Fundamental Skills actually place the student and parent (or other adult) in the stories, with speaking and animation!
As far as I know, this feature is unique to Speech Kingdom. The student and the parent make a cartoon version of themselves (avatars). This feature helps students identify with the program on a very personal level. Every student I have ever worked with begins to identify their avatar as themself.
The bond that the student makes with his or her avatar has been shown to increase attention, lower stress levels, and increase retention.
The student's avatar appears in every scene — in real time, and is referred to by first name. Be sure to use the name the student most often uses.
Remember that this may not be the their formal name. If the student's name is William but everyone calls him Billy, then his avatar's first name should be Billy. This helps the student to better identify with their avatar.
A natural phenomenon takes place when the student sees themselves in the story. They identify themselves, and attention to what is happening in the story is heightened. The ability to create an avatar of themselves and a parent (or other adult) creates a concrete bond between the student and the stories immensely increases each story's effectiveness.
The best example I have of this phenomenon is with Speech Kingdom and my own son, who has high functioning autism.
He was aware that I was piloting Speech Kingdom. After creating his and my avatars, I asked him if he would take a look at the program. I prompted him to look at a few things I knew he struggled with. He very quietly looked at several Fundamental Skills.
I asked him, “So what do you think?” His response was, “Does this guy have a camera in my bedroom?” I reassured him that no one was spying on him!
I call this response, The power of the avatar!