How to Build Language Using LEGO® Bricks

Ralph-Rochester_Building-Langua_978-1-78592-061-5_colourjpg-printIn this extract, Dawn Ralph and Jacqui Rochester discuss why Building Language Using LEGO® Bricks is a flexible and powerful intervention tool for aiding children with severe speech, language and communication disorders, often related to autism and other special educational needs.

This practical manual equips you for setting up and adapting your own successful sessions and downloadable resources, enabling you to chart progress in the following key areas:

– The use of receptive and expressive language

– The use and understanding of challenging concepts

– Joint attention

– Social communication

The book is creative, practical and thought-provoking and will be invaluable to Speech and Language Therapists, parents and other professionals wishing to support children with a wide range of language and communication problems.

Click here to download the extract

Special Educational Needs Catalogue 2016

Browse our latest collection of books and resources in Special Educational Needs.
For more information on any of these titles go to

Teaser Tuesday-Social Interaction in Young Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder

The Early Identification of Autism Spectrum Disorders by Patricia O’Brien Towle is a unique visual guide aimed to equip readers with the skills to recognize autism spectrum disorders (ASD) in children as young as 15-18 months old. It provides a systematic framework for understanding theTowle_Early-Identific_978-1-84905-329-7_colourjpg-web complex nature of ASD. From social interaction to communication to restricted and repetitive behaviors, each chapter focuses on key symptoms and uses photographs to illustrate and enhance understanding of presenting or absent behaviors. It is written in an accessible style and covers all of the core aspects of ASD, giving readers everything they need to be able to successfully identify the behavioral indicators of autism.

Chapter 4-Social Interaction in Young Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder

Difference and delay in social development is at the absolute core of ASD. Some children show normal first-year social development and then start
to lose those skills in the second year, while other children evidence delays right from the start. The behaviors to be described and illustrated in this chapter fall into the following three general clusters:

  •  Social engagement and interest: How does the child show that he is interested in others and ready to be engaged? To this end, where does the child place himself physically so that he has the opportunity to get involved with others? How does the child use eye contact to signal interest in engagement, and monitor the faces of others to extract information about how the interaction may go? How does the child get social interaction going with others, and how does he respond when others initiate social interaction with him?
  • Emotional signaling: How does a child exchange purely emotional information with others, and signal her internal state?
  • Capacity for interaction: How easily does the child fall into a give-and take pattern across a variety of circumstances, from predictable and scripted routines to a free-flowing, reciprocal social interchange? Can he sustain an interaction once it is started?

Download the chapter 4 extract here.

Patricia O’Brien Towle, Ph.D., has 30 years’ experience with early childhood developmental disabilities and Autism Spectrum Disorders. She is a clinical child psychologist at the Westchester Institute for Human Development and assistant professor of psychiatry, pediatrics and public health at the New York Medical College. In addition to her extensive clinical experience, Dr. Towle carries out research on the prevalence and developmental course of ASD, supervises psychology interns and post-doctoral fellows, and gives presentations to professionals and parents nationally. She lives in Westchester County, New York.

Teaser Tuesday-Requirements for Being a “Parent” as defined by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEIA)

The Comprehensive Guide to Special Education Law by George A. Giuliani is a detailed yet accessible introduction to federal law as it applies to the rights of children with special needs. Written in a user-friendly question and answer format, the book covers all of the key areas of special education law including parental rights of participation, the legal right to Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) and related services, and the complex issues of discipline and dispute resolutions.

Who is a “parent” as defined under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEIA)?

Perhaps the most important element afforded under IDEIA is the right to parental participation at almost all stages of the special education process. To increase the odds that each child has a parent in the special education process, IDEIA does define the term “parent” but does so in a broad way. Under IDEIA, a “parent” means:

  1. A biological (natural) or adoptive parent of a child
  2. A foster parent, unless State law, regulations, or contractual obligations with a State or local entity prohibit a foster parent from acting as a parent
  3. A guardian generally authorized to act as the child’s parent, or authorized to make educational decisions for the child (but not the State if the child is a ward of the State)
  4. An individual acting in the place of a biological or adoptive parent (including a grandparent, stepparent, or other relative) with whom the child lives, or an individual who is legally responsible for the child’s welfare, or
  5. A surrogate parent who has been appointed in accordance with 34 C.F.R. 300.519.

