ACER in China
In April 2016, Ryan Bradley of ACER participated in a conference in Beijing organised by the China Rehabilitation Research Center and China Association of Rehabilitation of Disabled Persons.The purpose of the visit was not only to showcase the internationally renowned work of ACER and to share knowledge about best practice in autism education and research, but to develop further links which were established during a previous visit in 2015, when Ryan was accompanied by Dr Karen Guldberg, director of ACER.
At that time, Karen and Ryan met a range of practitioners and professionals and held in-depth discussions with them about the current attitudes and approaches towards autism education in China and the UK. Karen and Ryan were shown some of the main educational and health provision and settings for children and young people on the autistic spectrum in Beijing.
The more recent visit was arranged by GTOG investment as part of discussions on the development of educational courses and training, research and consultation to schools and Higher Education institutions in China. This partnership, which includes an agreement on autism education signed by different representatives and experts from China and the UK, is further evidence of the importance of international perspectives in the autism education and research field.
See here for more information about Ryan’s visit, the project, and participating partners.
On World Autism Awareness Day 2015, Dr Karen Guldberg reports from Hyderabad, India
This year, I have the privilege of working in an autism village in India on World Autism Awareness Day. In the run-up to WAAD, my colleague Kaska Porayska Pomsta and I have been running workshops at the Care for Autism school in Hyderabad for their teachers and parents. We are here with a research team consisting of colleagues from IIIT Hyderabad and two young volunteers who are helping us. We are part of a project called TESSA: UK-India intercultural knowledge transfer in technology-enhanced school and home support for autism spectrum conditions. The project is led and funded by the UCL Institute of Education and it is concerned with knowledge transfer between researchers, autism practitioners, teachers and parents in the UK and India.
Over nine years, the partnership between the UCL institute of Education and the University of Birmingham has resulted in the development of Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL) tools, methods and practices for supporting learning. Our work has been developed through sustained involvement of teachers, parents and pupils with autism in our research.
We are building on work we have undertaken in the UK, which also involved colleagues at Birkbeck as well as a business called Tandemis, on the creation of a digital platform called SHARE-IT. Share-It is a platform that was created to support the development of social communication in children with autism and to help them reduce anxiety. The software consists of a magic garden, with interactive objects and an intelligent virtual agent who can respond to the children.
We are conducting development work on the technology for the Indian context during a series of workshops in Hyderabad throughout April. Our work focuses on understanding more about the Indian educational context in general and schools in Hyderabad in particular. So far, we have worked with teachers and parents of the Care for Autism school over two days where we have had a lovely and engaging time exchanging knowledge and information about research and practices in the different countries. Parents and teachers have been very open to reflecting on how their children currently learn and engage in technology use, to try new technologies and to inform the further design of culturally appropriate learning activities.
We are particularly excited about this work because we are all gaining the opportunity to develop further understandings about different cultural contexts and to address not only how technologies can best be used in education in different countries, but also to consider how to design technologies in a way that is meaningful for children with autism in the Indian context.