We really need hard evidence to support importing new teaching technologies into the classroom. The trouble is, there is little evidence to guide us as to what works and in what way. Also, autism is so wide and so variable across the spectrum that it’s hard to be clear as to what we mean when we say this app is great for learners with autism. Which ones? Who do we mean?
There is such a huge range of needs spanning the spectrum that 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. Really understanding the learner’s communication/skill/learning profile is vital.
With young people who have autism, a certain pattern of needs is recognised – 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 be not much more than guesswork.
Data recording is a chore, but we really need the numbers to monitor, adjust and recalibrate our interventions. The good news is that 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 the educational use of 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 learners with autism.