Specialist Autism Services borrowed 10 iPads via the 100% Digital Leeds Tablet Lending Scheme to allow them to introduce a digital element to their workshop offer, support members to develop their IT skill and digital literacy, to allow members to take a more active role in the planning and budgeting of trips and activities, and to help support non-verbal individuals to communicate within a group setting and 1 to 1.
Specialist Autism Services
Specialist Autism Services run a structured program of daily social skills workshops 5 days a week to provide opportunities for individuals with Autism and/or Asperger`s to develop social skills in a non-pressured and engaging environment. Through an Autism specific learning program, members are supported by highly trained staff to learn about communication and social interaction. This helps to build confidence, increase independence, develop new skills, and make friends whilst having fun. All these skills are useful and important, supporting work towards employment and any other further future learning. They offer offer a wide variety of different workshops with topics such as creative arts, drama, multimedia, skills for life and employment.
A creative, immersive approach
Specialist Autism Services have embedded digital inclusion across their service by using the iPads on a daily basis, in all of our different workshops and in lots of different ways. Their creative, agile, and immersive approach to digital inclusion has helped engage members and staff with the technology and enhanced their already excellent service.
A few highlights of this immersive approach include:
- Using a volume-measuring app to make members more aware of their volume, with a view to better controlling the noise in workshops and making them more comfortable for members with sensitive hearing
- Using search engines to look up information relating to various projects taught in workshops including how-to’s, new recipes, creative techniques and inspiration for creative workshops
- Using different apps to support the integration of, as well as communication with, non-verbal members
- Use of sensory apps and various game apps to help members reduce stress and anxiety in workshops and over lunchtimes
- Use of video apps and stop motion features to create new work in multimedia workshops
- Use of drawing and picture-editing apps to expand on art techniques used in creative workshops
- Use of journey-tracking apps to see where and how far has been walked and to better understand the positive health-impacts of walking
- Use of journey planning tools to plan trips and usage of public transport
- Use of budgeting apps to develop members’ money-management skills
- Supporting decision making and communication by supporting one low-verbal member using a tablet for the first time to respond to questions, typing answers he is uncomfortable speaking.
Developing Digital Literacy
The organisation have also been using the iPads to directly develop members’ digital literacy. Members have used the iPads to practice logging into and out of their personal email account and talking about the safety of doing this on shared devices. They have developed their internet searching skills by being encouraged to use the tablets to find their own information and problem solve, such as finding tutorials on YouTube and finding mental health resources to help with coping over Christmas. Members are encouraged to use apps such as journey planners to help them stay independent.
The staff team have grown in confidence and in their familiarity with technology. For some, it has been the first time that they’ve used a tablet. Staff are learning about new apps, how to use them to do new things and to add value to the service by discovering how to do “old” things in new and different and better ways. Staff continue to share their knowledge of apps with each other and support each other to make the best use of the tech. Staff have also become Digital Champions.