Learning from autistic children

As promised:

This week’s post is all about Craig Smith’s demonstration session – “Learning from Autistic Children in Supporting Boys to Really Learn” at the NBEC.

Craig’s presentation was very inspiring and made me want to get out there and try these strategies not just on kids with autism but on kids generally. I think that what he had to offer would be most beneficial for ALL kids.

kids with ipadsCraig presented a wonderful journey through a program used at Autism Spectrum to engage autistic kids in learning. It focused on knowing how to best support the kids in everything they will face throughout their schooling. He explained that because these kids have poor communication skills 90% of the data presented is taken in visually. They need a focused interest and for it to be successful it needs to be something they are interested in. For this reason Craig says that the iPad is the tool that can help bring the teacher to the student. This is supported by research that you can read more about here

One study in particular reports the following:

Autism Spectrum Australia (Aspect) (2013) recently undertook research to investigate the effectiveness of using iPads for developing core competencies in students with ASD. The researchers also reviewed the teachers’ perspective on the usefulness of the technology. The results identified that teachers reported that the iPad is a useful pedagogical tool which is valuable as a motivational device for learning and increasing class inclusivity. The findings showed that student educational goal achievements can improve when compared to what the teachers would expect when using traditional teaching methods. The results showed that student achievement levels improved more than teachers expected in:

  • o Behaviour goals–increased by 67% (30students)
    o Communication goals–increased by 45% (58students).For more information on this project, please see the media coverage about Autism Spectrum Australia (Aspect) (2012) Proloquo2Go app trial here.

The main message here in getting autistic kids more engaged is  VISUAL – VISUAL – VISUAL.

imovie-110310-1Craig then explained a wonderful program they run where the goal is to make a movie. The kids have to plan, design, film, make trailers and posters to advertise their movie using iPad apps including sketchbook, storyboard strip designer, iMovie, Final Cut Pro among others. This project got kids shining, one success story is that of Jackson Miller who loves music and  entered one of his songs in Triple J’s competition. He came second!!!! He likes being famous so click on his name to listen to some of his terrific music mixes.

The boys also used iBooks and iBooks Author to make an iBook teaching others what they know. This is challenge based learning where kids can work at their own pace and develop as learners in their own right.

Evernote and Penultimate are also good tools because they are less inhibiting than paper and for autistic children this is great because they can wipe the board clean and start again. TalkBoard is also an excellent tool as it turns your iPad into a communication aid and visual prompt board and you can easily use your own pictures and symbols to personalise the app.

Craig encourages us to see the iPad as a blank canvas. Remember though that we need to show our kids how to best use the apps – oh wait – maybe they could probably teach us that!

So those of us who have iPads in schools and there are many, why not try some the apps and get autistic kids buzzing and while you’re on it why not get all kids buzzing!

logoASAFor more information on autism visit their website’s facts sheet page.

 

Have a great week 🙂

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