Achieving independence may now be more accessible for people on the autism spectrum. New technologies are entering the marketplace which can support self-monitoring and reduce need for assistance. These days assistive technology can be standard equipment that is readily available, socially accepted and very portable. These technologies can be used in education, the workplace and for leisure; several options are available for supporting oral and written communication skills.
Download Aspect Practice Conversations 2 newsletter and podcast which focuses on technology.
Here are just some examples of how we are using technology in the classroom and at home.
The LAMP program is described as being particularly beneficial for children with autism, because of its heavy emphasis on motor planning. The use of consistent motor patterns is advantageous because it:
decreases the need to learn the meaning of a symbol;
results in more automatic and therefore faster communication over time (e.g. touch typing); and
reduces the cognitive demands associated with continually analysing and choosing from different symbol sets.
iPad or Android Tablets are just one example of a technology tool that can be used for independent living. Applications (apps) on all forms of computer technology that are available can be useful in supporting independence through the development of schedules and prompting in completing tasks, and completing daily activities such as paying bills, shopping and socialising through social media.
As new classroom technology becomes available, it is a challenge for quality pedagogy to keep up with the rate at which we implement these new resources. In addition to Aspect’s iPad research projects where we explore evidence-based outcomes associated with facilitating positive outcomes for children with autism, we also develop best practice programs to support quality classroom application of the Apple iPad.
Aspect Hunter School Coordinator, Craig Smith, has produced a document to share five classroom projects that use the iPad as a central tool for achieving some great student results, as have been implemented in Aspect classrooms. Click here for these comprehensive lesson plans.
Aspect Hunter School is the model school for iPads.
The Secret Agent Society (SAS) is a social skills program for 8 to 12-year old children with social and emotional challenges such as high-functioning autism. This evidence-based program provides professionals with a ready-to-use curriculum and set of resources to help children improve their social and emotional skills. It comprises a range of educational activities, including a multi-level computer game, board game, walkie-talkie game, card games, and a workbook. Children are taught how to identify simple and complex emotions in themselves and others, using face, body, voice and environmental clues. From this foundation, children are supported to develop their skills in emotion regulation, problem solving, talking and playing with others, coping with making mistakes, trying new things, and dealing with teasing and bullying. Aspect South East Sydney School and Aspect Central Coast School are the model schools for the Secret Agents Society.
For guidance on available learning apps, the Learning App Guide provides reviews of more than 700 quality apps targeted for students with autism and language disorders. Apps are evaluated based on their support for Evidenced Based Practices.
We recently launched Club Weld –an exciting new music project – in partnership with Information & Cultural Exchange (ICE).
Club Weld supports adults with autism who have an interest in making music to help them to explore their musical passions in a supportive studio environment. Using the latest technology, Club Weld is about making music accessible for people – providing a conduit for accessing the creative potential of the people we support.
We will be using Ableton Live Suite 9 software and Push in a professional sound-recording studio at ICE. Push is an instrument which uses velocity-sensitive pads and colours to create beats, sounds, sequences and melodies. It is particularly suited for some people on the spectrum as it's about making patterns and remembering sequences – a remarkable example of how technology can be used creatively.