Bierman ABA Autism Center and Bluebee Pals

Bierman ABA Autism Center is an innovative provider of personalized and intensive services for children with Autism in the areas of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), Speech & Language, Occupational and Physical therapies. The center’s multiple locations include Boston, Indianapolis, Fort Wayne and Rhode Island. Founded by, Courtney Bierman in 2006, Bierman ABA is focused on staying true to their mission of being “the best provider of early intensive behavioral intervention in a center-based setting for children with autism.” Bierman ABA provides services to children up to 13 years of age with programs designed to help children learn skills across all areas of development for success in all settings.

How do they provide all of this? By caring deeply about the employee culture of their 180+ therapists and staff. 

Bierman employees are guided to work with Passion, be a Team Player, be Motivated, be Principled, be Curious and have Fun! The staff’s ongoing training and evaluations with use of their Skills Development System (SDS), team of Behavior Analysist designing clinical programs, focus on naturalistic teaching and school readiness make it clear to see why Bierman ABA has received numerous awards and accolades. Bierman ABA’s is a wildly successful model for how to create a setting where employees are inspired to make a lasting impact and help transform the lives of children with Autism.

Kayle Concepts finds the mission of Bierman ABA inspiring and quite similar to our mission to provide an educational tool that can help children with special needs reach their highest potential. We donated Bluebee Pals via the Bluebee Pal Project to all of the Indianapolis and Boston centers and the outcome is better than we could have ever imagined!

Bluebee Pals were used daily during by Behavior Technicians and Analysts at the Bierman Centers. Speech-language Pathologists, Occupational and Physical Therapists at the centers also used the Bluebee Pals to engage children during 1:1 therapy.

The goals targeted were endless including:

  • Turn-Taking
  • Feeding
  • Group and Joint Attention
  • Gross Motor Skills
  • Expressive and Receptive Language
  • Expanding Preferences
  • Increasing Tolerance of Non-Preferred Activities
  • Expanding Social Settings

Bluebee Pal helped the children engage by reading books, playing music, helping them “eat” during feeding therapy, and even DJ-ing at dance parties!

Best of all are the positive effects Bluebee Pal has provided for so many of the children at the center.

  • Increased Attention During Group Activities
  • Increased Tolerance of Peer Activities
  • Increased Duration of Engagement with Non-Preferred Tasks
  • Increased Attention to Communication Partner Instead of Electronic Item
  • Increased Participation in Feeding Therapy


We can’t thank the therapists and support staff at Bierman ABA Autism Center for inspiring us in our quest to help make education and therapy interactive and fun!



The Next Level with Dr. Howard C Shane

Dr. Howard C Shane is a world-renowned pioneer in the world of Autism. He is an Associate Professor of Otology and Laryngology at Harvard Medical School and Director of the Center for Communication Enhancement and the Autism Language Program at Children’s Hospital Boston at Waltham. Dr. Shane has been a researcher in the field of Alternative Augmentative Communication (AAC) for over 30 years and is the creator of dozens of computer applications to that increase communication and learning for individuals with Autism. 


These include Touch ‘N Speak, Microsofts HandiWare, Starbright World and the Visual Immersion System. Dr. Shane’s many collaborations include being a Director of the Monarch Center for Autism and Model Autism Program (MAP) with Boston Public Schools.

Bluebee Pals is taking it to the next level with Dr. Howard Shane in the coming weeks! Dr. Shane and his team are set to begin researching the effectiveness of using Bluebee Pals with children with Autism. Bluebee Pals will be used during speech-language therapy sessions at Children’s Hospital Boston.

Kayle Concepts is honored to be part of this important and innovative research focused on the use of technology to help persons with Autism reach their highest potential! Thank you, Dr. Howard C Shane for the vast body of work and dedication to those with communication impairments and for letting us be part of your journey!

