Julie Roumeliote
Expert Name: Julie Roumeliote
Expert Title: Julie Roumeliote
Company Name:  Special Learning, Inc.
Company URL: www.special-learning.com
Short Bio: Julie Roumeliote is the communications manager at Special Learning. She received her bachelor’s degree in communications from The Ohio State University. Prior to working at Special Learning, Julie was as an in-home independent provider for children with autism spectrum disorders.

Thoughts from the Field: Engaging the Autism Community at OCALI & ASHA

Last week was an exciting one for Special Learning and our sister agency, Step By Step, as we were able to participate in two major conferences that benefit the autism community, including OCALI and the ASHA Convention.

At the annual OCALI conference in Columbus, Ohio, where we exhibited and presented, we were pleased with the turn out that we saw in the exhibition halls, research symposium and thematic break-out sessions. Our experts were able to talk to members in the educational community including teachers, administrators, aides, and therapy providers who gave us valuable information to help strengthen our pursuit of providing the best possible solutions for educators, who continue to work tirelessly to offer superior service to individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

As innovators and developers of comprehensive evidence-based products and services that are specifically designed to meet the needs of the growing population of individuals with ASD, it is essential for us to know what the community needs to better service this population. By meeting with them and sharing information, we learned more about their specific needs, including the need for products and services geared toward transitioning adolescents into adulthood. We’ve had our hand on the pulse of this growing need prior to OCALI, but by talking with people who serve these individuals on a daily basis, we were able to narrow down their needs as to what tools will help them educate and assist individuals in becoming more successful and functioning adults.

The ASHA convention provided Special Learning with the opportunity to engage with the nation’s top speech and hearing professionals who are committed to making a difference in the lives of all individuals with hearing and speech difficulties. As developers of touch technology applications that aid in communication and social skills, we are constantly adapting to the needs of the autism community in efforts to provide the best solutions. Hearing the experiences of speech pathologists as they assist
individuals in learning to communicate effectively allows us to further our product development to meet these needs.

Special Learning was also thrilled to have the opportunity to give OCALI & ASHA participants a sneak peak at our Transition Curriculum, a comprehensive planning guide, lesson plan and workbook for adolescents with autism or other disabilities. In response to the needs of these individuals and those who are teaching them the skills necessary, we have designed this curriculum to teach all of the functional living skills necessary to navigate adulthood successfully. In addition to transition planning, we also presented conference participants with a sneak peek at the first of a series of social stories designed for the adolescent and young adult population, which addresses the topics of human development, sexuality and puberty. We are excited to give educators, parents and providers the tools to cover this difficult topic and help increase understanding and knowledge in the individuals that they service, and the feedback we received was encouraging.

Special Learning will debut its full transition curriculum in 2013 and release a series of human development and sexuality social stories at the beginning of the new year. Please check our website for more exciting product releases, or write to contact@special-learning.com for more information.