Section: New Results
Tablet-Based Activity Schedule in Mainstream Environment for Children with Autism and Children with ID
Including children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) in mainstream environments creates a need for new interventions whose efficacy must be assessed in situ. This article presents a tablet-based application for activity schedules that has been designed following a participatory design approach involving mainstream teachers, special education teachers, and school aides. This application addresses two domains of activities: classroom routines and verbal communications. We assessed the efficiency of our application with two overlapping user studies in mainstream inclusion, sharing a group of children with ASD. The first experiment involved 10 children with ASD, where five children were equipped with our tabled-based application and five were not equipped. We show that (1) the use of the application is rapidly self-initiated (after 2 months for almost all the participants) and (2) the tablet-supported routines are better performed after 3 months of intervention. The second experiment involved 10 children equipped with our application; it shared the data collected for the five children with ASD and compared them with data collected for five children with intellectual disability (ID). We show that (1) children with ID are not autonomous in the use of the application at the end of the intervention, (2) both groups exhibited the same benefits on classroom routines, and (3) children with ID improve significantly less their performance on verbal communication routines. These results are discussed in relation with our design principles. Importantly, the inclusion of a group with another neurodevelopmental condition provided insights about the applicability of these principles beyond the target population of children with ASD.