Autism Language Program Research and Development Timeline

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  • Lynne Moran

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Research and development timeline


2014-Enhancing Communication for Individuals with Autism
A Guide to the Visual Immersion System

Comprehensive text detailing the clinical assessment and intervention program (The Visual Immersion System) designed, applied and researched in the Autism Language Program.  It is scheduled for publication in mid -2014 by Brookes Publishing Company.


2013 - MSTARR
Advanced app custom designed first – then displays (with embedded timer and count-down boards) and daily schedules. M-STARR allows for innovative Just-in-Time (JIT) wireless delivery of alerts and reminders. Licensed to SpecialNeedsWare, LLC.


2013 - Symboltalk
State-of-the-art communication app by which graphic symbols can be retrieved through speech recognition or touch. Mentors can send messages consisting of language elements as well as dynamic or static scene cues wirelessly to a learner’s mobile device. The ALP Animated Graphic set can be retrieved from the program’s symbol library. Licensed to SpecialNeedsWare, LLC.


2013 - Puddingstone Learning Adventure
An interactive virtual world intended to teach difficult to learn language concepts, symbol syntax, and activities of daily living. Animated characters help the learner navigate each environment and learn new concepts. Licensed to SpecialNeedsWare, LLC.

Visual Communication Symbol Set (VCSS) is an expansion of the ALP Animated Graphics (AAG). This new set of animated graphics contains dynamic graphic depictions for over 350 action verbs and prepositions. It also includes animated representations for the most common adjectives. This new set also includes representative sounds for many of the action verbs.

Introduce Video Modeling (VOL), a software application that helps individuals learn new behavioral skills in a two-step learning process (View & Do). An onscreen highlighter helps the learner focus on key portions of the video.

Introduce ALP Animated Graphics (AAG), a set of dynamic graphic depictions for over 100 action verbs and prepositions. The graphic images were created using a consistent theme for agents and objects in order to optimize acquisition of these hard to learn language concepts.

Introduce Teaching Language Concepts (TLC), a software application that teaches action verbs, prepositions and descriptors. The selection of a logical sequence of graphic symbols (composed of essential language elements) leads to an associated video clip. An important option of the application is a personalization feature whereby video clips and still images reflecting personalized content can be easily uploaded into the program’s image warehouse.

Introduce Learning Together with Music, a software program with music, games and visual supports to help acquire and improve language for children with language/learning difficulties.

Introduce Puddingstone Place, an interactive virtual environment for teaching vocabulary and language skills to children with a variety of developmental disabilities.

Introduce Two-way Observational Learning as a clinical tool for persons with autism.


Remotely deliver AAC over the Internet to modify software at an off-site location.

Develop the Boston Children's Hospital Medical Symbol Set.


Develop visual-based curriculum in a collaborative affiliation with Monarch School for Children with Autism.


Develop first clinical application using scene and element cues for persons with autism.

Develop EyeWare, an eye gaze communication system for persons with severely limited motor control.

Develop Companion, the first clinical application of graphical metaphor (currently known as a visual scene display) in AAC.


Establish the Boston Children's Hospital Model for AAC in the Intensive Care Unit featuring the first focused use of Voice and Message Banking for patients who will experience a short or long term loss of speech skill.

Develop Freestyle, the first AAC device with a computer operating system.

Develop LINK, a portable alphanumeric device with speech output for persons with good access to the keyboard, but poor speech output.


Develop MultiPhone, an AAC-based telephone for the world market.


Conduct double-blind studies and create clinical protocols for establishing the actual author during facilitated communication (FC). Research contributes to the debunking of the FC phenomenon.

After a partnership with Digital Equipment Corporation, develop MultiVoice, the first voice synthesizer developed expressly for persons with disabilities. The MultiVoice uses high quality dec-talk speech.


Develop WriteAway, the first word prediction, word processing software program for persons with language learning disabilities, after determining a clinical need for a software program that would help author predict the spelling of words.

Develop VoisShapes?, an AAC software application that uses graphic elements of American Sign Language to create words and phrases.

Mobile Outreach Program hits the road, the first mobile AAC clinic dedicated to providing service to less mobile persons and more rural communities.


Introduce voice banking in clinical practice at the Communication Enhancement Center and inpatient population at Boston Children's Hospital.

Introduce the first clinical application of voice recognition for persons with spinal cord injuries.

Feature matching as a diagnostic tool is introduced in routine clinical practice at the Communication Enhancement Center.


Communication Enhancement Center, the first center in the United States dedicated to AAC, opens at Boston Children's Hospital.

Develop Message Maker-Scanning software, allowing persons who were unable to use a keyboard to efficiently construct messages. As a cursor reached the desired letter, the user could activate a switch to bring up the list of possible word choices.

Develop Message Maker-Keyboard software allowing persons with motor disabilities to efficiently construct messages using a computer keyboard. When a letter is selected, the list of words beginning with that letter become available for selection.

Mount an Apple IIe on the wheelchair of 15-year-old Tony Bonfiglio, a child with cerebral palsy. This was the first general purpose computer ever mounted on a wheelchair used as a communication device.


Develop Target, the first general purpose computer software program that uses scanning for people with physical disabilities.


Develop the Election Decision Matrix, the first systematic approach for establishing candidacy for augmentative and alternative communication (AAC).

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