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Apps for Autism

#sxsw #autismatx

Autism is a complex neurobiological disorder typically characterized by communication, social, and behavioral delays. The market for assistive technology that posits solutions for these challenges burgeons. With current CDC stats estimating that 1 in 88 people have an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), the potential for continued growth in this expanding market is real. Quality, interactive apps that facilitate communication and social interaction have a place in unlocking some of the challenges of ASD. Expert panelists will provide an overview of the need for assistive, instructional technology for people with ASD, existing apps commonly used for/by individuals with Autism, pluses and minuses, funding sources for assistive technology, what’s lacking (funding sources), what’s missing, and what’s next. Selection of assistive devices for a variety of special needs will be addressed.



Melissa Olive, Ph.D., BCBA-D, “Missy”, is co-founder and owner of Applied Behavioral Strategies, LLC.

Missy served as Vice-President, President-Elect, President, and Past President of the Texas Council for Exceptional Children, a state unit of the Council for Exceptional Children. She also served on the Executive Board for the Division of Early Childhood for 3 years.

Missy currently serves on the Editorial Board of Topics in Early Childhood Special Education and Young Exceptional Children. She served on the Editorial Board of the Journal of Early Intervention for 8 years and she is a frequent guest reviewer for the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders.

Missy has published 30 peer-reviewed articles and book chapters focusing on topics related to behavior analysis including assessment and treatment of challenging behaviors, communication intervention, and feeding disorders.

Missy’s current professional interests relate to parent and teacher training to address challenging behaviors and communication delays, personnel development related to applied behavior analysis and communication intervention, as well as state and federal policy related to individuals with disabilities. Following the invention of the iPad and various applications, Missy has become a leading expert on using technology to aid with instruction in the area of communication and academics. Missy also has a strong interest in family issues related to children with disabilities. Since 1993, she has cared for and advocated on behalf of her brother, Mac, an adult with autism and intellectual disability.


Betsy Furler Training and Therapy Coordinator Communication Circles And/Or Bridging Apps

Betsy is a speech pathologist and autism consultant with 20 years of experience in a variety of settings. She graduated from Austin College with a BA in Psychology and Sociology and from the University of Texas at Dallas with a MS in Communication Disorders. She also holds a Texas teaching certificate and is a certified PLAY Project consultant. In 2010, she began using the iPod Touch and iPad in therapy sessions. Her use of these mobile devices has expanded to include training educators to use them in the classroom. Betsy lives in Houston with her husband and two sons, Henry and Sam.

Sami Rahman Co-Founder Easter Seals Greater Houston

Sami Rahman is the co-founder of, a program of Easter Seals of Greater Houston, that helps parents, therapists, doctors, and teachers share information on how to use mobile devices like the iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch and Android devices with people who have special needs. works with people worldwide to help them create more impact with the technology they employ for special needs users.  Mr. Rahman has certification in an Assistive Technology Applications Program offered by California State University and Mobile Devices for Children with Disabilities from TCEA.   Mr. Rahman is also the Author of Getting Started: iPads for Special Needs book.

Mr Rahman is currently on sabbatical as CEO of eDirect Impact, a leading information management consulting company.  Mr. Rahman has significant experience in the legal industry with a particular expertise in content management and litigation support with an emphasis on electronic discovery.  Mr. Rahman has consulted with firms on multiple continents and has been an active participant in several industry initiatives, including the EDRM Project.  Mr. Rahman has extensive experience with concept search technology, enterprise search and database platforms, and is frequently an invited guest at CLE’s and other speaking engagements.