find something that adults and children can really enjoy together. This show gives families kid-friendly language to demystify and normalize social challenges, showing that everyone is ‘flummoxed’ by social rules at one time or another.”

Funds to produce a pilot episode were raised ten months ago through a successful grassroots Kickstarter campaign. Now, just five days after launching online, Flummox and Friends has been viewed more than 2,000 times by extraordinarily enthusiastic parents, kids, adults with autism, teachers, and therapists who are hoping we will receive funding to create the entire series. 

Please help ensure future episodes by following us on Facebook and Twitter and sharing the link to the show with your friends, colleagues, and families. Spreading the word is the best way to show potential investors that there is a strong desire and need for a teaching tool like this!

Here are just a few of the messages we’ve received from viewers this week:

I run a charity in Scotland supporting children with Autism and Aspergers Syndrome as well as being the mum of a 9 year with Aspergers, he absolutely loved the show and I am delighted to share this with the families we support! Well done!

My 9yo son just watched this and he LOVED it.  He asked to watch the next one, which you have not made yet.  So, he asked to watch the pilot again, but that will have to wait until after school today.  He is still humming the tune from the show.  

Great show! Very engaging and upbeat messages. Please continue to present more episodes, I am going to share your information with some of the school staff I work with at my son’s school. He is in the Autism program at his elementary school.

This is long overdue! Finally, someone is tapping into the fact that learning starts with empathy and self-awareness, not with the content. I really loved the pilot. I am already imagining ways of integrating this show in my classes, both as a teacher and a teacher trainer. I just wish there was a subtitles option! (Not all of my students speak English that well.) – Anjie Price, English teacher (Nicaragua) [Note: we will release a version with captioning in a few weeks! Watch our Facebook page for the announcement.]

To watch our acclaimed pilot episode, please visit our website. We would appreciate it if you would complete the brief survey on the website as well, and please download a Family Guide or Professional Guide pdf while you’re there, they are full of great activity suggestions and visuals for you!

Links to early reviews:

New TV Project Uses Comedy to Help Kids on – or Near – the Autism Spectrum by Laura Shumaker, SFGate blog

Flummox and Friends Premieres its Smart Social Competence Programming by Jean Winegardner, The Washington Times Communities

Flummox and Friends by Sean Sweeney, CCC/SLP, SpeechTechie blog

Flummox and Friends Video: Our New Favorite Thing by Amanda Backof, MS, CCC/SLP, Speech Language Neighborhood blog

Stay tuned here for future developments!

 

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It is fair to say that, on occasion, the tech-savvy speech-language pathologists at Communication Therapy in Chicago become obsessed with an iPad app. This summer, that app is PaperDesk*. We love this app because it is a fantastic tool for us to use clinically in our pediatric practice and in our “behind-the-scenes” work as therapists. We want to share with you why we love this app and to let you know that it is currently only $3.99 in the iTunes App Store, a 75% savings. (There is a Lite version of this app, but at this price, it’s worth buying, so you’ll have the extra space and features.) Read more about it, be sure to look at the images the developer has shared, and link to purchase the app here.

First, a quick description of Paper Desk. While we have tried various note-taking apps, this is our favorite, hands-down. The developers have created an interface that closely resembles a pad of paper and allows us to type, write, draw, and even record our voices as we are creating a document. The app has 58 fonts to choose from, and it is very easy to change font, color, and style, while typing. What is also impressive is the way PaperDesk allows us to quickly switch to the drawing feature. Insert a photo into the document easily by taking a new one from the camera within the app or choosing an existing picture from the iPad’s photo library. When we are finished with a notebook we have many sharing options (email, Twitter, Google, Dropbox, iTunes, print). We especially love that we can set our iPads to autosync between PaperDesk and Dropbox – this means that all of our work is also accessible on our laptops and even our iPhones at any time.

Clinical Uses: We are only just beginning to explore the clinical uses of PaperDesk with our clients. Certainly, it is an easy way to write and save a play plan or visual schedule for a child in a session. It’s an easy way to add visual aids for a child who benefits from them to aid language comprehension. But we are also loving it for writing quick social stories with our kids. Children love to write stories about themselves and their experiences, and they adore shifting back and forth between typing and drawing – not to mention inserting photos of themselves into a notebook! When a child was processing his family’s move to a new house last week, SLP Adria Leno sat down with him and wrote a terrific story with him about what he was experiencing. They drew pictures, typed text, and inserted pictures showing how he felt about the changes. Adria printed the story for the boy wirelessly from the iPad, and he took it home to read again and again and share his experience and feelings with others. Further, she was able to use the email feature to send a PDF copy to his parents in case it gets lost. Next we will try using the recording feature to have a child tell the story for each page of his notebook.

