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Students in Action with Autism Expressed

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The question, "Who is this program for?" comes up often when talking to prospective clients about Autism Expressed.

Someone who is not exposed to people with autism might interpret some of their behaviors as characteristic of someone who is not teachable, but that is just not true. People also may assume that teaching digital literacy is appropriate only for the student that is "higher-functioning" (a term I don't like using). With Autism Expressed, I want to change the perspective of society when it comes to the capabilities of individuals with cognitive variations.

Teachers and students are doing amazing things with the Autism Expressed product. A great example came to me from a middle school autistic support classroom teacher who is using Autism Expressed to teach digital literacy and also as a tool to developing socialization and communication, a sense of autonomy, and goal-setting skills.

This teacher shared with me a video she created with her students. It starts with students introducing themselves by talking about their interests and capabilities. I listened to each student describe how they use Autism Expressed, what they are learning, and what they like about the program. I noticed a wide range of verbal ability and cognitive skills among students. They talked about using industry-standard programs, like Gmail and Google Drive, which I use to manage my own projects. The applications are used in many companies as communication tools, so these middle school students are already developing professional and marketable skills.

The video went on to show a project where teachers used supplemental materials to make the learning social. Students from grades six to 12 practiced posting appropriate comments on mock-up social media posts. Every student had a Post-it on which they wrote a comment about the social media posts hanging in the classroom. After they posted their own comment, they used another Post-it to share an appropriate response to a classmate's comment.

Meanwhile, elementary students watched the videos in the Autism Expressed platform to learn vocabulary and conceptual knowledge about chatting, searching, and sharing. I was impressed to see the younger students engaged in this activity, since at this age they can often be rambunctious&mdash'with or without autism.

What was especially telling about this video was how the teacher showed students who might be described as "lower functioning" (a term I also do not like to use) engaged with the Autism Expressed platform. Students with limited verbal ability were expressive about what they liked about the program. Some even used the iPad to communicate.

The video was a beautiful expression of the impact the program has been making and I found it very moving. This is exactly the range of impact we want to see: our program used as a curriculum, an assistive technology, and even a professional development tool to change the approach of how individuals with disabilities are educated to achieve greater outcomes.

This video is such a good answer to the question, "Who is this program for?" I've shared it below:
https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B5tiOdFfw31TRzI3WWQ3OTA2NFU/edit?usp=sharing

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