So iPads work with Autism…?


We really need hard evidence to support importing new teaching technologies into the classroom. Trouble is the iPad tech is so new at the moment there is little evidence to guide us as to what works and in what way. Also autism is so wide and is so variable across the spectrum it’s hard to be clear as to what we mean when we say this app is great for kids with autism. Which ones? Who do we mean?

There is such a huge range of needs that span the spectrum it’s hard to know where to start. As always the answer was staring us in the face all the time. Where do we start? With the individual of course. This is where our speech and language /occupational therapy colleagues can really help. Maybe good app selection, and the lesson plan or scheme of work that follows, is probably only as good as the assessment that precedes it. Really understanding the person’s communication/skill/learning profile is vital.

With young people with autism, a certain pattern of needs are a given – those to do with communication, flexible thinking, and the world of people – but their exact nature is infinitely variable across the spectrum. So let’s start with good assessment.

The next step in making our iPad work more evidence led is target setting. If we don’t have SMART goals then we condemn our input and support to being not much more than guess work.

Data recording is a chore but we really need the numbers to monitor, adjust and recalibrate our interventions. Good news is the iPad itself is a great data tool with voice/video capture, word processing, spreadsheet tools in fact all you need to make continuous monitoring of inputs and outputs easy.

With autism intervention the evidence, in terms of scientific research, is thin on the ground. In the specific area of education and autism it is even scarcer. When we start thinking about educational use of the tablet technology we are really breaking new ground. And that makes you a pioneer! We need to build a community of practitioners using the iPad in school to collate, report, share and publish their findings. That way we can move forward with this exciting opportunity with confidence.

Take a look at this research into using iPads to foster early language in kids with autism.

Chris Barson

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