Caregivers’ Guide: Activity schedules on iPads for children with autism

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26/07/2013
This paper explains how caregivers can create activity schedules on iPads for their children with autism and teach them to follow these schedules independently. It also describes how the prerequisite skills to follow activity schedules can be taught via iPads. 
 
Compared with previous paper-based methods, iPad schedules take less time and effort to prepare, increase engagement and decrease overlearning, are easier to use and provide more instant gratification for children with autism. Activity schedules help individuals with autism independently organize and control their lives, increase their social interaction skills and ability to make choices. Yet, it is very difficult to carry the activity schedules that are in multiple bulky folders and their audio components that are in voice recorders and sizeable audio card readers to places outside the school and home, such as restaurants or family visits. 
 
Fortunately, the entire activity schedule can be fitted into a single iPad application, in which voices and videos can be recorded as well, which eliminates the need to carry the voice recorders or the audio card readers. iPads are so common that they don’t stand out in social settings, decreasing children’s self-consciousness about being “different”, and they are easy to use, customize, and carry around. The games, such as puzzles, that will keep the children engaged and prevent them from performing their stereotypical behaviors at outside settings are difficult to be carried around, but not when they are in iPads. This paper also explains data collection methods to observe children’s learning success and the steps to follow after children master their first activity schedule.