Autistic teenagers have a difficult time organizing their thoughts, making school an overwhelming place filled with anxieties and fears. One local academy aims to change that using technology.
Alexander Wood, 27, is the Assistant Dean of Students at a private boarding high school which caters only to students on the autism spectrum. There, Wood uses technology as an assistive tool in teaching and guiding the students to help them better organize their thoughts and track schedules.
The academy requires each student to have a MacBook upon admittance. For students with more severe reading disorders or written expressive disorders, installed on each laptop is a speech recognition application called Dragon. This enables to the students to speak using the computer’s embedded microphone and dictate what they want to type.
Dyslexic students struggle with word recognition and are prone to misplacing letters. Using Dragon allows the students with dyslexia to overcome stress and anxiety that often comes with writing, allowing students to be more productive.
Each computer also has an organization system installed to help students track their schedules, assignments, and even meal times. The students also use Apple’s built-in productivity tools like Sticky Notes and iCal to set reminders.
Lastly, the academy uses a website called Edline. Though the academy has only been using this service for a few years, they have seen great success. Wood says Edline has helped dramatically reduce anxiety by allowing special events or assignments to be frontloaded. Having a systemized schedule they can access regularly helps absolve the students’ fear of the unknown—which can be a big issue for autistic children.