The tech-savvy teachers using coding to help children with autism
Craig Smith and Heath Wild are teachers at the Aspect Hunter School, who have developed their very own iTunes U course for children on the spectrum.
Realising that many of their students have a very keen interest in technology, including iPad apps and games, the course has been designed by the teachers to help children on the autism spectrum with everyday routines and tasks which they may usually struggle with.
The course called “Coding for Life” is designed for students of any age to use and draws similarities between learning to code and 'learning how to think logically'. Craig and Heath say this type of thinking is often a main personal development goal for many of their students on the autism spectrum.
“We have been using these types of learning activities in the Aspect Hunter School this year, and our students have shown tremendous gains regarding their problem solving, critical thinking and executive functioning skills.” said Craig.
“For us, learning to code is all about learning how to think. Coding is the language that allows you to create programs on a computer, but it is also the language of logical thinking. When you think about the steps involved in brushing your teeth, or packing your bag for school, or building a bed in Minecraft, your brain is using the language of coding. There are lots of ways in which coding relates to life.” said Heath.
By capitalising on the technological strengths and interests of their students, the teachers are able to apply real-life practical learnings in a language and framework in which they are comfortable.
Activities include creating sequences for daily routines, such as getting dressed each morning, writing your name in Binary Code, or creating maps of the school environment to help prepare students for the day.
The teachers hope that developing specialised skills like coding will connect their students to innovative job opportunities in the future.