Technology Lending a Helping Hand to Autistic Children
For children with autism spectrum disorder, mathematics problems become much easier if they involve images. Addition sums, for instance, could become clearer if both the equation and answer are accompanied by pictures that represent the mathematics taking place. Three toffees plus two toffees can be logically illustrated with five toffees. Representing every question with a visual example makes learning more accessible and concrete. And that’s exactly what the “Math on the Farm” app does.
The developer team of “Math on the Farm” app has first-hand experience of working with autistic children as therapists and special educators, and was thus inspired to do something for such kids. They have also come up with the “Just Match” app that teaches object sorting, number matching and other skills, using approaches that resonate with autistic children.
Special educators Karen Edwards and Patricia Graf have been teaching children with autism spectrum disorder for several years now. They have noticed a major disconnect among these children. Majority of the children’s families had iPad and tablets, but none had any suitable app that effectively taught the kids lessons they needed to learn. The percentage of children with autism spectrum disorder has increased in the two decades that Karen and Patricia have been in the field.
Patricia’s younger brother, in fact, was diagnosed with the disorder at the age of five and she knows how challenging it is to bring up an autistic child. Her family came from a small town in Ohio and didn’t have the resources to support the special education needs of her brother.
One in every 68 children today has autism spectrum disorder. The rate has increased more than 600% in the last two decades alone. Services and resources, however, have failed to keep pace with the growing numbers of autistic children. Lack of specialists for autistic children is creating a waiting time for both diagnosis and treatment from at least two months to one year. Even if a family having children with autism can avail the services, therapy could be highly unaffordable. Most of the recognized interventions are based on the 40-hours-per week of rigorous one-one-therapy.
For the developer team of “Math on the Farm” and “Just Match”, the numbers were simply unacceptable. They felt that access to the life-changing resources like apps for autistic children should be available and affordable. Families of autistic children should not hunt in the dark about appropriate technology. They are developing technology that incorporates the best autism strategies, increasing availability of the apps and reducing the cost.