Philadelphia – Michele McKeone founder of Autism Expressed teaches digital skills to students with autism.
Philly.com report that experts believe it is the first program of its kind on the market.
Michele studied digital media at the University of the Arts before gaining a master’s degree in education.
She began teaching in 2008 and was surprised that there was nothing in the curriculum about understanding and using technology.
So she began teaching her students about e-mail, Web browsing, video editing and coding.
Philadelphia School District officials then began asking Michele to talk in teacher training sessions about her experiences and she highlighted the need for teaching tech skills to special-education students.
“There’s no reason I can’t teach students coding if they can learn e-mail. It’s about sequencing. It’s about executive function.”
Kristen A. Graham reports that according to recent research, about half of all young people with autism are not employed or enrolled in postsecondary education within two years of leaving high school.
Michele’s students are extremely capable in the digital world.
“HTML is logical, and we’d be working on it, and they would pick up the little things I wouldn’t see,” McKeone said. “And even if students are doing a vocational program, they still need to be able to e-mail, to fill out a job application online.”
Penn’s Center for Mental Health Policy Director David Mandell said:
“There’s an extraordinary need. People didn’t even know that there was a need until this program came along.”
Autism Expressed evolved from the work that she did with students and was launched in 2013.
Leslie Barretta a parent of a child with autism met Michele 2 years ago at an event for female entrepreneurs. Her son Ben, now 10 became a beta tester.
“It’s organized in a way where he could digest it in chunks and build. He’s getting badges, he’s getting feedback. It’s using the various senses,”
“This makes the kids feel like they got information that’s important,” Barretta said, “and it gives them a bridge to other kids – and that’s something that’s not so easy.”
The full article by Kristen A. Graham on the phily.com website can be found here