“Behind-the-Scenes” Uses: We are experimenting with using PaperDesk to assist us in collecting information for our treatment notes. Jordan Sadler, SLP and Clinic Director, has created a folder for each of her clients within the app. Each folder is given the child’s initials for privacy. Jordan starts a new notebook for each session, titling it with the date of service. Data collection, notes on progress, thoughts for the next session, and even photos of the child engaging in new and interesting experiences she wants to remember are collected in the notebook. At the end of a busy day seeing clients, having this collection of text and visuals make writing treatment notes for the client files simple, and are more interesting to share in a parent meeting than a typical verbal report on progress or brief treatment notes that are designed for insurance company reviews. Although she was worried that using an iPad to take notes in this way would be too distracting for her clients, this has never been the case. The children see that she is not playing a game and don’t pay any attention to the device.

Further, at the recent 2-day Profectum Academy conference she attended in the Chicago area, Jordan used PaperDesk to collect all information that pertained to the event. First, she created a folder titled “Profectum”, then set up a notebook for each of the two days’ notes and filed them in that folder. Rather than handwriting her notes while listening to the speakers, she used a stylus to jot down notes quickly in that day’s notebook. At this conference, all handouts were provided to participants via email in PDF form. When Jordan opened that email on the iPad, these PDF documents had the option to be “saved in PaperDesk” and then filed in the Profectum folder as well. In this way, all presentation documents and participant notes were filed in the same folder in PaperDesk. And remember, Jordan can now access those from her laptop and even her iPhone via Dropbox at any time – extremely handy!

We hope this review will be useful to many parents, clinicians, and teachers – we think this app is well worth adding to your iPads. If you have it, please leave us a comment about how you’re using it!

 

*Although we frequently receive free apps from developers, we have no relationship with WebSpinner, LLC, the creator of PaperDesk.

How I'm Feeling

 

Here in the Chicago office that houses Communication Therapy and Chicago P.L.A.Y. Project we are very excited about our work using iPad apps with children with special needs! We have plenty of information to share with you, no matter where you are.

In the Chicago area?

Consultations: Not certain if the iPad is the perfect tool for your child or student? Considering purchasing one as an augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) device but unsure if your child will “take to it” – and which voice output app to purchase? Set up an appointment at the clinic by calling 773-988-0820 to schedule a visit! We’ll show you the best of what’s out there and try apps with your child – and you’ll get our recommendations in writing.

Workshops: Bring us to your school, clinic, or organization for one of our popular “I Have an iPad…Now What?” workshops where we share everything from our favorite tried and true apps to tips on using them with kids – plus peripherals like styluses, paintbrushes, and the best cases for kids! For information on where we will be presenting to the general public next, watch this board. And if you’d like to have us come to you, call us at 773-988-0820 to schedule.

Outside Chicago?

In addition to using these terrific apps with our own clients, we are committed to sharing current information about technology with interested families, clinicians, and teachers around the world.

Readers can find our useful, up-to-the-minute information in many online locations today!

Here’s where to go:

1. Facebook Pages – Be part of the fun! “Like” the Communication Therapy and Chicago PLAY Project pages, where we share relevant information on a regular basis.

2. Facebook Group – Join our Facebook group! iPad Apps and Info for Kids with Special Needs. With over 200 members in just a week, this group is bustling!

3. Pinterest – Sometimes words aren’t enough – we like pictures, too! Follow the Communication Therapy PInterest boards, where you’ll get visuals of our favorite peripherals, apps, and even upcoming iPad App workshops!

4. Twitter – Communication Therapy has nearly 900 Twitter followers at this time – follow us and you’ll see why! We share great articles and other important information related to AAC, iPads, Autism, and Speech Language Therapy.

5. iPad Apps for Autism: A Spreadsheet of Reviews and Recommendations – Created by Shannon Des Roches Rosa with review contributions by Corina Becker and Communication Therapy’s Jordan Sadler, the Spreadsheet was noted in the New York Times Gadgetwise blog as one of the best sources of excellent apps online!

Today was the long-awaited Neighborhood Parents Network Developmental Differences Resource Fair. The first of its kind in Chicago, the Fair – free to parents – featured a room full of exhibitors that included private practitioners (speech, OT, developmental therapists, music and art therapists, social workers, psychologists) as well as representatives from some local large public organizations such as the Chicago Public Schools Office of Special Education and Supports.

Specialists were available to talk to parents about their programs and services and had the opportunity to answer initial questions in a face-to-face manner that is not often available to parents. Further, clinicians were able to network with each other through the course of the four hour event.

Jordan Sadler, MS, CCC/SLP was assisted at the Communication Therapy table by staff therapist Erin Vollmer, MS, CCC/SLP, and undergraduate intern Kate Gilday.  It was a pleasure to meet so many parents and discuss their child’s needs and the best services to meet them.

