General Question

pallen123's avatar

Special education teachers and parents: what tools do you need?

Asked by pallen123 (1507 points ) May 1st, 2010

I have a team of idle developers that has created educational software for kids with autism and special needs in the past. We’d like to tackle a pressing need in the classroom or at home for students with special needs and we’re looking for ideas. If you teach students with special needs, or are a parent of a student with special needs, what kind of affordable software would you like to see developed?

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6 Answers

Evian's avatar

I propose a role play game with xbox style graphics i.e. realistic, that simulates a high school. A bit like Sims, but with purpose..The idea is to practice social interactions and give kids a place to try out different aproaches. You could have a senior buddy giving suggestions. As in real life each situation would have a variety of outcomes. You could have all kinds of encouters how to ask out a girl, how to approach a group, how to handle bullies or mean girls how to try out for a team how to ask a teacher for help Show “expected” behavior and also show reactions to unexpected behavior. Could be quite funny and entertaining. Each person would be different, and you could customize your character . This would be for teens.

escapedone7's avatar

It might be interesting to see how the students react to a cartoon face that talks to them. Many autistic children have trouble making eye contact and are uncomfortable interacting with others, but love computer games. I wonder if they would feel less threatened talking to a cartoon face. I wonder if it could be used to teach simple interactions, such as saying “Hello” back, or answering typical phrases such as “How are you?”. I even wonder if the student might be rewarded for staring at the face or eyes of the character, and if that would translate to easier interpersonal interactions in real life. I am not sure. I would need to test something similar on students to know how they respond first.

Of the many areas that need built upon are communication skills, interpersonal effectiveness, emotional regulation, distress tolerance, and being “mindful” of the environment, people and surroundings.
These all come from “dialectical behavior therapy.” However most of this therapy is geared toward adults and complicated. Some exercises involve learning long complex acronyms. I wonder if these same skills could be taught in a much slower more simplified manner.

I would like to see perhaps different scenes where students could identify things in a picture, perhaps through a touch screen. If they could follow directions such as “touch the stop sign”. “Which door is the men’s room?” Using the same touch screen game with differing backgrounds, a student could also be taught to read sight words. If the word “door” is printed at the bottom of the screen, and the scene is a room, perhaps the student could take his or her finger and touch the ‘door’. This would be a good way to expand both vocabulary, sign recognition, and sight words using touch screen technology. If it could be used in a unit held in the lap, it would be even cooler.

I would like to see a much better augmented communication device created using the Ipad that a student could carry.

By the way, I don’t know if you are aware of this but there is a LOT of grant money available in this area that you could benefit from.

http://www.autismspeaks.org/science/research/initiatives/ita_initiative.php

http://www.grants.gov/search/search.do?mode=VIEW&oppId=51890

I could help you locate grant programs that would fund research and development perhaps.

escapedone7's avatar

Forget everything I wrote. Please read this link, it is much better.

http://www.specialed.us/autism/assist/asst10.htm

Oh I keep finding more grants for this. Sending another link.
https://sfari.org/grants

pallen123's avatar

@escapedone7 thank you so much! I’ll examine the grants links. that may be a worthwhile direction to go. we really want to do something that will have a positive and large impact.

mtirado's avatar

Currently there is no great data system for teachers to use. I teach at a school for students with autism and we need to track a huge amount of data academic and otherwise. To my knowledge there is no data system that suits our needs and that is durable enough to be in a classroom.

Other programs that would be great to see would focus on safety skills in a social environment. A huge problem for our parents is using the restroom when they have a child of the opposite sex, they want to allow their children to use the restroom independently but they are afraid that someone will take advantage of them. Currently we use role playing with our students to help them with this but its an area that does not get as much attention as academic programming.

Willowisp's avatar

While this sounds like a great idea, relying on software alone will never work unless it is reinforced with a real-world reward. The software needs to be used with an adult nearby dedicated to seeing the user’s reaction and immediately rewarding positive behaviors. You can’t sit a kid down in front of a computer and anticipate all the distractions which might occur, from losing power to seeing their reflection to having a spider crawl across the monitor. Too many variables exist beyond the parameters of any computer program. There is simply no substitute for human interaction. Sorry.

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