Welcome to the spring edition of The PAR Connection. This newsletter is designed to highlight topics of interest to you, our Customer. In this issue, we focus on technology.
It’s hardly news to say that technology is changing the way we work—in fact, the only constant is change! New technology continues to raise challenging questions for psychologists, counselors, and educators. What are the implications of living in a wired world? How do we help our students and clients adapt to new ways of communicating, socializing, learning, and working? How can we take advantage of technology to effect positive change?
Some technologies that have been adopted by those in our profession were inconceivable only a few years ago. From speech-generating devices to screening apps, technology has come a long way.
Newer and more sophisticated Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) devices are opening new doors to communication for autistic children and their families. Vocabulary organizers and speech-generating devices are also helping children with developmental dyspraxia, traumatic brain injury, and other disorders that compromise communication. To learn more about these devices, the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) Web site AAC information page is a good place to start.
To support students with learning disabilities, the Reading Rockets Web site includes an overview of assistive technology, including products to consider within categories such as listening, organization and memory, and math.
Researchers at Georgia Tech’s Center for Behavior Imaging have developed new tools that they hope will lead to better assessment and treatment of children with neurological disorders. These tools include a system that uses special gaze-tracking glasses and facial-analysis software to identify when a child makes eye contact with the glasses-wearer; and a wearable system that uses accelerometers to monitor and categorize problem behaviors in children with behavioral disorders.
A promising new technology for adult clients is telehealth, a vehicle for providing psychological services through videoconferencing or other technologies to those who live in remote areas or whose mobility is limited. The Veterans Administration is using telehealth to eliminate some of the barriers that prevent members of the military from seeking help for feelings of distress or suicidal thoughts. (For the full story, see the August 7, 2012 PAR blog; see APA’s Research Roundup: Telehealth Applications in Psychology for a summary of recent telehealth research.)
At PAR, we strive to provide technology tools that help you better serve your students or clients. It was with this goal in mind that we created PARiConnect™, our new online assessment platform. PARiConnect provides access to the PAR assessment products you know and trust—in a simple, portable, easy-to-use format that makes administration, scoring, reporting, and record-keeping fast and accurate. PARiConnect requires no registration, annual, or licensing fees, and an introductory promotion is available. Visit www.pariconnect.com or call 1.800.331.8378 for more information.
Apps: If you’re thinking Angry Birds, think again! Some of the most respected institutions in our profession are recognizing that there is a place for apps in providing support to both children and adults.
Over the past few years, a plethora of behavioral and scheduling apps have emerged for children with special needs. Some of the best are reviewed on the special education resource blog The Friendship Circle. The Autism Speaks advocacy organization’s Web site offers a list of autism apps recommended by its members. The apps are organized by category (e.g., communication, behavioral intervention, social skills) along with platform and price information on every app.
The VA’s National Center for PTSD has developed an app called PTSD Coach, which helps clients learn about and manage symptoms that commonly occur after trauma. The Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory offers the 3D Brain app, an interactive model that shows how each brain region functions, what happens when each is injured, and how each is involved in mental illness.
For psychologists, the PAR Assessment Toolkit app provides tools such as a normal curve, a conversion chart, an age calculator, a stopwatch, and a compliancy calculator, as well as add-on score conversion modules for the BRIEF®, the MMSE®, the NEO™, and the PAI®. PAR’s MMSE/MMSE-2 app allows you to quickly screen for cognitive impairment in adults; scoring is instant, and norms by age and education level are included in the app. PAR also offers two apps that help users respond to potential concussions: the Concussion Recognition and Response™ app for parents and coaches and the Concussion Assessment and Response: Sport Version for health care professionals.
To focus on the unique relationship between psychology and technology, universities have begun to offer academic programs that combine the two. The MIT Initiative on Technology and Self works to raise the level of public discourse on the social and psychological dimensions of technological change, offering coursework and seminars that explore issues like technology and identity in adolescents, the effects of vituality, and psychoanalysis and digital culture.
How can we help our clients and students to use technology in ways that are productive and healthy? One of the world’s leading experts on the psychology of technology is Dr. Larry Rosen, Professor and Past Chair of the Psychology Department at California State University, Dominguez Hills. Dr. Rosen has written several books on the subject, including Rewired: Understanding the iGeneration and the Way They Learn. Dr. Rosen also writes a regular blog for Psychology Today about how technology influences family life, the workplace, education, and more; recent postings have included “Multi-tasking Madness,” and “The Amazing Power of Tech Breaks.”
From its modest beginnings in Bob and Cathy Smith's home years ago, PAR has grown into a leading publisher of psychological assessment materials designed to help our customers better serve their clients.