Saturday, March 15, 2008

Using PDA's and Handhelds for Teaching Social Skills

I received an email the other day from a school psychologist asking about using pda's for teaching social skills to students with emotional, learning and other disabilities like autism.
She referred me to an article in The Boston Globe (link here). The article described studies on the impact of a specially-designed software for the pda with social behavior cues on the social interaction of autistic teens that were high functioning, but with social issues.

The study used three separate pieces to implement the training:
1. The use of "reminders" on the pda that shared things like, "Stay on the conversational topic - don't ramble", "Let others get a word in edge-wise", "Listen to what others are saying", etc.

2. The use of a daily rating system that the student and the teacher used to record success in remembering the skills.
3. A pda journal or log where the student could report emotional states during the day and vent out anger, loneliness, frustrations, etc.

The students shared that by doing this, they were remembering better what they needed to do. By logging their feelings, they were able to get them out and let go of them. The rating system helped students and teachers compare progress and the study was showing that the ratings by both groups lined up pretty consistently.
The article shared that this program is showing support and some conditioning pieces happening for kids - but that it is not meant to be a "cure" for autism or any other disorder. It remains to be seen exactly what the impact will be.
I am going to use this basic idea and see what I can come up with on one of our older Palms we have sitting in the office. I would like to get it going for a student referral that our psych department has said could use something like this .

I'll let you know how it goes.

All the best to you!


No comments: