Monday, March 11, 2013

Autism Communication Disorders

There are a variety of videos shown below that support the use of technology (specifically iPads) to increase the communication of individuals with disabilities.  Some of the videos are excellent resources on the applications out there to access.  

A: IPad Apps for Autistic and Nonverbal Children

This video is an excellent resource for anybody working in special education, education and even parents.  Lauren is a pediatric occupational therapist who works primarily with preschool age children and some of the applications she demonstrates are for that population of students but depending on the abilities and skills of students all these programs can be used for all ages.  One of the great things about the iPad is the immediate response that provides visual and auditory feedback to users.  This is great for students because they have the immediate response, and when kids have short attention spans this keeps them engaged for longer periods of time.  Lauren states that kids who do not engage with other toys or tools when introduced to the iPad they are immediately brought in and engaged and keeping their attention. 

 An example that Lauren uses was a student that is in middle school who uses a communication device that sits on her desk provides attention that she does not want or need, once she got the iPad she was the cool kid in school because everyone wanted and iPad so kids came to interact with her socially.  One of the areas that teachers and professionals need to be aware of is you do not just want to hand the iPad to the child, because you do not want to replace that social interaction, teachers need to talk about what is happening on the screen as well.  

The iPad may not work for everybody and is not recommended for everybody, you need to look at what skills you are trying to work on. Some of the uses are for reading, writing, math, communication, accessing motor skills, a motivator, and a reward.  Teachers should also be aware not to just hand the iPad to a student, because this piece of technology is fragile and expensive and we want to make sure that it is used with care.  The iPad should not be looked at replacing a way of doing something but adding another way for students to complete a task or access information.  One of the downsides to the iPad is you are unable to print from it unless you have a special printer, but you can email things to yourself and others to print elsewhere.  
Some application demonstrated in the video are listed below:

* Some books can be recorded in your own voice*
Toy Story: words are highlighted while being read out loud, to turn the page it requires a single swipe, each page is animated and can become coloring books
Green Eggs and Ham

Shapes:  reinforces shape concepts, if you do it wrong the app gives you feedback and self-correction.
Monkey Preschool Lunchbox: works on preschool concepts( biggest, smallest, numbers, letters, colors), the activities change quickly to keep students engaged.
Following Directions: similar to Simon Says
Memory Games
Angry Birds: use for older kids, works on angles, algebra, physics
 Puzzles: drag pieces into place, it will not let you know pieces incorrectly so you know you will have to move it.
Monster Maker with Elmo: teaches body parts, engaging with singing and dancing.
Connect the Dots: helps with number order, and practicing finger swiping, it will look like what is supposed to when finished so there is a feeling of success, if you do it wrong the iPad will complete it for you correctly.  

ASL Program: has a list of words, then a video of the sign for the word, helps when learning to sign. 
ProloqueToGo: Has hundreds of ways t communicate, very involved, in depth communication system, has optional voices.
SoNoFlex: light version is no programmable.  Able to set themes such as art class, the cafeteria/lunch, About Me, playground etc.
Yes/No: gives a way to say y/n throughout the day, simple and can be programmed, Stop/Go, Milk/Juice.  Pictures can also be placed with the words.  

*Works with students who are not interested in using tools and can later transfer the skills into writing with paper*
Little Sky Writers: Airplane traces around the letter, it forces you to make the letter it will not let you do it wrong, kids can be motivated by writing letters on the iPad. 
Doodle Buddy:  draw or write,free form.  

I have had many opportunities to work with students and individuals when using iPads as communication devices. I have been able to see the difference it makes and how they go from being dependent on an individual to make their choices for them or answer for them and when they have the opportunity to use the iPad even to answer yes or no, happy or sad it makes them independent.  I hope in my future classroom I am able to include the iPad for instructional purposes for all students and make use of the applications out there is help increase opportunities for students with disabilities.  One of the problems that we face is the cost of the iPad, not every family has the money to purchase one, and yes there are some grants and funding out there but not all individuals receive that.  I think the iPad works great wonders at increasing the life opportunities independence of individuals with disabilities, and I hope that I have the opportunity to work with this resources in my future classroom.  

