Apps That Ease Assessment of ASD and Social Learning Apps can aid your data-gathering on students with autism and other social learning issues. App-titude
Free
App-titude  |   March 01, 2018
Apps That Ease Assessment of ASD and Social Learning
Author Notes
  • Sean Sweeney, MS, MEd, CCC-SLP, is a clinician and technology specialist working in private practice at the Ely Center in Needham, Massachusetts, and a consultant to local and national organizations on technology integration in speech and language interventions. His blog, SpeechTechie, looks at technology “through a language lens.” sean@speechtechie.com
    Sean Sweeney, MS, MEd, CCC-SLP, is a clinician and technology specialist working in private practice at the Ely Center in Needham, Massachusetts, and a consultant to local and national organizations on technology integration in speech and language interventions. His blog, SpeechTechie, looks at technology “through a language lens.” sean@speechtechie.com×
Article Information
Special Populations / Genetic & Congenital Disorders / Autism Spectrum / School-Based Settings / Telepractice & Computer-Based Approaches / App-titude
App-titude   |   March 01, 2018
Apps That Ease Assessment of ASD and Social Learning
The ASHA Leader, March 2018, Vol. 23, online only. doi:10.1044/leader.APP.23032018.np
The ASHA Leader, March 2018, Vol. 23, online only. doi:10.1044/leader.APP.23032018.np
Assessing students with autism and other social learning issues can be challenging to do with standardized evaluation instruments.
It’s easier to observe and describe social competence qualitatively than it is to “test” it. But this can leave us with a lot of data to manage. Some simple tech tools can help ease the data-gathering process and keep your focus where you want it—on the students.
Notate classroom function
School-based evaluations should, first and foremost, characterize any difficulties students may have in classroom performance. You can make it easier to document classroom observations by starting in an electronic medium, which minimizes the need to transcribe handwritten notes. Using apps on mobile devices (see the free Google Docs for iOS or Android or Keynote for iPad) can make your observations more covert than toting a clunky laptop.
It can be helpful to set up an observation template for relevant data points such as classroom environment, context and social interactions. Sarah Ward and Kristen Jacobsen provide a helpful situational awareness template that can be transferred into electronic form. You can more easily transfer these electronically composed notes into an evaluation report.
More systematic data-taking apps designed for school psychologists can also be useful for SLPs. BehaviorSnap ($9.99 for iOS) provides counting and timing tools that can be exported to graphs for word-processing documents. My Student Observation App (free for iOS) allows you to create a bank of “engagement” and “intervention” codes (for example, “tracks teacher” or “teacher listening cue”) that can be tapped during an observation for data that will be exported to a report.
Sample language
Students with autism often struggle with the elaborative, organizational and perspective-taking aspects of storytelling, and an assessment of these skills is an important window on their classroom functioning. However, clinicians may view language sampling as too time-consuming and confusing to realistically complete. Recording several language samples using mobile apps is a great first step in making this process easier. Smartphones, including the iPhone, generally include a native Voice Memos app that you can use for recording samples; Voice Memos for iPad ($1.99) is a good addition to your dedicated device.
Two articles published in the ASHA journal Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools provide easy-to-use protocols and analysis techniques, including tech resources, for language sampling. John Heilmann and Thomas Malone, in their 2014 article, suggest “Rules of the Game,” a protocol, analysis and database for characterizing students’ expository descriptions of board games or sports. Stacey Pavelko and Robert Owens Jr.’s 2017 update to SUGAR, Sampling Utterances and Grammatical Analysis Revised describes how to transcribe electronic recordings of narrative and how to use simple word-processing tools to tabulate essential data.
Use photos
A useful assessment process to further characterize real-world functioning is the Social Thinking® “double interview” (based on the work of Michelle Garcia Winner, see this article describing the process). During this activity, the examiner interviews the student and then provides scaffolds to the student as the student interviews the examiner, based on several of the examiner’s personal photos. Technology can be a great help in providing and presenting these materials; save photos from your Facebook and Instagram to share with the student. Students’ insights into the “story” of these photos (the who, where, when and what) and the questions they can generate will provide functional information on their social cognition.
Asking students to describe highly contextual and situational social scenes is also a helpful activity. Getty Images (free for iOS, Android and the web) has stock imagery on virtually any situation imaginable, providing a library for determining students’ ability to analyze situations, facial expressions and other nonverbal cues. Add contextual photos to Making Sequences ($4.99 for iPad) to assess the skills of reading situational cues to create a sequence.
0 Comments
Submit a Comment
Submit A Comment
Name
Comment Title
Comment


This feature is available to Subscribers Only
Sign In or Create an Account ×
FROM THIS ISSUE
March 2018
Volume 23, Issue 3