8 Top Apps for Autistic Learners

By Margo Pierce
re-posted from 12/05/11

Mobile technology and apps enable those who have special needs to function more freely and effectively in the classroom and out into the world.

Maureen Watson, the mother of two children “on the autism spectrum,” says apps on mobile devices have changed the world for her sons, ages 17 and 14. Starting with the iPod Touch, Watson migrated to iPads.

“A big problem is trying to get my other kids or family or friends or people to want to communicate with the boys,” she said. “My two sons were the first to get the iPad. Now these kids, who are not normally the cool, in-kids, everybody wanted to be around them and play with them and use the devices.”

One benefit is portability. Family members can download apps to their phones, making communicating at a restaurant or at a park as simple as taking out the phone.

Watson’s sons attend Giant Steps School in Southport, Connecticut, which uses mobile devices and apps to expand and improve the quality of education.

In the following slideshow, Watson and Lindajeanne Schwartz, Giant Steps’ head of school and program administrator, share their favorite apps for autistic learners. Continue reading "8 Top Apps for Autistic Learners"

Gathering Drum

Group & Private Music Therapy for Individuals with Special Needs

Phone Number: 215 570 9421
Serving Montgomery, Bucks, Philadelphia Counties

SERVICES:  Music therapy is a valuable addition to the armamentarium of therapy/instruction for individuals with special needs. It enhances social interaction and has myriad developmental benefits.

Founder and opera singer, Elizabeth Collins Cook

Gathering Drum is unique among music therapy providers it was founded by a professional opera singer, Elizabeth Collins Cook. While raising her family of four, Elizabeth observed how learning to play the piano increased the social opportunities and skills of one of her students diagnosed with Autism and PDD. She was so impressed that Elizabeth decided to change careers. She obtained her Master’s degree in Creative Arts Therapies. She is now a board certified music therapist providing music therapy to families and agencies caring for individuals with special needs.

Making music and participating in a conversation require the same skill set: listening, responding, and awareness of others, reading non-verbal cues, impulse control and frustration management, modulation of energy, self-expression, self-assertion and creative thinking. For individuals facing social challenges, music therapy sessions are opportunities to safely practice these skills. Skills strengthened in music transfer over time to non-music settings. Continue reading "Gathering Drum"

Thorncroft Equestrian Center

Horses and people are their specialty.

190 Line Road
Malvern, PA 19355
Phone  610.644.1963

Their Mission is to help build the physical, emotional and mental well-being of all people, particularly those with special needs, through establishing an atmosphere of cooperation, respect and love in an equestrian environment.

Thorncroft specializes in therapeutic horseback riding for mentally, emotionally and physically disabled children and adults, including training for those interested in learning this profession. Since 1971, the movement of the horse has been studied at Thorncroft. Scientific studies of hippotherapy, biomechanics, and equine physiology have been hosted at the farm. Through these studies, and with first hand experience it was determined that the movement of the horse teaches the human body the correct motion of walking. Students who have never learned to walk correctly and those who come to us after a traumatic accident benefit from this therapy. This extraordinary experience provides balance, strength, mobility, and improved self esteem. The benefits are limitless.


MOVEing Creations

Fine Arts and Stationery crafted from elements of nature.

Erie Homes for Children and Adults, Inc.

Making Opportunities for Volunteerism & Exploration (MOVE) is EHCA’s community-based day support program, which is funded through Home & Community Habilitation Services or through private pay. It is designed to give adults with developmental disabilities successful experiences by providing them with real choices and opportunities to be involved in their community. Through unique partnerships formed with numerous local organizations, MOVE participants complete meaningful, productive volunteer work and participate in social clubs and community functions. Focusing on individual ability, participation may be done independently or with the aid of communication devices, adaptive equipment and/or hands-on help from EHCA staff.

Meaningful Activities

Dance and visual arts programs allow participants to be involved in creative arts. They also have been able to expand their interests and opportunities with a small business venture of their own – MOVEing Creations. Their handmade, dried floral prints have been sold at local art fairs and auctioned off at fundraising events.

Community Involvement

MOVE is involved in social and community events. Participants are active in clubs and classes. MOVE participants also volunteer at daycare facilities, nursing homes, social service agencies, thrift stores, libraries, animal shelters and schools.

