ICare4Autism Conference Highlights the Influence of Technology

On the afternoons of Tuesday, July 1st, and Wednesday, July 2nd, a dynamic and intriguing presentation was given at the ICare4Autism International Autism Conference, which discussed the influence of technology for those with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD).Technology Opens Doors for Students of All Ages on the Spectrum, was presented by Dr. Dana R. Reinecke, Assistant Professor and Chair of the Center for Applied Behavior Analysis at the Sage Colleges, and Laura M. Stolfi, Director of the Achieve Degree at the Sage Colleges.

This interactive workshop focused on how technology can offer new solutions to some of the limitations of behaviorally-based procedures. The workshop offered some hands-on experiences which showcased how technology can be used to overcome certain struggles in school, at work, at home, or in social situations. Many individuals with ASD suffer from deficits in language, expression, and social skills, and technology has become increasingly beneficial in improving these skills. Parents and educators are beginning to see that certain programs are incredibly effective in helping the child be more organized, as well as more expressive and truly interested in learning.

Dr. Reinecke and Ms. Stolfi emphasized how technology can help students of all ages. For one, learning becomes more engaging and the experience is more consistent with the use of certain programs. Furthermore, educators have the ability to individualize each lesson. Technology incorporates an alternative method of communication, as well as video modeling, and visuals which help those on the spectrum learn more effectively. Dr. Reinecke and Ms. Stolfi also elaborated on the function of learning management systems, as they serve as a place to organize content. These systems are consistent and organized, making it easier to understand the material. For example, Google Drive allows individuals to work together and share content, embracing the importance of collaboration and serving as a safe method for working as a group.

Apps have also become extremely beneficial in building skills for those on the spectrum. Audiobooks and recordings help provide instructions and a unique way to learn material, while communication apps, such as Proloquo and Tap2Talk, provide visual ways to help the individual communicate. Lastly, Dr. Reinecke and Ms. Stolfi stressed the influence of social media, and how it can be very beneficial for teens on the spectrum to participate in certain platforms. After learning the importance of online safety and appropriateness, teens could utilize these platforms to stay current on important topics, as well as join groups with similar experiences and interests. These social media sites serve as an outlet for each individual to connect to others and express their thoughts and interests.

Conference attendees were captivated by this workshop, as it focused on something very current and evolving, as well as how these advances in technology are best used to help those on the spectrum. ICare4Autism thanks Dr. Reinecke and Ms. Stolfi for their dedication to the Autism community, and we look forward to seeing how technology continues to improve the lives of those on the spectrum!

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