Alternative Augmentative Communication (AAC)

Alternative Augmentative Communication (AAC) & Core Words

The world of Alternative Augmentative Communication (AAC) has been evolving and progressing at a rapid pace. AAC is the use of a method of communication other than verbal language. “Alternative” indicates that the system is being used as an alternative to verbal language and “augmentative” indicates that the system is being used to supplement verbal language. AAC users may be completely non-verbal, have limited verbalizations, and/or have vast verbal language that is unclear to communication partners. AAC modes include the use of photos or symbols on communication boards and books as well as low (paper overlays on electronic boards) and high tech communication devices (touchscreen devices). High-tech devices used to be only provided by a limited number of companies that created the hardware (tablet) and software (communication vocabulary system) at a very high cost.



The invention of tablets such as the iPad/iTouch and Android devices have made high-tech AAC even more accessible and affordable. Users can communicate their wants/needs, make statements, ask questions and participate in social interactions with the use of their Alternative Augmentative Communication system


At the start, the field of AAC often focused on teaching AAC users to request highly desired items like food or toys and labeling nouns and verbs.

The vocabulary taught and used was often very specific such as “I want cracker”, “bathroom”, “ball”. Over time a vast amount of research has guided therapists, users, and caregivers towards more effective AAC use.

What we have learned is that 80% of the words we use in English to communicate across various settings are not specific nouns and verbs, but instead what we call “core words”. Core words are frequently occurring abstract words that can be used to communicate many messages across many topics. They are words like “it”, “go”, “you”, “see”. Many low-tech and high-tech AAC systems are providing core word vocabulary to the user on their front or home page to allow fast and effect communication across all settings. Just one look at a well-known AAC website will help you to see how core word use is really at the forefront of the AAC world!

The more AAC users hear and see core vocabulary being used by their communication partners on their devices and the more they are aided to use it themselves, the more they will be able to communicate with the world! Bluebee Pals are a great tool for use with AAC apps and core words. Simply connect your Bluebee Pal via Bluetooth connection to your iPad with communication app. As the AAC user activates buttons on their communication app, Bluebee will speak. What a fun way to hear your “voice” being used!

Encouraging Communication at Home

core word board

Opportunities and need to communicate are all around us.

Our daily routines at home allow for many communication opportunities we may not notice at first glance. Free time, even if limited, can also be language rich. Children with language delays/deficits and related disabilities need as many of these opportunities as we can help provide. A useful strategy is to name and label items around the home. Modeling the names of items when eating dinner, doing the household chores, reading books and even driving in the car can significantly increase vocabulary skills. Many families label household items with words and pictures (google images is your best friend!) to increase identification and naming. Repeating and rephrasing also help to model language skills. When your little one comes to you with the remote, you can respond with “Oh, do you want me to turn on the tv?” followed by modeling a functional way to ask “Say, On Please”. It can be difficult to take the extra moment to model and require requesting and labeling-but so effective! Your child will learn that they can get their needs and wants to be met very effectively with the words you model. During household chores, children can work on receptive language/understanding skills. Give them simple directions to follow (Get the shirt and bring it here) as you fold laundry or clean the kitchen. And how about during the small amounts of free time we are able to carve out? These are the most engaging times to work on communication skills. Pretend play with a farm, blocks or a dollhouse is the perfect time to continue modeling the names of items, giving directions to follow (get the duck and put it in the barn) and practice turn-taking. Many simple words can be taught during play with bubbles (pop, blow, up, down, more, your turn, my turn), car play (go, stop, up, down, fast, slow) and even on the playground (go, run, jump, swing, help, more, want). Our kids may need models or extra time to respond with appropriate language during these play activities, but often catch on quickly when the activity is motivating! So begin looking around when you are home with your child that has language needs. What can you name them? What can you ask them to do? How can you model and require increased language? What language can you encourage during play? Even 10 minutes a day of a language-rich environment at home will help to carry over the important communication skills we long for our kids to achieve!

Check out the AssistiveWare Core Word Classroom for many resources to encourage language with verbal and nonverbal children!


