About Us

Team Photo

Stages Learning

      Learning happens in stages. 

      Learn to crawl before you walk, learn to walk before you run.

Language development also happens in stages. Children learn to match objects first ("Put apple with apple"), then to identify objects receptively ("Give me the apple"), and finally to identify objects expressively ("What is it?" "It is an apple.").

The stages of your child's development are precious and wonderful. Stages Learning Materials will partner with you to make the most of every stage.  

Our Story

Angela Nelson, a UCLA trained ABA Therapist, founded Stages Learning in 1997 when autism diagnoses first began to rise. Our top-selling autism education product, the Language Builder Picture Cards, was designed to specifically meet the learning needs of children with autism. The research-based Language Builder Series has become a staple in home and school programs around the world and Stages Learning is now the premier developer of learning tools for children with autism.

Now headquartered in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Stages works with faculty at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, providing an incubator for graduate students who are working at the intersection of new research and learning technologies. Applying innovative research and design strategies, Angela and her team, all graduates of the Harvard Graduate School of Education's "Technology, Innovation, and Education" program, have designed new online tools for language learning, including our popular Language Builder App.

Angela and Leslie with graduate students

About Our Products

Our products are created to stimulate learning at each stage of language development. They feature beautiful real-photo images to capture a child's attention and engage their minds. Research demonstrates that children with autism are highly visual and literal learners, and our tools support these learning strengths. 

Our photo-based flash card sets, games, puzzles and posters offer a broad assortment of images to teach a wide range of language skills. Our card series provide opportunities to teach identical pre-language matching, categorization and learning similarities. Our work is based on 20 years of experience in helping children learn language skills and new research on digital learning technologies and instructional design also informs our tool development.

New Tools!

Stages recently launched a new product line that combines the best of traditional print with interactive iPad Apps that help preschoolers build early literacy skills. Our research-based Link4Fun interactive books and cards support language learning while providing children with engaging opportunities to improve fine motor skills and learn about the world around them.

Our recent acquisition of the popular Brain Parade “See Touch Learn” App provides us with another language learning tool to help parents, teachers, and therapists provide children with over 4,000 vivid photo-based interactive learning tools for successful language learning.

Our Team

Angela Nelson

Angela Nelson, Ed.M. J.D.
CEO & President

Angela founded Stages Learning Materials in 1997 as a vehicle to publish and distribute her line of photo-based teaching tools for autism and special needs. Angela has a BA in Psychology, and a JD, both from UCLA; and an M.Ed. from Harvard Graduate School of Education from the Technology, Innovation and Education Program. 

At UCLA Angela studied behavioral psychology under Dr. Ivar Lovaas, head of the premier program in the treatment and education of children with autism. Following graduation, she worked as a senior therapist for the Center for Autism and Related Disorders, supervising educational programs, performing assessments, and conducting workshops for parents and professionals across the country and in Europe. During her graduate work at UCLA, Angela completed multiple cross-departmental courses through the MBA program at UCLA’s Anderson School of Business Management. 

Angela is currently the incoming Chair of the Education Market Association, serves as a Teaching Fellow at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, and speaks at national conferences and education institutes on autism education and early literacy. 


Cindy Bowers

Cindy is an attorney who worked for Morrison & Foerster before becoming the General Counsel and Vice President of Business and Legal Affairs for the restaurant chain Saddle Ranch Chop House.  She has an undergraduate degree in political science from UCSD and a J.D. from UCLA.  She joined Stages in 2018 as the C.O.O.




Chris Spence placeholder

Chris Spence, Ed.M.
Software Engineer

Chris is the President and Founder of Educational Media Associates and has a professional background in rich Internet application development and education work. Chris works with Stages providing software development for innovative learning tools and apps. He is a graduate of Williams College and the Harvard Graduate School of Education Technology, Innovation and Education Program, and currently serves as a teaching fellow at Harvard. 



Leslie Stebbins

Leslie Stebbins, Ed.M.
Director for Research/Project Manager

Leslie is a writer and educational consultant at LeslieStebbins.com and also serves as the Director for Research at Consulting Services for Education. At Stages she works as a project manager, content strategist, and researcher to help inform the design and development of new learning tools. She is a graduate of University of Michigan, Simmons Graduate School of Library and Information Science, and of the Technology, Innovation, and Education Program at the Harvard Graduate School of Education (HGSE). Leslie has served as a teaching fellow and is currently a researcher at HGSE.



Laura Danforth

Laura Danforth, Ed.M. 

Laura works with Stages in all areas relating to communications, social media marketing, and newsletter development. Laura worked as a second grade teacher for several years in Chicago and is a graduate of Northwestern and from the Harvard Graduate School of Education Language and Literacy Program.


Advisory Board

John Richards, Ph.D.

John RichardsJohn Richards, Ph.D., is Founder and President of Consulting Services for Education, Inc. (CS4Ed). He is Lecturer at the Harvard Graduate School of Education teaching Entrepreneurship in the Education Marketplace. He is a senior Advisor to Whitestone Communications providing premier mergers and acquisitions services, on the Board of Girls Thinking Global, and on the Advisory Board of iCivics. John was President of the JASON Foundation, GM of Turner Learning–the educational arm of Turner Broadcasting–and Manager of the Educational Technologies Division of Bolt Beranek and Newman that launched the award winning Co–NECT school design. Over the years, John has served on boards for a variety of education groups including NECC; Cable in the Classroom; Software Information Industry Association (SIIA), Education Market section; and the Association of Educational Publishers (AEP). John's projects have won him numerous awards including two Golden Lamps and several CODIEs, as well as several EMMY nominations. He is a respected keynote speaker and is the author/editor of four books, over 90 articles, and has been responsible for the publication of over 1,000 educational products. 

David Dockterman, Ed.D.

David DocktermanDavid Dockterman operates at the intersection of research and practice. In 1982 he helped found Tom Snyder Productions, an early pioneer in educational technology, while getting his doctorate at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Over the last 30 plus years, he has continued to balance lives in the academic and publishing worlds, serving now as Chief Architect, Learning Sciences for Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and Lecturer at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. At Tom Snyder, and later at Scholastic and HMH, he designed dozens of award-winning computer programs including: Decisions, Decisions; Science Court; and The Great Ocean Rescue. Most recently, Dockterman served as a key advisor for the development of MATH180 and READ 180 Universal. He is a Fellow of the International Society for Design and Development in Education, an Editorial Board Member for the journal Science of Learning, and a Senior Fellow for the International Center for Leadership in Education.