Thoughts from the Field: Engaging the Autism Community at OCALI & ASHA

34 blog avatar Thoughts from the Field: Engaging the Autism Community at OCALI & ASHA
Expert Name: Julie Roumeliote
Expert Title: Julie Roumeliote
Company Name:  Special Learning, Inc.
Company URL: www.special-learning.com
Short Bio: Julie Roumeliote is the communications manager at Special Learning.

She received her bachelor’s degree in communications from The Ohio State University. Prior to working at Special Learning, Julie was as an in-home independent provider for children with autism spectrum

Thoughts from the Field: Engaging the Autism Community at OCALI & ASHA

Last week was an exciting one for Special Learning and our sister agency, Step By Step, as we were able to participate in two major conferences that benefit the autism community, including OCALI and the ASHA Convention.

At the annual OCALI conference in Columbus, Ohio, where we exhibited and presented, we were pleased with the turn out that we saw in the exhibition halls, research symposium and thematic break-out sessions. Our experts were able to talk to members in the educational community including teachers, administrators, aides, and therapy providers who gave us valuable information to help strengthen our pursuit of providing the best possible solutions for educators, who continue to work tirelessly to offer superior service to individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

As innovators and developers of comprehensive evidence-based products and services that are specifically designed to meet the needs of the growing population of individuals with ASD, it is essential for us to know what the community needs to better service this population. By meeting with them and sharing information, we learned more about their specific needs, including the need for products and services geared toward transitioning adolescents into adulthood. We’ve had our hand on the pulse of this growing need prior to OCALI, but by talking with people who serve these individuals on a daily basis, we were able to narrow down their needs as to what tools will help them educate and assist individuals in becoming more successful and functioning adults.

The ASHA convention provided Special Learning with the opportunity to engage with the nation’s top speech and hearing professionals who are committed to making a difference in the lives of all individuals with hearing and speech difficulties. As developers of touch technology applications that aid in communication and social skills, we are constantly adapting to the needs of the autism community in efforts to provide the best solutions. Hearing the experiences of speech pathologists as they assist
individuals in learning to communicate effectively allows us to further our product development to meet these needs.

Special Learning was also thrilled to have the opportunity to give OCALI & ASHA participants a sneak peak at our Transition Curriculum, a comprehensive planning guide, lesson plan and workbook for adolescents with autism or other disabilities. In response to the needs of these individuals and those who are teaching them the skills necessary, we have designed this curriculum to teach all of the functional living skills necessary to navigate adulthood successfully. In addition to transition planning, we also presented conference participants with a sneak peek at the first of a series of social stories designed for the adolescent and young adult population, which addresses the topics of human development, sexuality and puberty. We are excited to give educators, parents and providers the tools to cover this difficult topic and help increase understanding and knowledge in the individuals that they service, and the feedback we received was encouraging.

Special Learning will debut its full transition curriculum in 2013 and release a series of human development and sexuality social stories at the beginning of the new year. Please check our website for more exciting product releases, or write to contact@special-learning.com for more information.

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Being an RBT for me was extremely fun because where were you going to find a place where you can be completely silly without having to worry what people thought about you? This was the only job that made me feel like I could make a dramatic difference while being myself.

I also liked to be surrounded by people that had the same goals of wanting to help kids and the teamwork made the job much easier and more enjoyable.

Change and progress was the ultimate goal for our kiddos. The early intervention program was seriously only a miracle because I saw changes in the kiddos that from day one, you wouldn’t even recognize who they were.

Changes from being able to utter 3-4 words where they can only make a syllable from when they started, the behavior decreases in which kiddo that used to engage in 30-40 0 self-harm to only half, learning how to wait during games, table work where they use to swipe and drop to the floor if they had to.

My favorite was when the parents would tell us what amazing progress they were making at home. I used to tear up and felt for these parents so much because it was already difficult for them and now, they can trust and rely on ABA and the therapists knowing their goal was ours.

By Emma Rogers, BA, RBT

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