Tech’s Role in Teaching Autistic Students Evolves
Advancements in assistive technologies, as well as an increased focus on addressing the needs of students with autism, have spurred an emerging roster of new digital products designed to facilitate better communication between parents and teachers of students with autism and provide more affordable, higher-quality education to those students.
“The emergence of autism as a critical area has really exploded over the last five years,” says Tracy Gray, the director of the Washington-based National Center for Technology Innovation, due in part to the growing number of students diagnosed with the condition. “Over the same period of time, there has been an emergence of assistive-technology tools across the board ... Developers and innovators really have taken hold of what the technology offers and built tools that are responsive to the needs of kids.”
Autism, a developmental disorder that can impair communication and social-interaction skills, affects approximately 1 in 150 children in the United States, according to the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Many of those children have significant struggles in school both academically and socially, forcing schools to find better ways to help them cope.
TeachTown provides feedback on which activities and research-based teaching strategies teachers should use with autistic children based on the data collected for each child. The software also helps parents and teachers communicate more effectively about the progress of students.
“The idea is that if you can show progress to the parents, and they can see how the child is doing, it creates a more effective communication system and reduces anxiety,” says Whalen.
The data collection and synchronization piece of the software also reduces the amount of time special education teachers have to spend on paperwork, says Whalen.
Copyright 2009 by Editorial Projects in Education. All rights reserved.
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