One in 68 Children has Autism

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Battling the winter blues? How visual supports can help!

February 16, 2015 3:00 pm Published by

It’s the dead of winter and for those of you living in the Northeast in particular, it’s been one winter! During these long, cold days it’s a good idea to have a snow day plan for you and your child with special needs. Consider the use of schedules and visual supports to help both YOU and your child when inclement weather keeps you indoors.  A basic schedule would include some of the things that need to get done paired with things you know your child would like to do. Set up your schedule so the fun activity follows the “chore”.  For example “First we brush our teeth”, then we “_______” (fill in fun activity here).  If your child reads he/she or you can write this out. If your child is better with pictures, it can look like this.  The picture of the activity can be drawn, copied, pasted etc in the corresponding box.






If you have an older child or a child that can manage a longer list, try a checklist. You can add a sticker, smiley face etc once each task is completed.   Here is an example.




In November, QSAC released a free ibook specifically designed to support families.  In this engaging, interactive ibook, Chapter 3 is dedicated to helping families manage home life specifically through the use of visual supports.  There are many examples of visuals in the chapter,  as well as apps and websites to help you organize the worst of snow days.  If you have an Apple computer or Ipad click to download for free


Don’t have an Ipad?  No worries.  Check out another great website with FREE printable resources such as calendars, sticker and job charts is


Take a deep breath…. winter can’t last forever.  In the meantime use these free resources to help get you through those snow days.  Chances are you will keep them in place because they really do help.




Some considerations when working on improving communication deficit

November 18, 2013 2:21 pm Published by

Children and adults diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder have persistent deficits in social communication and social interaction across multiple contexts as one of the symptoms. This impairment is usually manifested in lack of social-emotional reciprocity, poor integration of verbal and nonverbal communication and difficulties adjusting behavior to suit various social contexts. Delays in communication usually vary in severity ranging from monotone speech about preferred topic to a total absence of verbal communication. Often individuals with ASD do not effectively perform the single most important task of communication and language, and that is expressing their wants and needs (i.e. making requests, exhibiting mands) and, as a result, they have very little control over what happens to them in their daily lives.

Further, multiple researches has shown that communication impairment is correlated with an increased risk of challenging behavior and reduced opportunities for community involvement and therefore it is understandable why a huge amount of intervention research has focused on developing successful procedures for improving communication skills of individuals with ASD.

 In most cases, the traditional developmental model of language represents the basis for teaching communication and language skills, however in this model, the primary unit of communication and language is the word and words, signs, pictures, or symbols are taught without much regard to the circumstances present during instruction. For example, some expressive language is taught as “labels” (“car”, “table”, “spoon”), some as “answers to questions or responses to statements” (“more”, “fine”, “please”, “hello, my name is___ “) and some as “generalized requests” (“eat”, “drink”, and “break”). For children and adults with ASD, the words, signs, or pictures they learn in one circumstance, don’t tend to occur in other circumstances without additional instruction. In many cases, this result in little to no expressive language or communication responses that are useful or important to the person, in other words, the person does not learn how to make specific requests (i.e. “no mands”).

Very often, this also results in problem behaviors. Individuals begin to communicate by screaming, dropping to the floor, hitting, spitting, kicking, biting, etc. and, if these behaviors result in what the individual wants, even intermittently, these same behaviors function as either specific or generalized requests (“problem mands”) and tend to occur again and again…Then, usually a clinician is asked to conduct a functional assessment in order to develop a plan to reduce the frequency of the problem behaviors and replace these behaviors with more appropriate alternatives. Often, these “replacement” behaviors are either a limited array of receptive skills (following directions or completing assigned tasks) or “generalized requests” for attention, escape, or access to categories of preferred items and activities (i.e. eat, drink, play, more, please, etc.)

When the only “replacement” behaviors are receptive skills, we are teaching poor speakers to be better listeners and when the “replacement” behaviors are generalized requests, we are teaching poor speakers to be non-specific speakers.