Download the Requirements for Being a “Parent” extract here.

Dr. George Giuliani works at Hofstra University, Long Island, where he is an Associate Professor at the School of Education, Health and Human Services and former Director of the graduate school program in Special Education. He is also an Adjunct Professor of Law at Hofstra University’s School of Law where he teaches the course, Special Education Law. Dr. Giuliani is the Executive Director of The National Association of Special Education Teachers, Executive Director of the American Academy of Special Education Professors, and President of the National Association of Parents with Children in Special Education. He has written many books on special education and he is a consultant for school districts and early childhood agencies. He resides in Melville, New York.

Teaser Tuesday-‘Oral Motor Fun’ Activity

Speak, Move, Play and Learn with Children on the Autism Spectrum: Activities to Boost Communication Skills, Sensory Integration and Coordination Using Simple Ideas from Speech and Language Pathology and Occupational Therapy by Lois Jean Brady, America X Gonzalez, Maciej Zawadzki and Corinda Presley is a practical resource brimming with ideas and guidance for using simple ideas from speech and language pathology and occupational therapy to boost communication, sensory integration, and coordination skills in children on the autism spectrum. Suitable for use in the classroom, at home, and in community settings, it is packed with easy-to-follow, goal-oriented activities and lesson plans.

The goal of each lesson is to obtain skill sets that will allow children to be active participants in their day, through fun and challenging activities. The activities promote development by structuring opportunities for engagement while facilitating language and skilled motor production, and are presented with suggested variations that can be used to work with a range of low-level functioning individuals and higher-level individuals functioning with greater independence.

Download the ‘Oral Motor Fun’ activity here.

This activity will help students to organize oral motor sensation and coordination, and to strengthen blowing, chewing, sucking,and diadochinetic skills. The ‘Oral Motor Fun’ activity also supports labeling, verb+ing, fine motor, and group pragmatics.


New Video – Sue Cottrell talks to her son Lloyd about learning to control his stammer

In this video Sue Cottrell, author of Can I tell you about Stammering/Stuttering?, talks to her 15 year-old son Lloyd about how his stammer affects his daily life, particularly at school whilst he is feeling stressed about exams. Lloyd reflects on footage of himself speaking as a 13 year-old and discusses how the techniques he has learned since have enabled him to control his stammer and become a more confident speaker.


Podcast: Dr. Petra Kern on how music therapy in early childhood can help children with ASD’s

Earlier this year, the Music Therapy Research Blog interviewed Petra Kern on her work concerning early childhood music therapy with children on the autism spectrum. They published their interview as a podcast, which you can listen to here:

Music Therapy Research Blog interviews Dr. Petra Kern

Petra Kern is co-author with Marcia Humpal of the forthcoming JKP title, Early Childhood Music Therapy and Autism Spectrum Disorders. Petra is owner of Music Therapy Consulting, and  is recipient of the AMTA 2008 Research/Publications Award, editor of imagine, and author of numerous publications. She serves as the immediate Past President of the World Federation of Music Therapy (WFMT), on various editorial boards, and is a frequent international speaker and guest University lecturer.

Five myths about stammering – from the new book ‘Understanding Stammering or Stuttering’

In their new book, Understanding Stammering or Stuttering, specialist Elaine Kelman and parent Alison Whyte use first-hand accounts of children who stammer or stutter to provide clarity on the condition, what it’s like to have it and what the child is likely to need in terms of support at home, school and in social situations.

Here are just some of the common myths about stammering which are addressed and corrected in the book:

Myth 1: Children who stammer are not as intelligent as other children

Because we tend to associate intelligence with an ability to communicate, it is sometimes assumed that children who stammer are less intelligent than other children. There is exactly the same range of intelligence among children who stammer as there is among non-stammering children.

Myth 2: Parents are to blame for their child’s stammer

This is a very persistent myth. Even in the film The King’s Speech, the impression was given that the king may have developed a stammer because his parents were cold and unaffectionate. This notion has often been repeated in the media. No one would dream of suggesting that parents cause their children to be dyslexic or to be short-sighted. Parents do not cause stammering.

