April 17, 2024
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Penina Rybak’s Socially Speaking® Program Integrates iPad Into Autism Intervention in the iEra

Penina Rybak, MA/CCC-SLP, TSHH, is celebrating the 10th anniversary of the introduction of the iPad® into our world of technology. For Rybak, a practicing pediatric speech-language pathologist and an educational technology consultant for two decades, the introduction of the iPad® was a real game changer for children with autism, her specialty. One that followed her early collaboration with Apple™ in the ‘90s, integrating assistive technology and educational software into special education curricula for New York State. Upon its introduction, Rybak introduced the iPad® into her already-in-place Socially Speaking® program, available in her recently published textbook “Autism Intervention in the iEra.”

With these tools in hand, Rybak hit the road in 2011, traveling throughout North America, giving both full-day “iPad® Bootcamp Workshops” for those in the modern workplace and “iPad® Apps for Autism Intervention” for those professionals and parents in the special-education arena. In addition, her shared toolbox contains her 2014 published business book titled “The NICE Reboot: A Guide to Becoming a Better Female Entrepreneur.” It is based upon her travel and startup experiences and takeaways regarding balancing humanity and technology in the iEra.

As an ASHA certified, New York and New Jersey licensed, maverick school-based speech therapist, as well as a long-time “techie,” Rybak had a vision two decades ago. One that involved pairing toys and technology for better lessons and learning outcomes in children with autism. These children have a real appreciation for technology. These children are often inherently visual learners, who are often internally distracted and subsequently disoriented to person/place/time. Technology is predictable. Technology offers structured, recordable and repetitive teachable moments. Technology is intrinsically visual. So, technology really does help “fill in the blanks.”

Rybak’s understanding of autism and the power of technology led her to participate in the NY TRAID Project, in conjunction with the Westchester Institute of Human Development, from 1995 until 2000. Rybak spent that time working to integrate Apple™ technology into special-education classrooms. From 2008 until 2010 she spearheaded The Boardmaker™ Initiative, which worked on customizing curriculum needs and implementing behavior-management strategies at a charter school in New York. These experiences resulted in the creation and launch of her Socially Speaking™ social skills curriculum seminars, iPad® app and textbook. Rybak lectures nationally and internationally about customizing social communication strategies, the developmental integration of iPad® apps into the treatment of autism/special needs, and early childhood play-based assessment and intervention.

Upcoming on February 8 and 16, Rybak will be presenting two full-day seminars on her Socially Speaking® program. Both seminars are sponsored by Yachad, with whom Rybak has had an ongoing relationship for many years. It began when she was an undergraduate student at Stern College, serving as a Yachad adviser for shabbatonim in
Ellenville, New York. Professionally, it continued through her associations with Dr. Jeffrey
Lichtman, Yachad’s international director and the dean at the IVDU School, and Batya Jacob, director of educational support services and director of the International Jewish Resource Center for Inclusion and Special Education.

On Wednesday, February 8, from 8:30 a.m. until 4:15 p.m., at the Yachad IVDU School located at 1244 East 7th Street in Brooklyn, New York, Rybak will present a special education seminar for parents/professionals titled “Practical and Playful Social-Skills Strategies for Autism Intervention.” On Thursday, February 16, from 8:30 a.m. to 5PM p.m., Rybak will present an educational technology seminar for parents/professionals titled “iPad® and Autism Intervention: Which App When? Developmental Guidelines.” This seminar will take place at the Yachad Headquarters in Manhattan, located at 11 Broadway, 14th floor. Both seminars will offer a full day of ASHA CEUs for certified speech therapists, and a full day of New York State educational credits for teachers (see accompanying ad).

Past reviews of Rybak’s work have included the following comments about her seminars:

“Rybak’s goal is to help all seminar attendees learn to bridge gaps between readiness to learn and actual performance in children with autism/special needs, especially those with behavior challenges.”

“From assessment to goal planning, her comprehensive social skills curriculum helps the entire IEP team methodically and developmentally determine starting points for learning specific goals, in a very clear manner.”

Learn more about Rybak’s Socially Speaking™ Experience by visiting http://sociallyspeakingllc.com.

To plan your next professional development seminar featuring the Socially Speaking® program, email Penina Rybak at [email protected].

To learn more about Yachad and its events, email Batya Jacob at [email protected].

To register for either or both February seminars, connect to Eventbrite by visiting https://www.yachad.org/specialedconferences/.

By Pearl Markovitz


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