‘The real problem is not whether machines think but whether men do.’
B. F. Skinner
It wasn’t all that long ago that we didn’t have some of the technologies we’ve become accustomed to today. You’d run home from school as quickly as you could to wait next to the landline phone for a friend to call. Or you’d have to organize beforehand what time to take the phone call! Then you’d have to take the landline off the hook and ‘dial up’ to get an internet line. That crazy noise it made (brruu riiiii, mmmrrrrr, yyyyyyyyeeee] whilst your massive, brown computer unit spluttered in its attempt to get a clear wifi pathway. Do you remember trying to record a song from the radio onto your tape deck, ha! You’d wait until your little brother stopped walking in and out of the room so you could get a clear recording of all your favourite songs and make a playlist. Seems like a lifetime ago, but it really wasn’t.
How fast technology changes and advances! Quickly fax machines and Gameboys made way for iPads, iPods and Fibre Optic Broadband. And mobile phones!! How did we live without mobile phones?! Well we did,
and we did it well. It’s undeniable that developments in technology have come with plenty of pitfalls; particularly when we misuse its power and availability. But equally so, advancements in technology have
opened up a world of extra-ordinary opportunities, knowledge, and methods of learning. If we can harness this technology for good, the world is our oyster.
So if we want our kids to have the world as their oyster, we need to get with the times a bit. It might seem like a bit of a Goliath to some of us less ‘tech-savvy’ in the generation above, but don’t forget David slew Goliath in the end!
Technology for young people is pretty radical these days, and no less so than in the realm of technology to assist children on the spectrum. We can’t talk about them all at once, there are too many terrific advancements out there, so we will mention just one: GOLIAH is a platform that runs on mobile devices and allows a therapist to identify the child’s initial difficulties and strengths, ensuring tailored and specialized intervention by choosing appropriate and enjoyable games from which to learn, and have fun!
The multi-player gaming platform requires two computers or tablets, which is operated by the therapist or parent. Goliah* is currently available in three different languages (Italian, English, and French). The games involve numerous activities including: building recipes interactively (adding the appropriate ingredients into a bowl, learning how to make certain cuisines), musical instruments and sound repetition games, figurative design and art reproduction, games that imitate speech, actions, build attention, and many more. Platform options allow the therapist/parent to change the game or its difficulty level throughout the process, depending on the child’s progress.
The games were evaluated after a period of use by participants and showed a marked improvement in several areas: child’s self-esteem and concentration, improvements in child’s flexibility, imitation, fine motor skills, spontaneous sharing and the most exciting outcome- a significant improvement in child-parent relationship. That one’s our favourite.
Goliah is just one of many examples of how technology is assisting kids on the spectrum, but its success speaks to something more important about the way we introduce intervention assistance to our kids with A.S.D.
At the end of the day, kids are kids, they want to have fun! Goliah and other similar programs have recognized that when you concentrate on pleasure and excitement, learning happens inadvertently. Children all over the world are fascinated by creative technology, so it seems obvious that we should tap into their interests by showing interest ourselves. Smart, right?
And the fact that the activity is shared means that it cultivates a connection between child and parent, encourages play, art and fun together, ultimately developing mutual affection and understanding. We may not have grown up with as much technology, but that doesn’t mean we all can’t learn. Ok, except maybe this person:
If we embrace technology and all that it offers us by way of learning, we can empower our kids enormously. And who knows, maybe even have a little fun ourselves.