Tags: autism | job | app | work | apple

Autism Help: There’s an app for That

Wednesday, 05 September 2012 12:39 PM

In an intriguing and unlikely new use for personal technology, occupational therapists have developed an application for Apple’s iPod Touch that helps adults with autism function better in the workplace.
Researchers said the app, detailed in the Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation, can help the estimated 15 percent of working Americans with autism spectrum disorder manage difficulties related to cognition, behavior, communication, and sensory processing – all of which can impact their ability to attain and retain employment.
The “task management” and “organizational features” on personal digital assistants like the iPod Touch function as job coaching aids in the workplace, including reminders of how to perform certain tasks, tips for managing (and correcting) inappropriate behaviors, and step-by-step guides to doing complicated work assignments.
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"Strategies that provide enlightened workplace supports are clearly needed in order to help people with ASD find useful work and perform successfully on the job," said lead investigator Tony Gentry, of the Department of Occupational Therapy at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond. "Adults with ASD often have valuable assets and strengths that are sought after in the workplace, such as logical and mathematical ability, exceptional computer skills, or photographic memory."
In their report, Gentry and colleagues said case studies involving participants in a 4-year test of the app found it to be a useful workplace tool. Each individual was given a vocational placement and given an iPod Touch, programmed by an occupational therapist with individualized applications as vocational aids.
Researchers found the participants – who worked as fast-food employees, housekeepers, and in other jobs – had improved work performance and fewer behavioral challenges.
"This is an exciting time for anyone in the fields of education, physical rehabilitation, and vocational support, where we are seeing a long-awaited merging of consumer products and assistive technologies for all," said Gentry. "Field-based research in real world environments is essential to help us determine how best to use these tools to help our clients live more rewarding lives."
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Occupational therapists have developed a PDA app that helps autistics function better in the workplace.
Wednesday, 05 September 2012 12:39 PM
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