social skills

Interview with The Social Express

blogEntryThumbnailI am pleased to have Marc Zimmerman and his company The Social Express participate in an interview. The Social Express™ is engaging, educational software for children and young adults with social learning challenges. The software - available for iPad, Mac, and PC - is designed to teach users how to think about and manage social situations, helping them to develop meaningful social relationships and succeed in life. The iPad app for The Social Express™ is being offered at a promotional rate of $44.99 through the end of April, celebrating Autism Awareness month. That’s 50% off the introductory price of $89.99!

I asked Marc and his company to answer five questions regarding The Social Express™. Below are the questions that were answered:

What was your company's inspiration for creating The Social Express?
The founders Marc and Tina Zimmerman are parents of identical twin boys who were diagnosed 10 years ago with Autism. Teaching them social awareness has always been their #1 goal. Their inspiration came when a therapist introduced her laptop into therapy. The twins were very interested in the technology but the program was not holding their attention. That’s the day they chatted about leveraging technology with engaging content.

What kind of research was done to create the content in The Social Express?
According to the content director Mary Anne MacLellan, M.A., CCC-SLP, The Social Express™ is based on best practices and programs that feature cognitive behavioral techniques and visual strategies. The lessons presented in the software adhere to California State Board of Education Content Standards and the Common Core Standards. References incorporated in The Social Express™ include the following:

Buron, K.D., & Curtis, M. (2004). The Incredible 5 Point Scale: Assisting students with autism spectrum disorders in understanding social interactions and controlling their emotions. Shawnee Mission, KS: Autism Asperger Publishing Company.

Crooke, P., Hendrix, R., Rachman, J. (2007). Brief Report: Measuring the Effectiveness of Teaching Social Thinking® to Children with Asperger Syndrome (AS) and High Functioning Autism (HFA). Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders. Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Gray, C. (2010). The new social story book: Revised and expanded 10th anniversary edition. Arlington, TX: Future Horizons Inc.

Gray, C. (1994). Comic Strip Conversations. Jenison, MI: Jenison Public Schools.

Myles, B.S., Trautman, M.L, Schelvan, R.L., (2004) The Hidden Curriculum: Practical Solutions for Understanding Unstated Rules in Social Situations. Shawnee Mission, KS: Autism Asperger Publishing Company.

Williams, M.S., & Shellenberger, S. (1994). “How does your engine run?” A leader’s guide to the alert program for self-regulation. Albuquerque, NM: TherapyWorks, Inc.-the Alert Program

Winner, M.G. (2005). Think Social! San Jose, CA: Think Social Publishing Inc.

Winner, M.G. (2007). Thinking about YOU Thinking about ME. San Jose, CA: Think Social Publishing Inc.

Winner, M.G. (2008). A Politically Incorrect Look at Evidence-Based Practices and Teaching Social Skills: A literature review and discussion. San Jose, CA: Think Social Publishing Inc.

Zins, J. (2004). Building Academic Success on Social and Emotional Learning: What Does The Research Say? New York: Teacher’s College Press.

How did your team collaborate to create The Social Express?
There were over 20 people collaborating on this project. Skype, conference calls, and personal interaction is how the team stayed in touch.

How did The Social Express fill any kind of void in the app market?
In addition to using a cognitive behavioral approach, it has been stated that The Social Express is the highest quality production app made to date. The company exhausted it’s resources to present animation that meets Hollywood’s standards and content that would be effective in teaching people social-emotional skills.

Describe a success story using The Social Express with a child.
Mandy Nite, the creator of Welcome to Their World blog, shares encouraging results about her young daughter’s progress since working with The Social Express. Nite posted the following assessment on her blog: “This app has everything imaginable about social skills learning except Nite’s daughter, who will turn eight years old soon, has significant social skill problems, high functioning autism and ADHD.  Nite explains that after her daughter completed just half of The Social Express lessons, “She is starting to use what she learned in The Social Express in the real-world.”Nite continues, “I’m amazed everyday by the progress she’s made. She has even started to talk with other children one on one slowly with a little prompting and a few reminders of social skills but is getting the hang of it.”
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