It’s never easy dealing with developmental or language delays, especially when they concern children afflicted with autism. But today, many free resources developed by those who work directly with the affected children are freely available online.
Most just require a simple registration process to get started. http://hiyah.net/ was developed by a mother of two sons, who were interested in computers but weren’t comfortable using the mouse.
Sara Polito’s programs can be worked through just the spacebar. Mostly educational in content, they deal with maths, words and poetry that children enjoy. The site loads easily and has no distracting graphics. Sara’s software also has a series that breaks down the daily tasks into simple steps — visits to the dentist and the hairdresser that children can easily assimilate. Designed for children aged 18 months to 6 years, the site is free to access.
Closer home, we have the TooonDoo tool on the Jambav portal made for children of all educational abilities. A simple ‘drag and drop’ tool, it helps children create cartoon strips that help them express themselves more effectively.
For those who have issues coordinating the mouse, the MouseTrial Autism Software (http://tinyurl.com/7zfr8x3) might be of help. The instructions here are audio-based, requiring no reading skills. The site also has the ‘Round the House Module,’ which helps young children understand parts of the home and objects within. It also has a section that explains parts of the body and clothes, navigating these concepts through simple games.
To help children understand the range of colours and learn how to paint when coordination can be an issue are the Sesame Street games. Essentially these are colour sheets put online. All it takes are simple clicks to fill vibrant colours onto the pictures provided. The sheets can be printed out for being worked on by hand or on the computer. Featuring the beloved Sesame Street character Elmo, the pictures have no complex details, designed as they are to encourage children start painting.
Reading is another area where the online resources can help. starfall.com opened in September 2002 as a free service to teach children reading with phonics. Designed by Stephen Schutz, who struggled with reading as a child only to become a successful physicist, the site is an educational website designed to help with reading using characters such as Zac the Rat and others to ensure that the child is never intimidated. It starts with the basics and gradually works its way up to higher grades.