Myth 3: Children who stammer are shy and lack confidence

Because children who stammer may not speak in class or in groups, it is often assumed that they are shy and unconfident. But children have told us that while the reaction of other people can affect their confidence, they feel no different to anyone else. There is just as wide a range of personality types among children who stammer as there is among the general population.

Myth 4: People who stammer need help to speak

One of the things that can upset children who stammer is when people finish their sentences for them. People who stammer can appear to be very uncomfortable when trying to force out their words, but they tell us they really don’t want other people who think they know what they are about to say to finish their sentences.

Myth 5: Stammering can be ‘cured’

Parents often ask us if stammering can be cured. This makes it sound like some kind of illness – which it is not. There are courses and techniques that will help to reduce the stammer – it may even seem to disappear. However, many children find it exhausting to use techniques each time they speak and they may relapse. Many children learn to manage their stammer and to live with it. There is no ‘cure’ for stammering, but there is much that can be done to help.

Copyright © Jessica Kingsley Publishers 2012.

“Cognitive flexibility is the hallmark of a productive, happy and healthy young adult with Aspergers Syndrome” – An Interview with Dr Michael McManmon

Dr. Michael P. McManmon is the founder of the College Internship Program (CIP) that serves college-aged students with learning differences and Asperger’s Syndrome in six centers across the U.S. CIP’s goal is to prepare young men and young women with skills for life, for work and for independent living. Dr. McManmon was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome at fifty-one years of age. His personal struggles and ensuing victories and that of his students and staff have inspired this book. He lives in Massachusetts in the U.S.

Made for Good Purpose: What Every Parent Needs to Know to Help Their Adolescent with Asperger’s, High Functioning Autism or a Learning Difference Become an Independent Adult

What led you to found the College Internship Program (CIP), and how does it work?

I had worked for private and public group homes for younger and older children for about ten years and when I moved to Massachusetts, during the era of deinstitutionalization, I wanted to open a transitional apartment program for students coming out of residential schools and institutional programs. I read Wolfensburger’s Normalization Theory while studying for my Doctorate in Special Education and wanted to implement it in a community-based program where students could experience living in normal living conditions.

The College Internship Program opened in 1984 and is a community-based program with six sites around the U.S. We offer a comprehensive curriculum for students with Learning Differences and on the Spectrum. Students live in apartments and can attend college or be involved in career studies. They learn everything from banking and budgeting to apartment skills and executive functioning skills. They have instruction in social thinking, sensory diets, wellness, etc. both in individual sessions and modules at our centers.

Why do you think it has been so successful?

The program is individualized and encompasses all the main areas that students with learning differences would need to work on. We can create an individual program of services for each student and then move them to less intensive supports as they progress. Students are assessed and given the exact services that they need to succeed.

Can you talk a little bit about your personal connection to Aspergers Syndrome?

Initially, I was diagnosed in 2004 by our Academic Coordinator (who worked for me at our center in Massachusetts). This was after operating the center for more than fifteen years. It was near the time that we first had contact with Stephen Shore and invited him out for a day to share information. It also coincided with a visit we made to see Ami Klin who was at the Yale Child Study Center. Ami referred to us as one of the foremost College Programs for Aspergers and we left there quite mystified, as we knew only a little about Aspergers Syndrome at the time. After meeting with both Stephen and Ami and my staff diagnosing me, I became fascinated with reading about Aspergers and started to formulate a comprehensive curriculum for our program.

How did your diagnosis affect your life?

My diagnosis was a huge shift psychologically for me. I realized that the goofiest parts of my personality that I was trying through my life to hide were actually my best traits. I started to be myself and to learn about how to respond socially to others, use eye contact, work as part of a team, etc. My self-esteem rose as I learned to initiate, be reciprocal and succeed at working at my goals. I was workable with others and in community. My adult children had a Dad who was a human being and not just a Human Doer. Before diagnosis, I struggled to be able to operate one small center – after diagnosis, I am able to navigate the world, have six centers, and can maintain relationships.

I feel like a child let loose in a candy store. It seems to me that I can operate like a normal adult in any area I choose to participate. I know how to ask for help, to form alliances, and I am open to change and experiencing new things in my life. I would say I am very happy.

