Technology at The Arc

The purchase of 42 iPad Mini 4s, new data-collection software and Alternative and Augmentative Communication (AAC) devices is having a positive impact on the lives of people with autism spectrum disorders and other developmental disabilities at The Arc Rockland. The initiative was funded by grants from The Arc Foundation of Rockland.


Photo ID:  Anthony Pavlacka, MA, BCBA, LBA, Director of Behavioral Support Services, The Arc Rockland, left,  and William Odera

“The software application, Proloquo2Go, a symbol-supported communication application, pairs images with words or phrases,” explains Anthony Pavlacka, Director of Behavioral Support Services at The Arc Rockland. “When a person using the app touches (selects) an image or series of images, a message is created, and the device speaks the message aloud. The emitted messages essentially become a functional means of communication. The individual is taught how to initiate requests, ask and answer questions and communicate more independently and functionally.”

Another program, entitled ChoiceWorks, is a picture-based learning tool that helps individuals complete and sequence daily routines, understand and control feelings, improve their waiting skills and make choices. “The app will be utilized to create individualized visual schedules. Activities are represented by symbols/images, organized into two columns. The First I Need To column depicts the activities that have yet to be completed. The All Done columns depict activities that have been completed. Users are taught to create their own schedule, and indicate when activities are completed, independently navigating to the next activity on their schedule,” remarks Mr. Pavlacka. “People like having control over their daily routine.”

The app also enables video, to utilize video modelling as a teaching method, users can play video, displaying appropriate steps to perform a functional skill (e.g. setting a table, brushing teeth, etc.). Ultimately, the use of the video will be faded (reduced) over time, as the individual becomes more independent in performing the skill.

Apps are also used to create social stories designed to assist in navigating new situations. “If, for example, someone were to visit a doctor with whom they are unfamiliar, we could create a visual narrative to show, step-by-step, what the experience might look like,” explains Mr. Pavlacka.

Staff members in The Arc Rockland’s Abilities Beyond Autism program use iPads with software that securely tracks the progress of individuals with disabilities whom they support. Catalyst, a data-collection and practice management application, enables users to electronically record data and monitor the progress of individual learners.  “Technology is helping us help people achieve goals and overcome challenges,” remarks Mr. Pavlacka.

In addition to iPads, The Arc acquired hand-held adapted switches and augmentative communication boards which can be pre-programmed to vocalize phrases.

Says Mr. Pavlacka, “Technology opens the doors to greater independence for people with developmental disabilities.”


Thank You to The Arc Rockland’s 2020 Corporate Sponsors: