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GrammarTrainer Demos

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GrammarTrainerI Demo
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GrammarTrainerIII Demo
GrammarTrainerIV Demo


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Katie and Jonah using GrammarTrainer






What Parents Say

"Grammar Trainer is going so well I wish we had it for math, too. It is the PERFECT way to teach Nat. We are on Lesson 10, and he now picks up the way to respond very quickly, using capital letters, pronouns, the whole bit! I love it!!! I never thought we'd get this far. "

(Susan Senator in Massachusetts, author of Just a Family: Finding Happiness in the Shadow of Autism)

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GrammarTrainer News

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  • GrammarTrainer software has been donated to a family with five autistic children to be featured on ABC's Extreme Makeover in February, 2007.
  • Drs. Katharine Beals and Felicia Hurewitz will give a poster presentation of GrammarTrainer at the annual A.B.A. (Association for Behavioral Analysis) Conference in Boston (February 2nd, 2007).

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The Theory & Teaching Strategy of GrammarTrainer

Most autistic children have serious trouble mastering the grammar of their native languages. While many of these children also suffer mental retardation, those who are linguistically impaired include a significant population with normal or above normal nonverbal IQ's-- what some people call "high functioning" autistic children. Recent research suggests that their language impairment is not itself a core deficit of autism, but rather a consequence of something that is a core deficit: a serious weakness in social reasoning and referencing (see, for example, Paul Bloom's How Children Learn the Meanings of Words). Non-autistic children pick up language naturally from their social surroundings; high functioning autistic children may be just as capable of learning language, but must do so by other means.

The same is true of children with hearing impairments or auditory processing difficulties, who are surrounded by a spoken language they have difficulty picking up, and yet are perfectly capable of learning language.

For many components of language--articulation, auditory processing, vocabulary, and pragmatics--autistic and auditorially impaired children require intensive one-on-one therapy and/or explicit teaching in the natural environment. There is, however, one key component of language that can be taught separately, in conjunction with these other interventions, but in a setting that is more conducive to the learning styles of these children and that doesn't require the intensive manpower of most other therapies. The component in question is GRAMMAR, or, more precisely, the capacity to put words together into meaningful, grammatical sentences-- an essential component of language and thought. The setting is the simplified, predictable, distraction-free, and highly visual world of a specially-tailored computer software program.

Drawing on the ease with computers and relative strengths in visual processing and printed-word recognition that are typical of high functioning autistic and auditorially-impaired children, the GrammarTrainer teaches English grammar through text and pictures. It shows a picture, asks a question about the picture, and prompts the child to click in an answer, word by word. First the child simply copies the correct answer from a list of possible choices; after he successfully completes this part of the lesson, GrammarTrainer gives him the same group of exercises in an "open choice" format, with no answers to choose from. The child, therefore, must now internalize his learning. Once he successfully completes this section he receives similar exercises which haven't appeared in multiple choice format. Now he must generalize his learning.

As he progresses the child accumulates points that he can cash in, in the real world, for whatever reward he and his parents have agreed upon and typed in at the beginning of the session. Once the child reaches the requisite number of points, also typed in by his parents ahead of time, a congratulatory message about this reward appears on the screen. This gives the parents total control over their child's motivation, allowing them to pick rewards as powerful and idiosyncratic as they deem necessary, and to integrate them seamlessly into each GrammarTrainer session.