Can you tell us a bit about your book, Made for Good Purpose – what was your goal in writing it?

The goal in writing the book was to explain from the inside out the critical variables for parents and professionals to understand in dealing with young people on the spectrum. I have been told that I serve as some kind of “emotional translator” of sorts and it is almost like I have lived a double life and am able to interpret for them the important approaches to working with their sons and daughters.

The book was a labor of love and it illustrates through stories the relevant steps that need to be taken. The overriding message is that cognitive flexibility is the hallmark of a productive, happy and healthy young adult. All other growth is predicated upon being open to change and feedback and understanding who you are and accepting it.

Read a Preview of Made for Good Purpose »

Your book contains beautiful illustrations. When did you first start drawing, and how do you find time to do this?

I started drawing as a young child and was punished for it in second grade but persisted in it. In college, I wanted to transfer to art school after taking every art course I could at my college, but my father was not supportive. I buried my art when raising six children. After diagnosis my art became reinitiated and it transformed when I allowed myself to use color for the first time about five years ago.

I draw and paint everywhere I go and I am always completing several pictures at one time. I just force myself to whip out the watercolors and pad wherever I travel.

You also write beautiful poetry – when did you start?

I started writing in the seminary in High School and I still have my writings from that time. In college, I wrote many poems and they were published in our literary magazine. I wrote a lot on my job all night in a hospital during the summer and also when I lived in the slums of Washington D.C. after college. My poetry writing came mostly to a halt when raising my children and started to reshow itself in the last five years also.

What is your next big challenge?

My next big challenge is to start Visual and Performing Arts Centers and programs at each of our six centers around the U.S. I have created one at our center in Massachusetts where we have an art gallery (Good Purpose Art Gallery) and a theatre in an old church that we have renovated called the Spectrum Playhouse. These venues provide outlets for our students for their talents and integration with the surrounding artistic community. This is not a challenge but another work of love. My passions are all about this and I feel much joy and satisfaction from continuing to work on these projects.

Another project I have started is another book entitled The Assets of Aspergers. This book is a totally positive look at the wonderful traits of those on the spectrum and how they make life better for all of us.

Copyright © Jessica Kingsley Publishers 2012.

Combining ideas from SLT and OT to Speak, Move, Play and Learn with Children on the Autism Spectrum – An Interview with America Gonzalez and Corinda Presley

America X. Gonzalez is a Speech and Language Pathologist Assistant who works in several institutions in the San Francisco Bay Area, and Corinda Presley is an Occupational Therapist at the Communication Works Center in Oakland, California.

In this interivew, America and Corinda explain how the activities in their new book, Speak, Move, Play and Learn with Children on the Autism Spectrum, – co-authored with Lois Jean Brady and Maciej Zawadzki – draw on ideas from both Speech and Language Pathology (SLP) and Occupational Therapy (OT); how this combined approach has benefited their own practices; and why the process of doing each activity can often be more important than the outcome.

Where did the idea to combine SLP and OT come from?

America: The idea was born out of a spirit of collaboration that came up when we noticed that our students were working on similar projects but with an OT or SLP spin. Another way we came together was when the speech team would make quesadillas with the students to work on sequencing, vocabulary and describing goals. And the OT would say, “Can I jump into your activity to practice cutting the quesadilla into triangles with my student?” And so we began to purposely create activities around both OT and SLP goals. We recently found out that the University of California – San Francisco has built therapy rooms for the explicit purpose of the collaboration between therapists. This is a wonderful step towards collaborative therapy.

Corinda: In all areas of healthcare and education, a multidisciplinary approach is the most effective way to meet the needs of the individual you are working with. Every field has their own unique perspective to bring to the table and it helps provide an overall picture of the individual and their needs. In the educational setting, working with professionals from varying backgrounds is a part of the daily routine, be they occupational therapists, speech therapists, physical therapists, orientation and mobility therapists, behavioral therapists, or adaptive physical education specialists. Through the years occupational therapists and speech therapists have discovered the value of combining their expertise to elicit the most out of a child. The occupational therapist brings a sensory-motor approach using meaningful activities such as crafts and arts, while the speech therapist brings the most important aspect everyone needs in any setting: functional communication.

For those with a background in SLP, how can incorporating methods traditionally associated with OT transformed your work?

