Technology can open the doors of communication for children with autism spectrum disorder. Research has revealed that apps for autism can increase a student's focus as well. In fact high-tech assessments can often pinpoint children's abilities that are usually overlooked by the more traditional testing methods. Experts believe that technology can grab the attention of autistic children in a much better way and can motivate them more.
Apps like “Math on the Farm” or “Make Sentences” gives autistic children an instant award like some points or entry to the next stage of the game that are much better than the traditional pencil and paper system. Companies developing apps and other learning products for children with autism spectrum disorder are considering the growing interest in technology for special needs students. The adaptive nature of these apps is also a major reason behind their success.
Take the “Math on the Farm” app for instance. Each mathematics activity lesson in the app has activities attached. Whenever a student finishes an activity correctly, he / she is immediately rewarded with a badge, a strategy that educators and experts claim keeps the student engaged. Repetition is an important strategy for children with autism spectrum disorder and that's built into the “Math on the Farm” app. The app also allows children to navigate through a curriculum which is based on what they've already mastered, rather than what their educator thinks they are capable of. Several app development companies are trying to replicate the success of “Math on the Farm” and “Make Sentences” apps.
Diana Longfield, a special educator at Ohio, says that apps have to come up with innovative ways to attract more participation from autistic children. For instance, she says, a student may be asked to watch a video about dogs, and then asked to identify the animal on the app. Successful completion of the entire lesson, or at least the major part of it, can unlock a badge, in an effort to reinforce learning. Of course, the level of difficulty can be customized according to an individual's capacity.
But not all schools are ready to adapt to the new techniques. Brad Williamson, father of a six-year old autistic boy, has witnessed that first hand. Andrews, his son, studies in a school which still uses the pencil-and-paper method of educating autistic children. But Brad knows technology can usher in a major change in his son's life. His son was nonverbal even when he was four years old. But when introduced to the “Make Sentences” app, Andrews could join words to forge sentences. Within a year, he could blurt out random words.
Brad says, Andrews could not speak, let alone construct sentences. But after introducing him to the “Make Sentences” app, he can now string together words. Not that it makes much sense though, but at least there has been some improvement, says Brad. But Andrew's school has not yet opened up to such techniques of learning and that has kept his father worried. The child is using “Make Sentences” and other apps for autistic children at home though.