Autism, Avatars and Alleviating Social Skills Disorders
Humans are social beings, having conversations, making friendships and developing communities. Social interaction is the key to our happiness. By definition, children with Autism Spectrum Disorder struggle to be socially appropriate and connected. If offered the opportunity to socialize through an avatar, we have found that children with ASD are motivated socially. This insight has been the impetus behind the creation of SiLAS (Socially Interactive Learning Avatar Software) for Social Skills. Through our presentation “Autism, Avatars, and Alleviating Social Skills Disorders” we will explore how avatars give special learners the opportunity to step outside themselves to utilize and practice the skills needed to be successful socially.
Bernadette Mullen, MA, CCC-SLP is a New Jersey licensed Speech-Language Pathologist. Bernadette is a highly qualified in her field and she is a nationally certified member of ASHA holding her Certificate of Clinical Competency. She has worked in the field of special education for 35 years. She has owned and operated Speech Start, a private practice in Hazlet, New Jersey for 18 years. In her practice, she specializes in providing evaluations and therapeutic intervention to children and teens with both speech and language disorders. She has extensive training in the areas of apraxia, language based reading disorders, autism spectrum disorder, behavior management and sensory processing disorders. She has worked on providing quality pragmatic therapy to children with social language disorders for many years. Bernadette is fluent in sign language and she has experience in the use of AAC.
Bernadette’s current professional focus is on social skills training programs. She is presently curriculum director for SILAS Solutions. This program is being implemented in multiple schools throughout the state for the purpose of improving special learners ability to socialize with their peers. The program includes both a computer program and a social skills curriculum.