The Autism Suite for the omiVista has been designed by specialist teachers to enable users to develop a whole range of skills in a way that is engaging, challenging and perhaps most importantly reassuringly structured.
The 7 main areas that it supports have been identified as those most beneficial to the autistic learner across a wide range of abilities.
- Social Interaction
- Emotional Understanding
- Communication Skills
- Flexible Thinking
- Personal Organisation
- Motor Skills
- Sensory – (Calming & Alerting)
Each area addresses specific skills and builds on them to maximise users’ progress and sense of achievement through a structured set of apps with a detailed user manual that will help staff to facilitate focused sessions with clear objectives.
The first 4 areas of Social Interaction, Emotional Understanding, Flexible Thinking and Communication Skills are key to supporting individuals’ who may struggle with…
- daily social skills,
- feeling different/ isolated
- have difficulty communicating their feelings
- struggle to recognise emotions in others
- find it hard to read situations and respond appropriately
Enhancing their social skill set is vital for them to feel a sense of self-worth and belonging. The Suite introduces each concept a step at a time encouraging users to explore for example their:
- likes and dislikes
- thoughts/dreams/favourite places
- emotional responses
- body language
- coping methods and personal aspirations
Specific apps teach for example:
- conversation starters
- how to read faces and interpret emotions,
- to understand and control own emotions
- how to describe people,
- ways of talking about themselves
- recognise others’ points of view
- to understand and tell jokes
- to use idioms in the correct context.
All of these apps are presented in a way that is truly interactive and engaging but in a format that is familiar, encouraging openness and self-discovery.
At OMi we recognise that specific skills such as ‘sharing spaces with others’ need to be taught and learnt through experience, so apps have been created to encourage these cooperative behaviours…for example by:
- solving a large interactive puzzle a piece at a time
- taking turns jumping in a virtual pond
- ‘digging’ in the sand to find beach toys
- ‘passing’ a beach ball across the sea
- ‘throwing’ frisbees over grass,
- ‘revealing’ hidden animals
- ‘pushing’ virtual cars along the floor.
The interactions are fun, meaningful and ‘safe’ and users also receive valuable vestibular and proprioceptive feedback helping them to develop greater physical awareness.
The 3 areas headed Personal Organisation, Motor Skills and Sensory (calming/alerting) also support key learning concepts for those with autism. The Personal Organisation apps help users to explore specific skills relating to personal hygiene, space, belongings and personal responsibility i.e. actions/consequences, health & safety issues.
The Motor skills category supports aspects of coordination, balance, orientation and other physical challenges. Walking/balancing across a virtual rippling pond using stepping stones can give users a powerful sense of achievement but without the risk of getting wet or needing towels! These skills then become transferable just as one child overcame his fear of bath-time by sitting in one of our virtual water-filled baths.
There are a large number of Sensory apps in this suite designed to both stimulate and relax, calm and alert. Some focus on visual stimuli including powerful scenes from nature and others use sounds to relax or engage the user from crashing waves to pouring rain, white noise to garden birds. Others require greater physical commitment to complete the task…
- Scattering leaves
- Catching feathers
- Wafting balloons
- Splatting paint balls
- Chasing stars etc.
All Sensory apps invite the user to engage in an activity that can be both restful/stimulating, can divert or alert and offer important opportunities for vestibular & proprioceptive feedback.
This Suite of gesture-activated experiences is highly motivating for users on the autism spectrum and effectively supports the work of O.T’s, Speech and Language Therapists and other 1:1 professionals. Anticipated release Easter 2016.
This suite has been created in collaboration with Jo Bridson, ASC specialist teacher at Help With Autism Ltd. www.helpwithautism.co.uk