On Wednesday 19th February a training session for Stepping Stones staff took place in Stepping Stones Play & Learn Group premises. The training was given by personnel of the equipment manufacturer who spent more than 4 hours demonstrating how the system works, the App content, advanced features and best practices.
Since every child diagnosed as being on the autism spectrum has different strengths and weaknesses, the priority for addressing these will be determined by Stepping Stones’ staff depending on the perceived barriers to learning or integration and the child’s current anxieties.
In general children with autism do not learn through observation. They need to have skills directly taught to them. In order for skills to be used independently this direct teaching will need to follow three distinct phases. Firstly, the skill will need to be explicitly modelled, then it will need to be practised with assistance and finally practised independently.
The trainer explained how to use the Autism Suite; the Apps specially design for autistic kids. The Autism Suite is divided into seven key areas of need for children on the autism spectrum with Apps available to assist development in each of the key areas. Each App is accompanied by teacher notes giving instructions and suggested uses. A detailed manual was provided for staff to get quick access to apps information.
The seven areas covered by Autism Suite are:
- Social Interaction
- Emotional Understanding
- Communication Skills
- Flexible Thinking
- Personal Organisation
- Motor Skills
The Autism Suite offers a highly motivating way of learning for children on the autism spectrum. They include engaging visual resources that allow learning through imitation as well as direct teaching of skills. They address key areas of difficulty as well as supporting the work of Occupational Therapy and Speech and Language Therapy.
Finally, the instructor answer questions and there was an opportunity for staff to further explore the equipment and features.