Interview: Autism Software Recommended by Social Skills Director

Elif Cagin, Social Skills Director at New Vista School

We are always excited when parents, therapists and educators send us stories about positive experiences using our autism software social skills program.

Recently, we sat down with Elif Cagin an educator who uses our autism software learning program with her students. Elif highly recommends The Social Express to other educators.

She is the Social Skills Department Chair at the New Vista School for adolescents with autism here in Southern California.

We asked her to share with us how she uses The Social Express with her students. Here is part one of our interview with Elif Cagin. We’ll post the second part tomorrow.

 The Social Express: Tell us about yourself, your role at the school and the types of students you work with.

Elif Cagin: I received my Applied Behavior Analysis Post-Masters Certificate from Pennsylvania State University and plans to sit for BCBA exam in Spring 2012. Also, I received a Master’s Degree in Special Education, Mild/Moderate Education Specialist Instruction credential, CLAD Certification, and EL Authorization from Chapman University.

Additionally, I’m a trained and certified therapist – UCLA Program for the Enrichment of Relational Skills (PEERS). I attended University of California, Riverside and received her Bachelor Degree in Liberal Studies. Currently, I am  the Social Skills Department Chair at New Vista School, a school for adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorders.

I enjoy being active in my community serving as the Chair for Autism Speaks Orange County Chapter 2012-2013. I previously volunteered as School and Community Outreach Co-Chair for Autism Speaks Orange County Chapter 2010-2011.  My professional interests are in the remediation and support of developmental delays and the treatment of social and behavioral deficits in children, adolescents and young adults.

I have over 8 years of experience in the assessment, treatment, and education of children, adolescents, and young adults with a variety of developmental disabilities and behavior disorders in school, home, community, and clinic settings. I’ve presented with other professionals in the field on a variety of topics regarding social skills development- curriculum and instruction, effective autism behavioral teaching strategies, and special education strategies.

My work and on-going education has focused on helping my students and families achieve happier, more fulfilling lives and relationships.  I have passion for working with students with special needs began at a very young age. I have a younger adult sibling who is on the Autism spectrum and my family is my source of inspiration and encouragement.

TSE: How do you use The Social Express autism software program with your students?

Elif: In our classroom we use The Social Express program 3-4 days a week to enrich social skills concept development and encourage application and generalization. We play the program on an iPad and project the program on the classroom whiteboard.

We begin the lesson with direct instruction of the concept that will be the focus of the day and play the program. We pause the program for discussion and participation.

If needed, we scaffold questions for students so that we can target individual behavior and social goals. This program is appropriate for varying ability levels because you can enrich or modify your own instruction and use the modeling in program as a strong support for any social skill concept that is being taught.

TSE: What kinds of progress are you seeing if any, from using the program with your students?

Elif: Student attention and engagement in social skills concept development across the class period has increased noticeably. I have observed specific students that could only attend to a lesson for no more than 10 minutes with frequent prompting for participation now when using “The Social Express” attend for 15-20 minutes and participate independently.

Students request The Social Express.  I find this is a highly preferred mode of instruction support. I have observed students outside of class discussing concepts and using critical thinking skills when faced with or observe peers that are in similar situations as the characters in the program.

Academic teachers such as reading, math, science, and social studies have also observed application and discussion of behaviors and social skills that have been taught using The Social Express.

Stop by tomorrow for part two of our interview.