Technology for the Education of children with autism
Normal classroom settings are already welcoming the use of technology from computers, scanners and anything that can be used to transfer and speed up the mode of communication between the learner and the student.
One school who started this trend would be the Topcliffe Primary School in Birmingham.
The school handles around 30 children who have different levels of autism. Together with four other schools in the UK, the ECHOES projects, the ESRC or Economic and Social Research as well as the EPSRC or the Engineering Physical research science council. The school had dedicated research and projects in order to make use of programs like TEL- Technology Enhanced Learning programme that will allow autistic children to play and engage with virtual characters as well as interactive technologies.
The learners are asked to interact with a large multi-touch screen that was created in the Technology Enhanced Learning Institute of Education in London.
The children are able to manipulate the objects. They are also given the chance to explore the environment and they are also given the option of interacting with semi-autonomous agent named Andy.
Andy was created as a social partner to children with Autism; the interface would engage children in various activities.
From the feedback of the teachers, this program has had a positive impact in the lives of the children especially with their social and communication skills. Teachers are happy with the fact that it helps children get engaged even without human intervention.
This technology has the ability to bring out other skills in children. Most autistic children are silent and locked in but with the help of Andy the machine they are able to produce more results.
The children are delighted to play with the images on the screen. This is very different when compared with a traditional school setting. Using the normal curriculum this results would have never been possible.
This is due to the fact that children with autism find it easier to relate and learn using computers and technology. There is reduced fear and anxiety and these machines can easily motivate them to learn how to communicate.
The machine has also made the life of the teachers and staff easier, including parents and practitioners because they are given the chance to analyze the strength and difficulties of the children while watching.
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