Autism and technology

9th May 2003 at 01:00

SUPPORTING CHILDREN WITH AUTISM IN MAINSTREAM SCHOOLS. By Diane Seach, Michelle Lloyd and Miranda Preston. Questions Publishing pound;17.50

AUTISM AND ICT; a guide for parents and teachers. By Colin Hardy, Jan Ogden and Sally Cooper. David Fulton pound;14

Recent figures from the Medical Research Council suggest that autistic spectrum disorder affects 60 in 10,000 pupils, so in any school there will be at least some pupils with this diagnosis. While not all of them will require special provision, the importance to NQTs of information about the spectrum is obvious.

Glenys Jones's book is based on research and her discussions with professionals and parents and insights from adults with autism. It provides a sound overview, spanning the whole intellectual range and covers educational decisions from the choice of the first school to life beyond school, consistently emphasising the need for partnership and individual planning.

Diane Seach and colleagues focus on school-based education and suggest practical strategies that have been found to be successful. More than half the book is devoted to five case studies which illustrate the diversity in this group of learners, the variation in provision, particularly at the secondary stage and some of the complexities.

Despite this variation, there is a striking consistency in the positive reactions of pupils with autism to computers. Autism and ICT discusses the educational potential of information and communications technology and gives a wealth of practical guidance. While ICT is not portrayed as a replacement for other methods, a persuasive case is made for considering how it can enrich the education of pupils with autism and provides examples and information about the opportunities that exist.

Sue Pearson is a lecturer at the University of Leeds

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