Mom Develops Social Skills Game


Mom Develops Social Skills Game


Pamela DePalma’s son Daniel has Pamela DePalma’s son Daniel has Aspergers Syndrome. Like any parent she has made sacrifices to help her son. Like any parent she has made sacrifices to help her son. Seeking better services, she moved from Illinois to Phoenix, Arizona. While there, Pamela met child development specialist, Rhonda Whitaker, who worked with Daniel. Using Monopoly pieces, she created a game designed to teach social skills to older children with autism.

“I was excited about it because there’s not a lot of games for older kids with autism. As kids get older, the resources start to fall away,” said DePalma.

Daniel’s social skills were improving with the game and that is when DePalma and Whitaker decided to create their own game, based on the game Whitaker designed. They formed the company The Developmental Garden together and began selling “Give Me Five,” the board game, along with an app based on the game for iTunes.

With 8 different categories, the board game contains 240 cards. Taking turns, players listen to a scenario, determine what the characters are feeling, and then role-play various situations. Even children who are not on the autism spectrum are enjoying game this non-competitive game. Amy, Daniel’s seven year-old sister, says, “To be honest, I’m actually learning things from these cards.”

Videos of social situations are included on the app, which are incorporated into a game. Children on the spectrum can even play solo because it give them an opportunity to practice without the pressure of needing to interact.

“A lot of kids who struggle with social skills are attracted to gaming. At the same time, they’re learning social skills,” says Whitaker.  Recalling how using the app improved one boy’s social skills, Whitaker said, “By the fourth time (of using the app), he was generalizing information that he learned, not just memorizing. It was super cool.”

Instead of telling strangers or other children when he felt sick, the boy learned to find the appropriate person who could help him in that situation, specifically his mother or grandmother.

To date, The Developmental Garden has sold approximately 80 apps and 50 units of the “Give me Five” board game. So far, two schools  inArizonaand one school in theChicagoarea have purchased the game. Getting the board game into as many schools as possible is De Palma’s goal.

With the game and the app being a huge achievement, it’s only the start for the new company and DePalma and Whitaker.  They are committed to providing parents and teachers with as many resources and tools as they can to help every child learn and grow.

“To provide resource tools to parents and professionals which nurture developmental prosperity through love, respect, and understanding of children,” is the company’s mission statement.

“Give me 5: What a wonderful social game for all ages! It targets most social-language concepts all in one interactive board game. Role-playing, non-verbal language, self-presentation, and much more! Finally. . . a well-rounded social language tool for teachers and therapists,” says Shanna Stoller, SLPA.

 The Developmental Garden “Give me Five” game and apps.

 For more information and resources, please visit

Nonverbal Autistic Teen Masters Written Communication & Advocates For ASD Education





If I told you a 16 year old wrote a book that is being assigned in university classrooms, would you believe me? Maybe. What if I told you that 16 year old is a nonverbal autistic?  Ido Kedar, a California teen with Autism Spectrum Disorder, has escaped the “solitary confinement”[i] of his body through mastering the motor skills necessary for communication tools like IPad apps. Ido is now able to express his feelings, opinions, and self-interest—insisting on inclusion in a regular education program and challenging experts’ assumptions about his condition. Ido describes the difficulty of his silent half-life saying, “It was terrible having experts talk to each other about me, and to hear them be wrong in their observations and interpretations, but to not be capable of telling them.” i

Ido advocates for integrated education through his blog and book, “Ido In Autismland,” and leads by example as an honor roll student. In his blog post Truth Over Theory, Ido describes his conversation with an open-minded professor as refreshing because, “more often, I think, people get used to their theories and stay there their whole professional careers.”[ii] Ido’s book has been assigned to college classrooms and is available on Amazon. In the personal statement of Ido’s Blog, he states his intent is to “help other autistic people find a way out of their silence too.”

