(June 8, 2012 – Winooski, VT) Laureate Learning Systems, a company dedicated to developing innovative software for individuals with special needs, is pleased to announce that its Founder and President Dr. Mary Sweig Wilson will receive the 2012 Special Award from the American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (AAIDD). This Award is given in recognition of her significant achievements and many contributions to the field of developmental disabilities. Dr. Wilson will accept this Award at the 136th AAIDD Annual Meeting on June 20 in Charlotte, NC.
Since the beginning of her professional career more than 40 years ago, Dr. Wilson has been passionate about improving clinical services for children and adults with language disorders. As a professor at the University of Vermont, she prepared students to become speech-language pathologists while initially leading the Program in Speech-Language Pathology and later the Department of Communication Science & Disorders. As former student Deborah Finn explained, “Dr. Wilson’s forward thinking and passion in the areas of language development and language disorders were my inspiration to become a speech-language pathologist. Now as her colleague, I treasure her brilliance, curiosity, creativity, and tireless efforts to facilitate how people with disabilities learn language.”
Fundamental to her approach then, as now, was the idea that contemporary linguistic theory and language research provide the most promising foundation for effective language assessment and intervention materials. In 1972, Dr. Wilson developed the Wilson Initial Syntax Program which was the first published language intervention program based on Noam Chomsky’s work in syntactic theory as described by the Aspects model.
In terms of service delivery, Dr. Wilson has long been intrigued by the promise of using computers in language intervention. In 1982, Dr. Wilson and Mr. Bernard Fox founded Laureate Learning Systems. As President and CEO, Dr. Wilson has gone on to lead the development and publication of a succession of ever improving programs that provide intervention in the areas of vocabulary, cognitive concepts, syntax, auditory processing, and reading.
In the early 1990s, Laureate was chosen to enter into an agreement with NASA to adapt their training software methodology for use in addressing the language problems of children with disabilities. This led to Laureate’s development of systems that optimize language intervention by selecting appropriate material, adjusting instructional support, and providing detailed reports to document progress.
Over the years, Dr. Wilson has had a special penchant for analyzing linguistic theory and research and determining how that knowledge can be applied to the development of language assessment and treatment practices. As Principal Investigator on 15 prestigious Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grants from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), she has led teams of consultants made up of renowned scientists working in linguistics and child language to develop a series of programs that address many critical areas of need in language intervention. One of these consultants, Jill de Villiers, Sophia and Austin Smith Professor of Psychology and Philosophy at Smith College commented, “Having worked with Mary for over fifteen years, I have seen firsthand the unique combination of linguistic knowledge, clever design, and practical wisdom about children that she infuses into her groundbreaking software at every step. She stays informed about all the relevant literature, but she can cut through controversies to a clever decision about how to help children learn best.”
Dr. Wilson has had immeasurable impact on the availability and quality of language intervention services, as well as on the lives of clients who have benefited from Laureate’s language intervention software. Nancy Kisonak, a parent of a teenager with Autism, commented, “Mary’s expertise, commitment, and passion have been remarkable, and account in large part for the fact that my daughter did develop functional use of language. She has been incredibly kind and patient, collaborative and insightful. I’ve never met a person of her professional status who is so down to earth and attuned to the individual learning needs of a child.”
For more information, contact Laureate Learning Systems Inc., 110 East Spring Street, Winooski, VT 05404; Phone: 800-562-6801; Fax: 802-655-4757; Web Site: www. LaureateLearning.com