Why is it that some autistic students respond so well to learning IT skills – and how can we use this to help them?
For many years Cambridge University’s Autism Research Centre has been studying the established link between parents working in hi-tech, scientific and mathematical industries and an increased incidence of children on the autism spectrum.
As a result of this research more and more IT companies in the UK and beyond have actively begun recruiting an autistic workforce for its highly technical and concentration skills.
Of course, while such a life may only be relevant to some autistic students, many autism experts agree with Professor Grandin at Colorado State University, herself autistic, who believes that without “the gifts of autism” there would probably be no Nasa or IT industry.
The fact is that very many autistic students can benefit from being able to work in an IT environment. As Richard Mills, director of Research Autism, said, “The computer age totally changes the world of autism.”
Indeed researchers at Nottingham University and Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh have found that people with autism value the increased control over their interactions that is afforded by the filter of a computer screen.
In short, they can observe interactions, choose when to be sociable, and make contact with other people who have autism.
Presenting information visually in the precise and predictable computer format suits the autistic mind, says Baron Cohen, and can provide “a tool or platform for developing further skills”. And, of course, it is a tool that helps them to take control of their adult lives.
It is to help students on the autism spectrum benefit in their move towards adulthood that SEN Press has developed a series of Value Packs which include whiteboard resources, worksheets, readers and a CD Rom of our ebooks.
Each pack is based on a theme of key benefit to autistic pupils such as Work Experience, Making Sense of Money, Relationships, etc. As a result the students gain two benefits – the growth in their own confidence and ability that can arise as a result of working with IT, while at the same time benefiting from the subject being studied.
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