Ido’s story was featured as an NBC News special, in which Ido was interviewed and able to respond via IPad, more articulately, in fact, than many people his age. The insight Ido has provided into the mind and condition of nonverbal autistics is monumental for the future of education and intervention strategies. Ido’s literary voice is unique and engaging—a true joy to read. Through his advocacy efforts and personal successes, Ido is altering the stigmas associated with autism. In an interview with NBC News Ido asserted,  “I want people to understand that not speaking is not the same thing as not thinking.”i

At Shema Kolainu, we believe all children have a voice. With understanding and support, we can hear the voices of all of our children too— whether through mediating tools like tablets, their own vocalization, or caring attention to the nuances of their behavior. Share your stories of communication barriers and successes here!

[i] Lin, Daisy, and Bruce Hansel. “Autistic Teen Uses Tech to Break Silence: “I Escaped My Prison”” NBC Southern California. N.p., 35 Apr. 2013. Web. 06 May 2013. <–204775591.html>.

[ii] Kedar, Ido. “Truth Over Theory.” Ido In Autismland. N.p., 13 Feb. 2013. Web. 06 May 2013. <>.



Smartphones Put Healthcare In The Palm Of Your Hands





Having trouble managing your child’s healthcare schedule? Is it difficult to engage your child in interactive games or educational material? Does family travel seem like more trouble than it’s worth? What ever your particular concerns may be, it seems “there’s an app for that.”â From Autism to Alzheimer’s, smartphone applications are making care easier, more affordable, and portable. New applications are being released faster than they can be downloaded. There are so many, in fact, that there is now a free app that is just a comprehensive list of other autism apps with reviews by parents and specialists, simply named ‘Autism Apps.’ Apps aid in everything from communication development to healthcare scheduling, or, just offer sensory friendly amusement like the popular game Angry Birds. Many apps are replacing sophisticated, costly devices. Apps like First Then Visual Schedule (FTVS) can make everyday a little easier, with quick pictorial to-do lists for the day, preventing upsets from unexpected activities with just the drag of a finger. Proloque2Go provides augmentative and alternative communication solutions for autistic children with difficulty speaking by utilizing symbolic communication to develop literacy, drawing from a library of over 14,000 symbols. Apps even offer promising solutions for healthcare and research professionals, allowing long term tracking of patient behavioral patterns and environmental exposure through programs like Autism Tracker Pro. Check out the most recent reviews of Autism apps at LAPTOP reviews. Share your favorite apps or ideas for useful apps below!

Researchers Develop Smartphone App Using Video For Early Intervention





The Center for Disease Control and Prevention states that parents of children with ASDs tend to report concerns regarding vision and hearing as well as social and motor skills within the child’s first year and studies show that ASD diagnoses at the age of 2 can be reliable and valid. The theme of ASD treatment today is early intervention, but navigating available, medical resources can take many months. The Southwest Autism Research and Resource Center, in collaboration with Behavior Imaging Solutions and the Georgia Institute of Technology, is developing a Smartphone application that streamlines communication between specialists and parents, expediting diagnostics. The application, to be called the Naturalistic Observation Diagnostic Assessment, will allow parents to upload videos of their children’s behavior for professional assessment. If successful, this application could enable earlier treatment and therapy, and increase diagnoses in rural areas where parents have less access to specialists. The program is not intended for ongoing treatment, but is a diagnostic tool intended to accelerate intervention. The National Institutes of Health is funding the app development with a $2.2 million grant. Testing will begin this summer and is intended to be available by 2014. According to the CDC, the average age of diagnosis is currently 6. Studies show the significance of early intervention for the development of communicative abilities and motor skills, but physicians are often hesitant to diagnose a disorder that manifests itself behaviorally. This app would allow physicians prolonged insight into the behavior of the child, rendering confident, early diagnoses. Vice President and Director of Research at the Southwest Autism Research and Resource Center, Christopher Smith, asserts that diagnoses should occur before a child turns two to allow for therapy and specialized education in early development. The cost of these app-based diagnoses has not yet been defined.

Share your opinion on Smartphone tools here!



Scott, Eugene. “App Aims for Faster Autism Diagnosis.” USA Today. Gannett, 13 Apr. 2013. Web. 15 Apr. 2013. <>.