2018 National Indie Excellence Award Finalist!
Award-winning Finalist in the Children's Educational category of the 2018 International Book Awards!
The Conversation Club curriculum provides a comprehensive instructional framework for teaching both the “how” and “why” of conversation. It is designed to target the needs of elementary-aged children with high functioning autism (HFA) and other social cognition challenges. As a result of brain-based differences, individuals with HFA experience significant social cognitive impairments that interfere with the development of conversation skills. The Conversation Club curriculum uses an adapted version of the Teaching Interaction Procedure (TIP) framework. TIP is a model for instruction that includes providing a rationale for why learning a skill is important, breaking each skill into its component parts, demonstrating/modeling the skill, and providing opportunities for students to practice the skill with scaffolded support, feedback, and reinforcement. Conversation Club members have a clubhouse, secret passwords, and club rules. The Conversation Club is comprised of eight units, each beginning with a “social story” that introduces club members to a new character who represents a critical skill, followed by activities that offer explicit instruction in each of the skills necessary for successful conversation. Fun and interesting characters including Friendly Freddy, Paco the Parrot, and Listening Lisa are introduced in each of the eight units. Seven key goal areas are targeted - perspective taking and social motivation; environmental awareness and body readiness; conversation initiation and topic selection; topic maintenance; active listening behaviors and attention to conversation; gaining attention behaviors; and conversation breakdown and repair strategies. The book includes The Conversation Club’s Progress Report, a checklist for instructors to use to gather baseline data as well as monitor progress during the course of the intervention.
About the Authors
Lynn Cannon, M.Ed., is a social learning specialist at The Ivymount School and The Maddux School. Ms. Cannon received her master’s degree in special education from the University of Virginia. For more than 15 years, she has worked as an educator, administrator and program director, serving students with neurodevelopmental disabilities. Ms. Cannon is also a coauthor of Unstuck and On Target: An Executive Function Curriculum to Improve Flexibility for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (Paul H. Brookes Publishing Co., 2011) and Solving Executive Challenges: Simple Ways to Get Kids with Autism Unstuck and on Target (Paul H. Brookes Publishing Co., 2014), a resource guide for teachers and parents. Her research and teaching interests are in developing interventions and support materials for students with neurodevelopmental disabilities, therapists, educators and their families. She is currently working with federal grant to develop IvySCIP, an assessment, individualized education program development tool, and curricular resource for children with neurodevelopmental disabilities.
Jonna Clark MS,OTR/L has been motivated and challenged to work with children of all abilities within the field of occupational therapy. She received her Bachelor’s degree in occupational science and Master’s degree in occupational therapy from Ithaca College. Following graduation, Jonna worked at The Ivymount School where she worked with students in grades K-6 as well as the post-high-school program, and this also provided the opportunity to create, implement, and participate in the research for the Conversation Club Curriculum. This multi-disciplinary approach to creating curriculum has been invaluable and provided presentation opportunities including ASHA and Social Thinking Providers Conference. She is currently the Occupational therapy lead in Renton School District in Renton, WA.
Courtney Kornblum, M.A., CCC-SLP, TSSLD, enjoys working in the rewarding field of Speech Language Pathology. She graduated with honors from The Pennsylvania State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Communication Sciences and Disorders, and a minor in Human Development and Family Studies. She received her Master of Arts degree in Speech and Hearing Sciences from The George Washington University. Currently, Courtney is the Department Head of the Speech Language Pathology Team at The Parkside School in New York, NY, where she works with elementary school children with a range of language based learning difficulties. She is extremely passionate about helping her students understand and navigate the social world around them and reach their academic potential. Courtney previously served as a Speech Language Pathologist at The Ivymount School and The Maddux School in Rockville, MD, where she worked with a transdisciplinary team to create and implement The Conversation Club Curriculum. She has had the esteemed opportunity to present nationally at the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association’s National Convention as well as The Social Thinking Provider’s Conference.
Dr. Eve Müller
is responsible for coordinating in-house research projects and documenting curricular outcomes for Ivymount School and Programs. She is also one of the authors of the Ivymount Social Cognition Instructional Package (IvySCIP). She completed her doctoral work at the University of California at Berkeley, and her background is in autism research, especially as it relates to improving social cognition in students with high functioning autism, and special education policy. Dr. Müller’s work has been published in a number of peer-reviewed journals, including the Journal of Autism and Development Disorders; Autism: The International Journal of Research and Practice; Focus on Autism and Other Developmental Disorders; The Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation; and Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools. She has also presented at national and regional conferences. Prior to beginning work at Ivymount, she worked as a Senior Policy Analyst at the National Association of State Directors of Special Education (NASDSE) where she published more than 70 articles relating to special education policy, and helped coordinate policy forums and webinars on critical issues in the field.
has been a licensed social worker for over 20 years and specializes in working with children and adolescents with emotional and developmental disabilities, and their families. Mrs. Powers is also a Registered Play Therapist and believes in the powerful influence of play on learning and healing. She is a former Ivymount School employee and currently works for the Montgomery County Public School System. Creating this publication with these amazingly talented women has been an exciting journey. Mrs. Powers enjoys eating sushi, going to the beach and traveling with her husband and two teenage sons.
For more than 55 years, Ivymount has created nationally recognized programs and partnerships for people with autism and special needs as well as their families. The goal in all their programs is to help children, students, and young adults achieve their highest level of development and independence. In addition to creating our own education and outreach programs, Ivymount forms partnerships with other organizations and researchers, often functioning as a training site, to ensure that their innovative and intensive approach is widely disseminated and influences the larger field of special education and support services.