Thing which seemed very Thingish inside you is quite different when it gets out into the open and has other people looking at it

Monday, September 5, 2016

iPad Apps helps autistic children to spread their wings

Today there is app for everything, for maths, science, history, music and many more. Can these apps be useful for children with special needs? Kids with special needs cannot use the traditional approaches in learning, specially kids with autism need extra help than the rest of these children. They find it bit hard to focus on the things you teach, and process the information that is targeted. For kids like this Apps can be a life saver.

There  is an app for every skill you want to impart. For example there are apps targeted:

      • Improve Attention Span
      • Communication
      • Eye Contact
      • Social Skills
      • Motor co-ordination
      • Language and literacy
      • Time Management
      • Emotional Skills and Self Care

There are many apps in the appstore that facilitate Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC ) which can be highly use for autistic kids who are non verbal or speech partially impaired. These apps use text to speech technology, where kids can type words, or drag and drop images to communication with others on their needs.

Here are some of the reasons why iPad apps are so attractive for the kid's with autism and why they simply love it.
  • Visual Learning - Children with autism tend to learn more visually or by touch. In most cases they struggle with instructions given in the traditional school setting. Therefore, ipad provides an interactive educational environment to help them learn.
  • Structured and Consistent - Autistic children prefer devices compared to humans mostly because they are structured and constant. The voice is constant phase is constant, and they like things to be orderly and the ipad waits, which is something most human educators lack.
  • Promote independent learning and gives immediate feedback - Some apps which were build for ASD gives sensory re-enforcement to the child and when giving negative feedback, it chose to give it smoothly without any loud noises to distract the child.
  • Diverse Therapeutic Resource - Technology evolves and expand rapidly, so every day you see new apps with lot of creativity. Kids will not get bored, and the apps they use will get updated time to time
  • Cost Effective - Compared to other therapeutic resources ipad is inexpensive. For example Assistive Technology Devices such as Saltillo, Dynavox, Tobil cost much more than the iPad.
  • Socially Desirable and Portable- Most of therapeutic devices can lead to bullying in school, for kids with special needs. But if you give a child with an iPad, this makes the child popular at school (because every other kid likes to use iPad).
  • Apps can be easily customised - Most apps which were developed targetting autism can be customised, you can add your unique videos, images and voice to these apps. Specially the language and communication apps, so the child can learn from the things they see in their day to day life.

Here are some of the common iPad apps which target Communication, Social, Emotional and Linguistic Skills.
    • Communication - Tap to talk, iComm, Look2Learn, voice4u, My Talk Tools, iCommunicate, Proloqu2go, Inner Voice.
    • Social Skills - Model Me Going Places, Ubersense, TherAd, iMove (these apps will mostly do video self modelling social stories and give step by step  guidance for social stories such as brushing their teeth, going for a hair cut etc).
    • Linguistic Skills - First Phrases, iLanguage/ Language Builder, Rainbow Sentences, Interactive Alphabet, Touch and Write.
    • Emotional Skills - Smarty Pants.
Special Note for Educators, Teachers and Parents

Even though, there is a vast amount of apps available today, iPad is not a baby sitter, you should always be present when educating your child. The educational apps are their to help your child develop some cognitive processors or enhance their skills at reading, writing, spatial reasoning or just a way of communication. However, in order your child to grow, there should be an educator present when child is learning.. It can be a great tool and a resource for educational development but all things should come in moderation and also under supervision. It's actually quality of teaching and support that gives a positive out come, not just the device.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Autistim ..the good, the bad and the ugly

Autism or Autism Spectrum Disorder is a brain based disorder which makes the brain function in a different way compared to the rest of the wold.

 Autism affect three major area's of a person;

  1. Social Interaction - Autistic people do not like to socialise, and they tend to be in their own world, they find it very hard to keep eye contact, and rarely shows empathy or compassion towards other human beings.

  2. Communication - Most kids on the spectrum has delayed speech or non verbal (40% of autistic kids are non verbal), this can be an early sign for you to identify who has autism. Kids with autism has trouble with speech and communication and they find it hard to express what they need also they find it hard to understand what you are talking to them. This can be because they find it hard to focus on you as they are mostly distracted by their surroundings.

  3. Behaviours and Interest - Behaviours and interest of autistic people can differ from person to person. Most children or grownups with Autism have repetitive movements with objects, repeated body movements such as rocking and hand flapping.

These are few of the characteristics of autism
  • Difficulty with verbal communication, including problems using and understanding language
  • Inability to participate in a conversation, even when the child has the ability to speak
  • Difficulty with non-verbal communication, such as gestures and facial expressions
  • Difficulty with social interaction, including relating to people and to his or her surroundings
  • Difficulty making friends and preferring to play alone
  • Unusual ways of playing with toys and other objects, such as only lining them up a certain way
  • Difficulty adjusting to changes in routine or familiar surroundings, or an unreasonable insistence on following routines in detail
  • Repetitive body movements, or patterns of behavior, such as hand flapping, spinning, and head banging
  • Preoccupation with unusual objects or parts of objects
However, autism is a spectrum disorder, therefore, children/people with autism behave very uniquely and challenges they go via differs from person to person. furthermore, the severity of the autism may change from time to time.

Autism can be a problem if it's not identified at child's early ages, autism can be identified within 18 months from child birth or even earlier. Infants with autism have no big smiles or other warm, joyful expressions by six months or later and no no back-and forth gestures such as pointing,showing reaching or waving by 12 months. Some kids with autism has no speech, babbling or social skills at any age. These are very few early signs of autism, if you see these red flags, its better not delay in asking your pediatrician or family doctor for an evaluation.

It's always good to identify autism at very early age so you can get the necessary help, with communication, language development, emotional skills and education.  Autism kid's will have a hard time dealing with social interaction and traditional approaches of learning, however, they can be very smart, knowledgable and gifted children. If they were given the right set of tools for their learning, and if educators can help them  understand how they can learn, they can do wonders.

Autistic Children are gifted and special, they have a really good focus on things and they see what most people miss. Due to this they have incredible skills in areas of mathematics arts music and many more. They see the world in a different manner and can help improve the world greatly.  Here are few of the famous autistic people.

Albert Einstein - Very intelligent physician   with many inventions
Amadeus Mozart - Talented musician
Sir Isaac Newton - Scientist with many inventions
Charles Darwin - Naturalist and geologist
Thomas Jefferson - President of United States
Michelangelo - Artist

As mention above, autistic people have un imaginable talents, and they make our world a better place.

The ugly part of autism is not the autistic people, its the society and how they look at autistic people. Due to lack of social skills, there are many instances autistic children get bullied and misunderstood. And most of them cannot understand sarcasm or phrasal words,  and they only understand the literal meanings of words. Their behaviour, and how they perceive things are different compared to majority of people,  due to that society tend to make autistic people feel less important or weird. According to Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, 1 in 68 people have autism. This means there is a large population of autistic people in the world today, if we can be more patient and understanding when dealing with them, we can make a better world for them as well as us.