Neither is adequate…

Ideal practice should include teaching individuals to make specific requests (SPECIFIC MANDS) and expanded array of receptive skills (following directions, completing assigned tasks, waiting, sharing, and accepting no) (GENERALIZED COMPLIANCE).

In other words we should be teaching poor speakers to be effective, specific speakers who have more control over what happens in their daily lives while also teaching them to be good listeners in a wide variety of commonly occurring situations. Under these circumstances we could expect to see that when individuals have more control and power over what happens in their daily lives they tend to exhibit far lower rate of problem behavior.

Nevena Savic, MA


Interactive Technology and Autism: Dayschool’s Journey…

October 27, 2011 5:28 am Published by

Thanks to generous donations, the Dayschool has been the lucky recipient of new technology this past year. We have graciously received interactive/touch devices (17 iPads and a Smartboard) and can now proudly stand amongst the rest in modern education! The positive reviews of devices like iPads and Smartboards with children with disabilities have been a hot topic all over the internet. Despite research regarding the effectiveness of this technology being relatively new; it makes sense to me why many children with autism seem to enjoy them. With zero learning curve and the ability to access videos, music and games at your fingertips; simply put, this makes for one powerful reinforcer!! However, this is not to say we weren’t a bit tentative the moment we got them. Having talked and talked to anyone willing to listen about all the wonderful benefits of iPads and Smartboards, when they finally came into our possession; we hooted, hollered, jumped for joy…and then scratched our heads and thought, “So, what are we going to do with these things?”

It wasn’t that we didn’t research into, or for some, experience firsthand the benefits of interactive technology with children with autism, but when it finally came to fruition, we just weren’t prepared programmatically. In other words, as easily and quickly as we happily received them, we could not as easily and quickly hand them out to our teachers and students for use. As the reluctant designee for all things “techie” at our school AND being a pro-PC fan (gasp! I know!), configuring iPads for appropriate use for 76 students is no easy task. And until we discovered that we could charge and sync at least 12 iPads simultaneously with purchase of a sync and charge cart…well, let’s just say, I was pretty possessive over any open outlet I saw. And as for the teachers, they were and still are, learning to create interactive lesson plans using the Smartboard software. Not only are they teachers, but they’re slowly learning to become novice programmers too!

Some projects in the works that I hope to be able to report on in the future?
With continuing interest in assistive technology, some of the iPads at the Dayschool have Proloquo2go installed. The advantages of using an iPad as a communication device supersedes any other standard device on the market out there for one simple fact; if it breaks, you go to an Apple store, get it fixed in a reasonable amount of time without jeopardizing a child’s only means of communication and you do it with minimal pain involved (although I hear visiting the Genius Bar can ruin one’s psyche).
We will also be experimenting with using the iPads “Facetime” to work on social skills with some of our students. This may be a great way to learn basic conversational skills using written prompts that won’t be intrusive or awkward when face to face. It will also open doors to meeting and conversing with typical peers. And hey, isn’t this how we’ll all be interacting in a few years anyway?
The Smartboard has been a great way to work on group instruction in larger groups at the school while keeping the students motivated and attentive. Jordan’s class was able to participate in an interactive lesson about community helpers together. Jessie’s class has enjoyed a series of interactive lessons about living and non living things with a Jeopardy type game.
On a final note, as the Dayschool teachers are beginning to make technology part of their regular curriculum; we must remind ourselves that these amazing tools are simply that, tools. They do not replace our instructional strategies based on Applied Behavior Analysis that have been heavily researched, well documented and known to be effective. These tools are supplements to what already is in place; good practice in ABA. Without these tools, that is still what we are left with and there’s nothing wrong with that!


QSAC is a New York City and Long Island based nonprofit that supports children and adults with autism, together with their families, in achieving greater independence, realizing their future potential, and contributing to their communities in a meaningful way by offering person-centered services.

QSAC pursues this mission through direct services that provide a supportive and individualized setting for children and adults with autism to improve their communication, socialization, academic, and functional skills.