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The Academy for Autism is a private school serving up to 60 school-age students with Autism Spectrum Disorders in Orlando, Florida. Founded in 2005 by two parents with Autism, the Autism Academy has focused on providing affordable specialized private education for low and middle-income families via research-based curriculum in classrooms set up with the TEACCH Model ( https://www.autism.com/treating_TEACCH ). The Academy for Autism also houses a therapy clinic on-site where students receive speech-language, occupational and physical therapies throughout the school day.
The Academy for Autism recently became a Bluebee Pals Project site and received 16 brand new Bluebee Pal Pros for use in the classroom and therapeutic settings. I had the pleasure of meeting with the Academy for Autism team just after the donated Bluebee Pals arrived! The team of teachers, teacher assistants, speech and occupational therapists gathered to learn about how to incorporate Bluebee Pals into their academic and therapeutic activities to increase engagement and participation. Several therapists and teachers had already paired their Bluebee Pals to classroom tablets and cell phones to play their student’s favorite songs and academic apps. Together we explored this tech tool deeper and discovered many ways that the Bluebee Pals could enhance lessons they were already providing daily. 
The occupational therapists shared that many of her students were working on handwriting goals. These tasks can be tedious and boring for some students. – Bluebee Pals to the rescue! Bluebee Pals can be paired with apps such as Handwriting Heroes and Kiddopia – ABC for students to work on letter tracing while their plush friend talks and sings along. When paper and pencil handwriting tasks are required, Bluebee Pal can add excitement by “telling” students what letters to write via letter songs and text-to-speech apps controlled by the therapist or teacher.
TouchMath Counting app came to life when paired with Bluebee Pals by an Academy for Autism classroom teacher. TouchMath,(www.touchmath.com) a leading multi-sensory math teaching approach, is frequently used to help students with special needs learn numbers and operations. When paired with the app, Bluebee provided fun and interactive auditory feedback as the user activated touch points on TouchMath numbers. 
The Academy for Autism teachers got some laughs in when using Google Hangouts to surprise each other with Bluebee to Bluebee calls! From there the teachers and staff did what they do best, kept the creative juices flowing as they came up with numerous apps and activities to use as they begin their journey within the Bluebee Pals Project! We can’t wait to see what they come up with!

****Punam is a Speech Therapist and Teacher/Mentor for kids with Autism. As a strong advocate of Bluebee Pals, she will be tailoring insightful articles and reviews of products that she has handpicked to go hand-in-hand with Bluebee, helping your child advance.

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