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Grant provides iPads to assist non-vocal learners at Little Star – Indiana ABA center

Little Star Center recently received a grant from Answers for Autism (AAI) to further its mission to help individuals with autism become more independent.

Project: It’s my Turn to Talk focuses on increasing and improving communication for all of our learners. Statistics estimate that as many as 14 to 25 percent of children diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) present with little or no functional speech (Lord & Bailey, 2002; Lord, Risi, & Pickles, 2004). The ability to express primary wants and needs is severely limited for these individuals. This affects every aspect of their lives.

With the generous help from Answers for Autism, an organization that raises funds to provide grants to Indiana programs that serve individuals with autism, we are able to provide iPads to several of our non-vocal learners.  Each iPad will be individually programmed for the specific learner with items, places, people and sayings that matter to her/him.

We started this mission back in 2011, after receiving a grant from Answers for Autism that allowed us to purchase four iPads and an advanced communication app. Since then, we have successfully improved communication for more than 15 learners who previously did not have an effective mode of communication.  A parent of one LSC learner described the impact the iPad and communication application have had for her family:

“I couldn’t be happier with how well he is doing and it is SO nice to be able to ask him questions and know that we are getting HIS answer instead of just making a choice for him…

“…It’s a little step perhaps to some, but for us… it’s HUGE. Last weekend he told me that he wanted to play with his cars which I had all put away. Had he not asked, I would have never known that’s what he wanted, but once I knew- I got them out and he was thrilled. And I was thrilled. Life changing!” –Margaret Young, parent of a LSC learner

Thank you to Answers for Autism!  For more information about Answers for Autism, please visit www.answersautism.org

 

Great speakers, informative sessions at ASHA convention

By Kasey Philpott, MS, CCC-SLP

I recently attended the annual American Speech-Language-Hearing Association’s (ASHA) convention in Chicago.  With over 12,000 attendees, the ASHA convention provides a plethora of learning opportunities for speech language pathologists and audiologists alike covering a variety of topics, including speech sound disorders, autism, augmentative and alternative communication (AAC), hearing loss, swallowing disorders, stroke and language science.

This year’s theme was The Magic of Teamwork: Science and Service Delivery, which offered several opportunities to hear from other professions including behavior analysts!

I had the pleasure of attending many sessions discussing autism treatment specific to AAC, social skills, feeding/swallowing and others. I also had the opportunity to see a few familiar faces, including Oliver Wendt, Ph.D, from Purdue University, who presented a case study on Experimental Evaluation of a Parent-Implemented AAC Intervention Protocol for Children with Severe Autism. Thomas Zane Ph.D., a Little Star Center advisory board member. He presented a poster session that looked at the evaluation of efficiency and preference for communication modalities.

Overall it was a great experience!  I’m looking forward to next year’s convention in Orlando, Fla.!

Kasey is a speech language pathologist & director of related services at Little Star Center.

 

Young student is a fan of Little Star Center

William, the 10 year-old son of Tim Courtney, research and training director at Little Star Center, wrote the following letter to his school to request a grant for Little Star Center. This is a great reminder that our learners  success is important to even our youngest citizens.

Did you know one out of every 88 kids has autism? It’s for that reason I think we should choose Little Star Center for one of our lollipop drop charities.

Little Star Center is right here in our community helping kids with autism. Little Star is 100 percent non-profit. With the money we raise for (the school), it would be able to purchase therapy supplies for the kids who go there. The supplies would help the kids in learning to communicate and be independent.

I think it’s important to help everyone as much as we can, and it’s a great feeling to be able to help kids in our very own community. My dad is one of the directors at Little Star Center. I know the work they do is changing kid’s lives, and I hope we can assist them in continuing to do that.

Meg DiMartino named Assistant Clinical Director

Carmel, Ind.—Nov. 26, 2013—Little Star Center, a non-profit therapeutic applied behavior analysis center serving children and young adults with autism, announces today it has promoted Meg DiMartino to assistant clinical director.

DiMartino has worked with the Little Star Center team since April 2013 as a program manager. With her promotion to assistant clinic director, she assumes responsibilities including oversight and supervision of Little Star Center learners and their therapists, respectively. She is a board certified behavior analyst (BCBA) and earned her Master of Science degree in applied behavior analysis and developmental disabilities from Auburn University in Auburn, Alabama under the supervision of Dr. James Carr and Dr. Linda LeBlanc. After graduate school, she worked as a school consultant for central and northern Alabama through The Learning Tree Inc. in Tallassee, Ala.

Annual Holiday Party – Reindeer and all!

It’s the season to be jolly, when we gather together to celebrate with our nearest and dearest!  I love parties, it’s no news.  I love attending them, hosting them and even hearing about them – so I thought you might too!

Little Star hosted it’s annual holiday party on Saturday.  Over 130 people were in attendance including LSC parents, kids, siblings, staff and their families.  Santa Claus came by and the kids were sitting on his lap, telling him their lists (I did, too!).

Also, in attendance were a couple of his reindeer – the kids loved petting them and feeding them carrots and apples.  Attendees ate great food, met other families and watched the kids play.  It was a great time and we look forward to doing it again next year!

Happy Holidays to everyone and feel free to stop by my office and tell me about your parties – again, I love parties!