December 7, 2004

PRESS RELEASE: Multimedia Product for Children with Autism Launched

Press Release Source: Launch Into Learning

Multimedia Product for Children with Autism Launched
Monday December 6, 5:00 am ET

LONG ISLAND, N.Y., Dec. 6 /PRNewswire/ -- As awareness of autism has increased, the role of parents and home-based therapy has gained importance. Yet for parents of the more than 1 million American children with autism, finding appropriate resources for home use is a struggle.

Launch into Learning is helping to fill that void with Max and Friends, a multimedia skill-building program for children with autism and related disabilities. The innovative package uses DVDs, story books and music to present proven therapy-based exercises in a fun, simple format for children with special learning needs.

The number of parents looking for solutions is rising sharply. According to the Centers for Disease Control and the Department of Education, diagnoses of autism have increased over ten-fold in the last seven years and may grow to 1:100 children over the next four years.

"We'd lose the kids to Barney," says Karen Walsh, a Long Island autism therapist who, like many of her colleagues, had been taping her sessions for parents to use at home. "We desperately needed something with the structure of therapy, but the fun and humor of contemporary children's media."

Walsh served as an advisor to Launch Into Learning, a start up company in Greenlawn, New York, devoted to educational children's media. For its first product, Max and Friends, the company assembled an international team of children's television producers, writers and illustrators to ensure that the product was both fun and functional.

Max and Friends is organized into volumes of related skills. Volume 1 of the planned series focuses on Imitation, Commands, and Matching. Each skill is the focus of a DVD in which Max, the lead character, models skill building exercises in short interactive segments.

Three story books accompany the three DVDs, providing an additional opportunity to practice the featured skills. The package also includes an instructive manual designed to train parents in teaching, maintaining and generalizing the skills as well as a CD of eighteen children's songs.

Future volumes of Max and Friends will address more complex cognitive and linguistic skills and independent subjects such as safety and social skills.

Early response to Max and Friends has been enthusiastic. "It's an effective tool for teaching children with autism," says Theresa McGuire, a special education teacher in Long Island. "My students request Max and Friends as a reward."

The program also wins praise in homes beyond the autism community. "Max and Friends is an instant hit with my toddlers," says Charmaine Cox, mother of two children under four who are not developmentally challenged. "My younger child is learning new words, actions, colors and shapes. Both are interacting with the DVD's and singing along enthusiastically to the fun songs. It's a great family investment."

Max and Friends is available online at A percentage of the profits will be donated to autism groups. For more information, contact


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