Tablets Help Autistic Kids Maximize Language Skills

speech generation device

A recent study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry suggests that using tablets with speech generating applications in the context of blended, adaptive treatment can help minimally verbal children make significant and rapid gains in their language skills. Continue reading

Autistic Girl Makes friends with Businessman on Flight, Parent Advocate Learns Valuable Lesson

Kate Mouland and Mother, Shanelle

After spending a week at Disney World,  Shanelle Mouland, was on a flight from Orlando toPhiladelphia to catch a connection to her hometown of New Brunswick,Canada. Her 5-year-old daughter, Grace, and her husband sat in one row and she and their youngest, a 3-year old named Kate, sat in the row behind them.  The Mouland’s knew it was important that Kate’s seatmate was empathetic, patient and understanding. Kate, who’s behavior can range from loving to frantic, is dependent on her mood because she has autism. 

Mouland, recently wrote on her blog “Go Team Kate”, an open letter titled, “Dear Daddy in Seat 16C,” Mouland writes, “I watched the entireTemplebasketball team board the plane, and wondered if one of these giants might sit by Kate. They all moved toward the back. She would have liked that … I watched many Grandmotherly women board and hoped for one to take the seat but they walked on by. For a fleeting moment I thought we might have a free seat beside us, and then you walked up and sat down with your briefcase and your important documents and I had a vision of Kate pouring her water all over your multi-million dollar contracts, or house deeds, or whatever it was you held. The moment you sat down, Kate started to rub your arm. Your jacket was soft and she liked the feel of it. You smiled at her and she said: ‘Hi, Daddy, that’s my mom.’ Then she had you.”

Mouland explained to Yahoo Shine “Any time we go out in public, we have to plan for anything because Kate has sensory issues and when she’s overwhelmed, her behavior becomes unpredictable.” “Most people warm up to Kate, but interacting with her can be off-putting for those that don’t understand autism.”

Fortunately, Eric Kunkel,  a businessman from Villas, New Jersey and father of one, was Kate’s seatmate. For the duration of the flight, he entertained Kate by playing a video game with her and letting her play with his iPad. Kate, who will be getting dog service soon talked with Kunkel about dogs and told of her adventures at Disney World, going to the theme park, meeting the Disney princesses and Winnie the Pooh. At the end of the flight she began screaming to remove her seatbelt.  Kunkel to help diffuse the situation, even tried to distract Kate with her toys, but then allowed the Mouland family to exit the plane ahead of him.

“Thank you for letting us go ahead of you.” “She was feeling overwhelmed and escaping the plane and a big, long hug was all she needed. So, thank you. Thank you for not making me repeat those awful apologetic sentences that I so often say in public. Thank you for entertaining Kate so much that she had her most successful plane ride, yet. And, thank you for putting your papers away and playing turtles with our girl.” wrote Mouland

Kunkel told Yahoo Shine “I travel a lot for work and Kate was, by far, the most well behaved kid I’ve sat next to”. “Shanelle is also an incredible parent – she didn’t apologize for Kate and she shouldn’t have – but she was very attentive to her.”

Kunkel’s son and girlfriend spotted Mouland’s blog post a few days after the flight, while perusing a site for autism and forwarded it to Kunkel.  He couldn’t believe the coincidence. Through Facebook, he then contacted Mouland and thanked her.

Grateful for the experience, Mouland says she created her blog to teach others about autism. Little did she know was the one who learned a lesson. She said “I assumed that a man in a business suit wouldn’t be patient with Kate, and I’m so fortunate to have been proved wrong.”

For more information about parent advocates, please visit

Photo courtesy of Shanelle Mouland

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. <>.



IPad app helps students get creative

Adam Goldberg, a music teacher at P177Q in Queens, NY, a school for special-needs students, has successfully integrated the iPad into his class, creating an iPad band of talented musicians.

“Some of the students in this school who are very low functioning, are really making music,” Goldberg tells

Being on the autism spectrum, Goldberg’s students often have a hard time with communication, socializing and focusing.  But, with use of an iPad, they have been able to play some of the most difficult and challenging music compositions such as “Space Circus” by famous jazz composer Chick Corea. Continue reading

Share Your World With Autistic Children with New iPad App

The iPad has become a commonly used tool for allowing those with speech-language impairments to communicate and helps to teach those with special needs.  Searching “Autism” in the iPad App Store produces 902 results, a number which has been increasing quickly.  The popularity of using iPad apps for this purpose is not surprising given that traditional alternative and augmentative communication (AAC) dedicated devices cost up to $15,000. Continue reading

Co-op Helps Children with Autism Get iPads

Ipads for Autism

For parents of children with autism, the iPad has been a godsend. And now, thanks to the help of an electric cooperative, anIndianaschool has been able to get several of the devices to help students with autism learn. Continue reading

New Autism Social Learning Software A Success

New Autism Social Learning Software A Success

The Language Express, a developer of social learning software for children on the autism spectrum, received its first round of seed funding from a private investment firm. The company’s initial product, The Social Express™, is a 16-lesson autism app that’s receiving enthusiastic reviews from parents, therapists, educators, and bloggers. Continue reading

Children with Autism get Great Benefits from Using Computers

Children with Autism get Great Benefits from Computers

Simon Baron-Cohen is professor of Developmental Psychopathology in the Departments of Psychiatry and Experimental Psychology at the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom.

Recent studies by Nottingham University and Carnegie Mellon University have shown the enormous benefits and functionality that those in the autism spectrum experience when using computers. Continue reading