We want to thank three developers of high quality, child-tested iPad apps for donating codes to us for this event. A huge thank you goes out to Injini, Mobile-Education Store, and BeeVisual. Winners have been notified by email and those who weren’t chosen have received emails with links allowing them to purchase the featured apps if they’d like.

Here’s what we raffled off today:

Injini’s Child Development Suite for iPad – A collection of high quality learning games for the developmentally young. Beautifully designed app that targets cause and effect, patterns, early receptive language, and much more! This is a favorite among our young clients and really wowed the crowd at the Fair today. Children loved exploring it while we chatted with their parents!

BeeVisual’s ChoiceWorks universal app – We were able to give away 5 codes for ChoiceWorks today, and this was another very popular app at the event. New on the app scene, ChoiceWorks is an inclusive app that allows the user to create individualized schedule boards, help a child with self-regulatory skills like waiting or taking turns, and deal with challenging emotions. It’s beautifully designed and intuitive for new users. Parents of my clients are also loving the companion books that go with each activity, which are terrific social stories!

From Mobile Education Store, we gave away codes for three different apps that we use consistently in our language therapy sessions and find to be excellent:

LanguageBuilder – Helps children ages 3-10 improve sentence formation and improve receptive and expressive language development.

StoryBuilder - Helps students ages 6-10+ improve paragraph formation and integration of ideas, improve higher level abstract thinking and inference skills. Great for working on narratives.

ConversationBuilder – Teaches multi-exchange conversations with peers in a variety of social settings to students ages 6-10. “Freeze frames” social scenarios for kids to consider what they would say or do to enter into play or conversation.

More recommended apps and iPad peripherals are yet to come in the next couple of months!

2011 Ends with a Bang!

These last few weeks have been very exciting ones for Communication Therapy!

First, on November 28, 2011, our Flummox & Friends Kickstarter project was fully funded! (For more information on this project, read all about it here.) The project met its funding goal 10 days before its deadline; by the end, $33,761 was raised. Amazing! We are grateful to all of our generous supporters, and we will be sure to post an update when the pilot episode is being filmed – we can hardly wait!

The next day, on November 29, Jordan Sadler, MS, CCC/SLP of  the Chicago office was mentioned in a New York Times article which provided information for parents on resources for finding the best apps for children with autism. The article, which provides a few excellent links to resources for families, can be found here.

Next up – also very exciting!! – on Monday, December 19th, a fantastic new book called Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism went on sale. The book contains an essay by Jordan Sadler, MS, CCC/SLP called, “What a Great Speech-Language Pathologist Can Do for Your Child with Autism”, which can also be found here, on the Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism blog.

And, last but certainly not least, the Chicago office has two new therapists on staff! We are thrilled to welcome Adria Leno, MS, CCC-SLP and Erin Vollmer, MS, CCC-SLP. Both are excellent, experienced clinicians and we are so pleased to have them on our team. You can read more about them here.

We hope everyone has had a holiday filled with joy and laughter, and we wish each of you a very Happy New Year!


This morning I find that my email inbox, Twitter feed, and Facebook status updates are flooded with the words “Black Friday”. Every office supply store I’ve ever ordered from, in addition to the pet store where I buy dog food and even local non-profits trying to sell more memberships, would like me to take advantage of their HUGE SALES today.

While I am not opposed to saving some money on things that might normally be out of reach, there are other things that need our time, attention, and – yes – money this weekend.

You see, tucked between emails from the retail stores this morning was a message from Kickstarter – you know, the fundraising website where we are working to raise money for our pilot episode of Flummox & Friends - and what that email told us was that we crossed a major milestone this morning: 299 generous backers have now pledged $25,025 towards our $30,000 goal. That, readers, is amazing!

We have exactly 14 days – just two weeks! – to raise $5,000. If we make it, we will be able to shoot the pilot episode of this hilarious, live-action show designed for the quirky kids in our lives to see characters they can relate to — bright, interesting people who find themselves confused and confounded by social situations and the rules that govern them. Perhaps you’ve struggled like this, or someone who passed you the gravy yesterday still does. But if we don’t raise this last $5,000 in the next 14 days, we will not get any of the money. That is how Kickstarter works.

For more information on the show, visit our website or come on over here and take a look at this summary of what people around the web are saying about Flummox & Friends.

I encourage readers to consider our little project – which some have referred to as the Little Project That Could – on this Black Friday. Because we need your help to make it happen – and we suspect you’ll feel especially good about Black Friday if you share a little of your hard-earned money helping Professor Flummox, Wanda, and Milo come to life.

C’mon over – watch our video and help us out today.

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