Autism is both lifelong developmental disability that affects how people perceive the world and interact with others and a field where numerous doubts persist and conflicting concepts clash. The use of new technologies to help support autistic people is growing.
Thanks to a close between several European partners, this 4-year program combines the expertise of autistic people, their families, associations, professionals and researchers in considering the use of new technologies for autistic children between the ages of 2-18.
A program coordinated by:
Co-funder of the research axis:
In partnership with:
Members of the working group:
- Robin Bastien (University of Mons)
- Philippe Garnier (INS HEA)
- Marie-Claire Haelewyck (University of Mons)
- Holly Judge (National Autistic Society)
- Jean-Claude Martin (CNRS-LIMSI, University Paris Sud)
- Tracey Sellers (National Autistic Society)
- Aline Tessari Veyre (Ecole d’Etudes Sociales et Pédagogique, HES-SO)
- Conny Therwer (Foundation Autism Luxembourg)
- Evelyne Thommen (Ecole d’Etudes Sociales et Pédagogique, HES-SO)
The program's three themes are:
- Complement the applications and devices issued from new technologies in order to respond to the needs of 24 institutions, service providers and schools that work with autistic children and their families on a daily basis. Support the exchanges between these 24 institutions, services providers and schools.
- Raise awareness and provide training for families and professionals to ensure that they are able to provide the best possible support for autistic children. Online guides and training are accessible in free access to all interested families and professionals.
- Support applied research projects whose objectives target the needs and expectations of autistic children and their families and that result in tangible outcomes and operational tools. The approach adopted is participatory and involves childre, their parents and professionals alongside researchers.
THEME 1: THE USE OF NEW TECHNOLOGIES BY AUTISTIC CHILDREN
Investigation on the use of new technologies among 24 service providers/institutions/schools across 6 European countries
Questionnaires made it possible to collect feedback from parents, professionals and autistic children and adolescents to better understand their uses of new technologies. Data analysis resulted in a general summary from 6 country-specify reports.
The "Tips" booklet
This highly pedagogical, accessible and pragmatic tool was developed on the basis of the investigation's questionaire responses. It presents "tips" from parents and professionals to address difficulties encountered by autistic children when using new technologies.
The literature review and its summary booklet
The literature review aims to assess current applied research on the use of digital tools in helpin autistic persons with non-verbal communication and social interaction.
It is available in 2 formats: the complete format which details all work carried out, and a shorter format that summarises the key elements of the review.
THEME 2: CONFERENCES AND TRAINING TOOLS
The various tools presented below aim to inform, raise awareness and train parents and professionals concerned by autism on a range of subjects that have been identified as top priority.
Autism and Technology Conference
This conference, organised by working group member NAS (National Autism Society), aims to put together researchers and stakeholders in the field to share knowledge and practice.
Online platform for self-training (PAL)
This platform, realized by INSHEA (France) and Nouvelle Ecole Farny (Swiss), aims to share pedagogical ressources online, based on educational practices and knowledge from research. It will be destined to professionals, especially teachers in mainstream schools, in order to reinforce the inclusion of autistic children.
The content of this platform will be available in English and in French.
Web documentary: Autism - the early signs
The web documentary Autism - the early signs aims to provide parents, healthcare professionals, education and nursery professionals wit the tools to identify the early signs of autism in a child from 12 monts.
Autism - the early sign is a web documentary created by Benjamin Laurent and Claire Martin, produced by FIRAH in collaboration with Autisme France and the Rhône-Alpes Autism Resources Centre.
Training and Exchange Day (Switzerland and Luxembourg)
The research team of high school of social work and health (EESPlHES-SO), the Scool of tSocial and Pedagogical Studies (HES-SO - Lausanne), and the Fondation Autisme Luxembourg organised and information and exchange day.
This day included 6 presentations by various professionals and researchers. The objective was to illustrate the way in which digital tools are incorporated in their daily practices. This conference was attended by 150 people.
The researchers and students of the high school of social work and health (EESPlHES-SO) and the School of Social and Pedagogical Studies (HES-SO - Lausanne) created four audio-visual resources. The objective of these resources is to document the best pratices implemented in Switzerland and to make them available to a wide audience.
