by Staff Writers

         Making a difference in the lives of autistic and special needs children requires dedication and skill. Our staff writers have selected six BESSIE Awards winners - forward-thinking products that provide high-interest curriculum to help achieve measurable levels of success.

· AutismPro (AutismPro)
· My School Day, School Rules! Vol.2, My Community (Social Skill Builder, Inc.)
· MangoMon (Learning Today)
· Vizzle (Monarch Teaching Technologies)
· FLRT (MindPlay)
· Diagnostic Online Math Assessment (Curriculum Associates)

One in 125! That's how many children are diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, according to some experts; and those numbers are predicted to increase in the future.  No one knows what causes autism and communication disorders, and there is no cure.  These six Showcase winners will help teachers, parents, and therapists educate these children more effectively.

         AutismPro is an online professional development platform designed to help educators answer two questions:  What is autism, and how do I help a child with autism?  It begins with basic content which explains autism, and gradually introduces more advanced techniques for developing a child's ability and preventing negative behaviors.  Using simple language, and illustrated with actual examples and video, AutismPro can be used in pre-service classrooms, or by individual teachers and parents on their own time.  AutismPro received an award for Special Education Staff Development Website.

         Winner of three BESSIE Awards for
Special Education software, Social Skill Builder, Inc. publishes My School Day for ages 5 to 12; School Rules! Vol.2 for ages 8 to 18; and My Community for older students.  Each CD-ROM teaches behavioral and social skills to help autistic children and students with communication disorders at every stage of their development.  My School Day uses age-appropriate video scenarios to teach classroom behavior, peer interaction, rules and rituals, and social emotions.  School Rules! Vol.2 helps secondary students cope with the more stringent demands of Middle and High School, teaching social awareness and interactions, with emphasis on proper language and behavior around lockers, cafeteria, friends, and time management.  My Community helps older students attain social success, instilling an awareness of safety, peer interactions, proper language, and appropriate social behavior and expectations.

         MangoMon is a website that offers free resources for special needs educators, with optional access to subscription-based Smart Tutor programs for teens, transition students, and young adults.  Smart Tutor assesses students' abilities in Reading/Math with a computer-adaptive placement system, and then creates an individualized learning path in every sub-skill.  Teachers can access reports of individual children, or a whole class, while parents can view their child's progress.  Visually appealing graphics illustrate concepts, making them understandable and motivating to students with communication disorders. 

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