Many special educators and counselors have begun to realize that special needs children, like those with autism spectrum disorder, can respond particularly well to technological programs. This is because these programs behave in a predictable and consistent way. Unlike the earlier technologies for autistic children, these programs run on tabs and smart phones, which make them portable.
Hopes are running high among autistic children and their parents as developers come out with apps like “What's the Expression” and “All Sorts!” that have assisted autistic children with attention deficiency disorder to get organized. Other apps can track the personalized education plan of each student, or provide a list of words to prompt those struggling with their writing skills.
At a special school in Brooklyn, about 15 autistic children from the third grade are located in a classroom. A large interactive whiteboard in front of them displays a turtle shell, honeycomb, and a snake skin. All these examples of repetitive patterns-called tessellation-and sourced from a science center in Jersey City. An affectionate female voice from the screen asks the kids to draw a triangle, each side six inches long. It's a bit complex for most of them. But the voice urges them to try. “I'm starving,” she says, “Please finish it in two more minutes so that I can grab my lunch.”
The lecture is coming live to the children from the science center. Meanwhile, huddled in an adjacent room, counselors and special educators takes notes about how the lesson is progressing.
Elsewhere, in an Atlanta neighborhood, the “All Sorts!” app is absorbing a fourth grade automatic girl's attention in an elementary school. This is a special instructor Serena Mill's classroom. All students are bent over their tabs running the “All Sorts!” app, doing different tasks according to their individual abilities. Serena, meanwhile, gives cues to various expressions to six of her students who tap on their iPad screens and show the relevant reaction to a particular situation.
Serena says that the apps are a key to engage her students in mathematics and reading skills. “These apps are amazing. They target all the special skills that children with autism spectrum disorder will need as they grow up,” she says and stresses that her students are motivated to use these apps. They enjoy working on their tabs, iPads, and smart phones. Their work on these gadgets gives them confidence and reinforcement to push their limits of learning.
Serena and other teachers in her school for autistic children have observed that students are more attracted to a lesson where technology is involved. Many children's apps have animated characters, music, attractive colors, prompt responses, and encouraging voices. Autistic students, whose repetitive behaviors often match the action of these apps, are usually associated to them.
Many educators and therapists working with autistic children say that now the interest in technology greater than those on the autism spectrum. Serena's four-year old son Brad too has autism spectrum disorder and has laately found interest in the “All Sorts!” app.