These resources address a number of themes: two present digital tools that make it possible for children to communicate and develop an oral language: assistive technology and Proloquo2Go application. One resource documents the way in which applications can be used to help children learn about feelings. The last resource illustrates the use of the çATED application by an autistic adult to better organise everyday life. This educational software was created in collaboration with a training and video production company that employs autistic people.
In addition to thises videos, research team members and education professionals co-wrote articles published social word journals.
Methodological guide on the use of new technologies in education
Over a period of one year, researchers (from the University of Mons) worked with teachers of four Belgian education classes with autistic children, and were able to test the relevance of digital tablets in teachers' pedagogical practices.
THEME 3: APPLIED RESEARCH
çaTED pour tes dents
The University of Nantes, the ADAPEI 44, Agir et Vivre l'Autisme, La Chrysalide and the ULIS School of the Ecole de la Tilleulière.
This appplied research was developed to support autistic children and their carers (professionals and parents) with brushing teeth and preparing a visit to the dentist. The oral health of autistic children remains a specific research area and a major challenge for families and professionals.
This applied research project resulted in a supportive software application using pictograms as well as tutorials to facilitate the use of "çATED pour tes dents".
Access to the page of this research.
Genious Healthcare and the Child and Adolescent Psychiatry department at the CHU Pitié-Salpêtrière Hospital.
Autism diagnoses are increasing, presenting different characteristics for each individual. Early diagnosis is crucial in order to implement an intensive, multidimensional and therefore more efficient therapeutic treatment. Following the MICHELANGELO consortium (FP7 European research project) involving the universities of Pisa, Southampton, Paris 6 and Professor's Cohen's team, specialised in addressing complex development difficulties in children (CHU Pitié Salpêtrière Hospital-AP-HP Hospital Trust), researchers worked with Genious Healthcare to create e-GOLIAH. The aime of the e-GOLIAH project is to create the improvements necessary to the "GOLIAH" game in order to increase acceptability and feasibility, in a process that involves all players. The research led to a number of deliverables: several games and two instruction tutorials: one for parents and one for professionals.
Developing and implementing a framework for evidence based practice for technology relevant for autism
Pierre and Marie Curie Universtity of Bath and English, French, Scottish, Spanish and American field stakeholders.
There has been an exponential proliferation in the availability of digital technology to help the autistic community. However this community and autism professionals have not been able to determine the proven benefits of this technology or whether, and to what extent, they mayeven be harmful. Autistic children, their families and professionals have a hard time choosing the most appropriate technology for their needs and expectations.
Evidence based practice - EBP - is at the heart of medical disciplines and was extended to psycho-behavioural interventions for autism in order to facilitate relevant choices in the use of new technologies.
This research developed a tool that makes it possible to establish a protocol to assess applications and identify their purpose and limitations. It was created using a participative approach that paid close attention to the opinions of autistic persons and their entourage (families and professionals).
Coordination and social skills in autistic children
CERPPS research laboratory and field therapists
This project is based on the notion that there is a co-dependence between social skill and motor skill development among autistic children. More specifically, it looks at improving children's cooperation skills, non-verbal communicaation skills and understanding of social intentions, and to test the Nao robot's efficiency in helping with these concerns.
This research yielded a number of tangible and varied tools: an e-learning platform aimed at professionals and parents, which will describe the tool studied in the context of the research; an e-learning platform for the general public, which will emphasise research results in supporting autistic children using robots; brochures and posters that will present the intervention methods assessed in this study in clear, non-scientific language.
Training software combined with cooperative social interaction and motor skills training
The CNRS Technology Laboratory for Mechanics and Engineering Science (LIMSI) and TEDyBEAR Centre.
Deliverables from this research project help children with ASD develop both their motor and social skills in order to encourage children's participation in sports, school activities and even daily activities within the familiy.
By developing a virtual training software requiring the use of collaborative motor skills, project leaders assess the digital tool's capacity to improve both the motor and social skills of autistic people.