Air-Pumped Mascot Costumes Turn Autistic Kids Into Outgoing Entertainers

Original Article By Ben Paynter

In 1985, after two decades of running and then owning 20,000-head cattle feedlots in Kansas and Oklahoma, Lee Bowen sold everything and moved his family to Omaha. The youngest of his five kids, 18-month-old Katy, was deaf—she’d had meningitis—and Bowen wanted to get her into the Boys Town National Research Hospital program on childhood hearing loss.

So the family pulled up stakes,planning to live off the proceeds of the sale of Bowen’s business and focus on taking care of Katy. At 47, Bowen was tired of the cattle business. He was looking for a gig that would surprise him. “I wanted to do something that I would enjoy, that would be fun and had no debt and no overhead,” he says.

Not that he was slowing down. Bowen threw himself into a new job that tapped into his entrepreneurial streak: fund-raising chairman for the local YMCA. He soon found himself prowling the booths at a trade show in Chicago, on the hunt for cheap, effective advertising tactics that he might put to use for the Y. Continue reading "Air-Pumped Mascot Costumes Turn Autistic Kids Into Outgoing Entertainers"

Treasures Forever

Thrift Store Helping Those With Special Needs

531 York Road
Warminster, PA 18974
Phone:     215-962-6403

Hours of Operation:
10am – 3pm Tue., Thu., Fri., Sat.

Products:   Treasures Forever Thrift Store sells gently used clothing, toys, furniture, household goods, collectibles, sports equipment, pictures, and a variety of other gently used items.

Treasures Forever, Inc. is a Not-for-Profit 501 (c) (3) charitable organization established for the benefit of Special Needs members of the community.  The Thrift Store enables Special Needs volunteers and students the opportunity to learn the various aspects of operating and maintaining a business.  It is anticipated that the organization will establish an educational center staffed by volunteer teachers that will provide continuing education to those Special Needs individuals that no longer participate in the public school system. This will afford them the ability to continue to enhance their skills and abilities in order to become productive members of our community.

iPods Help Kids with Asperger’s Syndrome

Minneapolis has a center that is experimenting with iPods and using them to assist kids with Asperger’s syndrome, bringing hope to both the kids and their parents.

One of the features of persons who have Asperger’s syndrome is a struggle with social skills, one’s that seem to come naturally to others. At the center, Sue Pederson is aware of some teenage boys who have trouble with making conversation; they might not know what to talk about, or having started talking, they do not know when to stop.

Sue, a psychologist, and her colleagues at the Fraser Child & Family Center in Minneapolis found a new way to reach students. That way was through the use of iPods that play music and videos in order to teach them how to interact. The iPods may have begun as a form of entertainment, but Sue says the technology turned into an unexpected plus for children and teenagers with special needs. iPods can be packed with the forms of information that these kids need to get through their day. Even though the center is still experimenting with the use of iPods in this way, Sue says, “I think it’s going to spread like wildfire.” Continue reading "iPods Help Kids with Asperger’s Syndrome"

Sensory Friendly Movie: AMC Entertainment & Autism Society

Rise of the Guardians

December 9, 2012 (10:00AM – 12:00PM)

AMC Entertainment and the Autism Society of America have teamed up to bring families affected by autism a special opportunity to enjoy their favorite films in a safe and accepting environment on a monthly basis.

With Sensory Friendly Films, the movie auditoriums will have their lights brought up and the sound turned down.

The “Silence is Golden” rule will not be enforced. People can talk, stim, jump, sing, do anything that they need to. It is designed to be a friendly supportive atmosphere.

There will be no previews or ads. Arrive on time. The movie will start at 10.

There will be a quiet theater available that has no movie running. If someone would like a break they can go to that nearby theater to unwind.

You can bring in your own food.

Enjoy the movie!
Patti Erickson
Greater Philadelphia Chapter
Autism Society of America

Visit  Autism Society website for updated movie schedule.

New Locations Added:

24 AMC Painters Crossing 9
112 Wilmington Pike
West Chester, PA 19382

AMC Franklin Mills 14
1149 FranklinMills Circle
Philadelphia, PA 19154

AMC Neshaminy 24
3900 Rockhill Dr.
Bensalem, PA 19020

AMC Tilghman Square 8
4608 Broadway
Allentown, PA 18104

AMC Cherry Hill
2121 Route 38
Cherry Hill, NJ 08002

AMC Hamilton
325 Sloan Avenue
Hamilton, NJ 08619