America: Incorporating occupational therapy into a speech therapy session has transformed us into more well-rounded therapists. We can help the student reach their goals faster because they are working on a goal many more times per week. Traditionally, the therapist works with their student once or twice per week. With our activities they can work on their goals twice with their OT, twice with their SLP and a few more times at home. The difference between 2 times a week and 6+ times a week creates the surge in learning. The repetition helps students reach their goals faster and helps the lessons sink in.

Corinda: Functional communication is a huge part of our daily living. It is a means of survival to meet our basic human needs. Communication is a natural part of therapy, however as occupational therapists working in schools, we are specifically looking at students’ motor, sensory and daily living needs. Incorporating a communication system that matches the child’s level allows the therapist to work with the child in a more holistic way. Working with speech therapists has enhanced and enriched my therapy and I truly see great progress with children with challenging behaviors.

How should a teacher go about using the book’s activities in the classroom?

America: Teachers can easily do these activities because the materials needed can almost always be found around the classroom. Another great advantage of this book is that a teacher can customize the lesson to the appropriate learning style or level with our “Variations” section at the bottom of each activity. The entire classroom can do one activity regardless of there being many cognitive levels in the class. Everyone can participate and be a part of the fun.

Corinda: There are a lot of academic tasks that can be learned by students through a “hands-on” approach, as opposed to traditional classroom techniques. Children are, by nature, curious: they want to touch, smell, and manipulate “things.” A multisensory approach to learning creates greater potential for acquisition, retention, and generalization of new skills. We feel it is important to create alternative methods of acquiring knowledge with children who struggle with traditional methods. We hope that simple activities we included in this book will become a welcome addition to a repertoire of teaching strategies used by teachers, who are looking for stimulating ways to engage their children. Many of these activities can be altered or graded to meet varying cognitive levels. A variety of common classroom and household materials are used in the activities and most are interchangeable. The main focus for group activities is providing an opportunity for the children to engage in supported socialization and conversation. It allows opportunities for joint attention and to think about other people in the group with commenting on each other’s work, and sharing materials.

And what about parents at home?

America: Parents at home often struggle with getting their children of all ages and abilities play or interact together. With these activities, their children of differing abilities can work side by side on the same project by using the “Variations”, thus bringing the family together. Another benefit is that the book is easy to read and to follow which takes away the mystery of helping your own child succeed.

Corinda: We understand the daily struggle parents live with when raising a child with a disability. We strongly feel that building relationships with family members as well as peers is important and possible. Using creative stimulating activities as a bridge to forming these relationships also allows great opportunities for social language and developing pragmatics. This book also provides many activities that help encourage children to participate in daily activities, such as cooking, brushing their teeth, cleaning their rooms, and more. We would like to see our students be engaged and participating members of their families, and home is a great place to start, since it is a safe and familiar place.

Throughout the book you stress that the value of each activity is in the process, not the finished product. Can you tell us a bit more about this?

America: Many people put too much emphasis on having their projects look pretty and correct. But in reality if a student makes a macaroni self-portrait that has five legs instead of two, it’s okay because the extra legs were extra opportunities for that kid to work on their pincher grasp. The lesson is the important part. Learning the technique in a fun way is more important than having the project look polished.

Corinda: Nobody learns new skills without making mistakes and errors along the way. They are inevitable parts of learning. By focusing our attention on the process, rather than the finished product, we are trying to emphasize the importance of the small steps necessary to build competency in a new skill. We feel that gaining small skills that can be generalized to many areas is more beneficial than being able to complete one big project. Additionally, by avoiding the pressure associated with the perfect outcome, we are hoping to bring some joy and laughter to the activity itself. Spilling some flour is not the end of the world, but it is an opportunity to practice other skills, such as drawing shapes with a finger.

You’ve helped to transform the lives of many children using this approach, and in fact include some of your success stories in the book. Which for you was the most memorable, and why?

America: All our successes are memorable. Just when you think you have a huge success with one student then another one comes along and surpasses it. I’m sure that since we wrote the book we have had even more magical moments. This is why we do this. Every day is another opportunity for a great feat.

Watch the Book Trailer!


Copyright © Jessica Kingsley Publishers 2012.