By: Punam Desormes, M.A., CCC-SLP 
Speech Language Pathologist
Princeton House Charter School

Technology and Helping Children with Autism

Technology and Autism

Our lives are intertwined with technology daily. From email to smartphones, tablets to touch screens computers, virtual reality viewers to GPS enabled devices – technology is everywhere and ever-changing. Schools (including Princeton House Charter School in Orlando, FL) and therapy centers around the nation are noting the success achieved when students are provided opportunities for learning and interaction via technology. Parents are also turning to technology to engage their children with Autism and keep them safe. Autism Speaks, for example, has a list of locating devices that can be used for children that elope (

Home security packages and “smart home” devices allow parents and adults to gain information and control home appliances just by speaking to a small device. Not only can these home devices help with safety (locking your doors and alerting you of entries/exits) but also to turn on shows, play music, answer questions, and create sensory friendly environments. For example, the Phillips Hue is a wireless lighting device that helps you to create the perfect ambiance for every moment ( Kids, including students with Autism, love interacting with these smart devices by asking questions and controlling their environment. For a child that may sometimes feel out of control, these devices can be very rewarding.

In the classroom setting, students with limited verbal skills and those that learn better with visual representations can interact with Smart Boards, computers with touch screens and iPads with educational apps. At Princeton House Charter School, students have access to Promethean interactive tables with touch interfaces. They also explore new environments and experiences with our virtual reality viewers. Many students with Autism have difficulty visualizing stories for listening comprehension and writing activities. Our teachers use virtual reality viewers and interactive table experiences as “writing prompt”. It is often easier for our students to describe scenes they visually and tactically experienced minutes prior.

Technology is taken even further through Augmentative Alternative Communication (AAC). Students with limited verbal language use low and high tech devices to communicate their wants/needs and participate in academics. Low tech devices include speech generating devices such as switches (, AAC devices with paper overlays (, communication boards and books. Students can press buttons to formulate messages with pre-recorded voice output.

High tech AAC devices include dynamic display touch screens house a vast array of words and phrases with picture symbols and/or typing options ( These devices allow students with Autism to communicate with their teachers, peers and family members quickly and effectively. The invention of iPad and Android tablets have blown up the world of AAC with greater access and cheaper prices. Apps such as Proloquo2Go and GoTalk have help students with Autism gain their voice more than ever before! Seeing a student learn the power of communication via an AAC device is one amazing experience that just keeps on giving.



Technology, whether used in our daily lives or with persons with Autism, is an invaluable tool that will surely continue to transform all our lives!


Punam Desormes, M.A., CCC-SLP
Speech Language Pathologist
Princeton House Charter School

Reading Comprehension & Bluebee Pals

Reading comprehension is an integral part of the reading intervention
provided to students in school daily. States even mandate how many minutes of reading intervention students must receive. At Princeton House Charter School(Orlando, Florida) many of our students with Autism struggle with reading comprehension. They often have difficulty understanding the Wh-Questions and are unable to answer them after listening to a story. Our teachers have been focusing on intervention to help students understand the difference between each type of Wh-Question.

                                                     We use visual supports and Wh-Question apps throughout reading activities. One such app is “Autism iHelp Wh-Questions”. It allows the instructor to choose types of Wh-Questions to ask with vivid picture choices. Recently, a teacher assistant was using this app for her small group during reading.

Autism iHelp is a vocabulary teaching aid developed by parents of a child with Autism and a speech-language pathologist. Autism iHelp was inspired by the need for specific language intervention tools for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder focusing on their unique strengths and difficulty with expressive vocabulary.

The students, who usually love doing anything on the iPad were really struggling to maintain attention to the task. What did she do? Bluebee to the rescue! The teacher assistant stopped the activity and connected Bluebee to the app via the easy to use the Bluetooth connection. She resumed the task with Blubee giving the instruction. Viola! The students were excited to see their friend Bluebee and began attending to the task and answering the Wh-Questions. At Princeton House Charter School we must do a ton of preplanning and have activities set up and ready to go for our students. Even with all that planning, we constantly need to assess our student’s engagement and motivation during tasks. Without attention, there is no learning. Bluebee helps us to be flexible and make quick changes to bring our students back to a “ready to learn” state.


Princeton House Charter School-Orlando, Florida

Carissa Thompson – Teacher***Shannon Westfield – Teacher Assistant***Megan McGovern-Speech Language Pathologist Assistant


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