B: Autistic Girl Expresses Profound Intelligence

While watching this video, it made be reassure myself about why I love working in special education.  As special education teachers we work very hard to help individuals with disabilities make even the smallest amount of progress in anything.  My hopes for my students are to help them in every way possible to be independent, a self-advocate and a great individual.  In some cases helping a student become independent is a struggle and in the case of Carly this is evident.  Having the caring family that Carly does I think was a big help that they never gave up on her no matter what.   I can see how hard it can be for individuals for years have been giving her what she wants, when she wants and pushing Carly to type and ask for things definitely helped increase her independence.  All students should have the opportunity and chance to be independent and have their own voice, and Carly is living example of how a piece of technology can make a huge difference in the life of many individuals.  If all nonverbal students were open to this opportunity would we have more people believing in these applications and understanding that even though someone can not speak they still have a voice that deserve to be heard.  

Below readers will find a collection of videos from various resources depicting viewpoints from parents, children and teachers.  

Video 1: Parent Perspective

This video is from the perspective of Donna (parent) concerning her daughter Autumn (child with autism).  I chose this video because it shows the care and concern that Donna has for her child including her determination to help her daughter.  Donna demonstrates her daughter using the iPad application to share her wants and feelings.  In this video Autumn heres a statement that she chose on the iPad and repeats one of the words from the statement.  This shows that Autumn is able to speak and using the iPad gives her a voice to talk to her mom and others.  This video does not provide information on the iPad apps but it shows how useful and engaging they are to individuals with autism.  Imagine how far Autumn will come if able to use the iPad all day everyday?

Video 2: Teacher Perspective
Apps for Autism

This video is from the perspective of many teachers working with students with autism.  Children have shown great interest in the iPad by its interface and easy use by students.  A group of teachers were involved in a study to see the impact of the iPad with their students.  The students are actively engaged with the iPad versus other toys or teaching tools.  This study showed the students interest in socializing and increase in their attention spans.  The teachers demonstrate the use of the iPads with some of their students. Some of these teachers were able to discover so much more about these students then they could have realized including their interests.  Some of the applications on the iPad were showing counting up by showing each number, this simple app kept a student actively engaged.  Another app was choosing the picture, this app can show us how much our students really know.  For example one student was able to pick out a saxophone, nobody may have ever knew that the student was aware of the instruments and was vey interested in them if before he was unable to fully communicate.  Using these simple applications shows teachers and parents that their children know so much more that we think they do.

Video 3: Child Perspective
autism, iPad & Ean
This video is from the perspective if Ean, a child with autism.  In this video Ean is shown a picture of an object, he the uses ASL to sign the object, then types what the object is in the iPad, after Ean types the word in the iPad it allows him to say the item back to him.  This allows Ean multiple means of representation, by showing a picture using ASL, typing it then hearing it spoken from the computer.  This shows me another example of an app that is useful to help students communicate.  It is important that students are able to type the words or phrases but also that the iPad is able to speak them back, it gives the child a voice and it allows them to be heard by someone instead of having to just have a person read their typing.

Video 4:
App gives autistic children a voice
I found this video helps to show how important it is to help children with autism have a voice, and the iPad gives children the opportunity.  I have learned about some of the apps that help students including Proloque contains thousands of images and symbols on the app.  When a child touches the image it speaks it out loud for them.  Kids are using the iPad to speak for the first time, and the apps use child voices which can help them normalize with other students.  The apps on the iPad can be used by many other individuals including those with cerebral palsy and down syndrome and even stroke victims.  This specific app is $190 to purchase, and allows multiple users which makes this app great for teachers to use in the classroom.  

Video 5: 
Jake 7-yr-old autistic boy uses iPad app iWriteWords
This video shows Jake, a 7 yr old boy with autism demonstrating writing using an iPad app.  This app allows the student to type letter by letter and the app repeats the letter out loud.  Once the student constructs a word the app repeats each letter and speaks the word.  The word is then followed up by a picture of the object.  This app is interesting because there are multiple things being accomplished such as working on fine motor skills to trace the letters with your fingers, letter recognition and letter writing.  It also helps it spelling words correctly and attaching meaning to them to provide a picture.  This app can be useful in many ways at home and school and can help students practice word and letter skills.  

Video 1: Parent Perspective
Video 2: Teacher Perspective
Video 3: Ean
Video 4
Video 5: Jake

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