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Special Needs | News

LAUSD Taps Animated Lessons To Teach Social Skills

Los Angeles schools are adopting a Web-based service to support their students with social learning challenges such as autism, Asperger's Syndrome, and ADHD. The Los Angeles Unified School District will be using The Social Express from Language Express to deliver animated lessons to students that model the social skills they need in developing relationships with others.

Core concepts for the lessons are based on work by Michelle Garcia Winner, a speech language pathologist who specializes in the treatment of students with social cognitive deficits at the Social Thinking Center, her clinic in San Jose, CA.

The "webisodes" feature "Zack," "Emma," "Sam," and "Katie," characters who must solve social problems, such as a friend dropping an ice cream cone or an interruption by third person when two friends are playing. The programs incorporate interactive visual cues that the student can pick to change the outcome of the situation and teaching tips that the adult can use to help complete the lesson with the student.

Students also gain access to The Clubhouse, a private social network that lets them practice skills and make new friends in a closed environment.

Adults can manage student access and group use of the program through "Central Station," a student management system. The system also provides features for tracking usage and progress, running reports, and exporting data for individualized education plan reporting compliance. According to the company, the activities in The Social Express follow California State Board of Education content standards as well as Common Core State Standards.

"The Social Express offers a comprehensive curriculum and guide containing the very foundations of social and emotional skills that we are required to teach," said Amy Nguyen, special education specialist for the Los Angeles district. "It is easy for teachers to use, and fun for the students."

Other districts that have recommended The Social Express include Franklin-McKinley School District in San Jose and Aiken County Public School District in South Carolina.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a writer who covers technology and business for a number of publications. Contact her at dian@dischaffhauser.com.

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