Progress Report of Proposal

The Proposal
Details can be found here.

Proposal/Goals of Project & Target Groups
The goal of the project was to set up a data base of links to resources on autism on the world wide web that would be of use of caregivers, professionals and volunteers who are interested in furthering their knowledge on the field. The web page will include links to basic facts on autism, national and international societies, mailing lists, data bases, residential facilities, audio visual resources, other related autistic-like disorders, research issues and journals on the web which publishes research articles.

Another goal of the project was to provide parents and educators a resource of pictures which are considered to have visual reinforcing properties. Parents would be able to use these pictures available on the web page or other links to teach spontaneous communication with their children with autism.

Progress:
I have been pursuing two goals in my project, with the intention of pursuing just one of these, if either one does not work out.

A page of autism links have been set up (http://lrs.ed.uiuc.edu/students/ajk/autism.html). These links were based on the number of hits based on engine searches such as alta vista, infoseek, yahoo, excite and web crawler and those which have been considered useful and comprehensive in comments by professionals, caregivers, national associations and recommendations from web sites. Formative evaluation has been done based on general feedback from colleagues and also individuals. Currently a general feedback form has been appended on the web page (http://lrs.ed.uiuc.edu/students/ajk/autism.html#Feedback).

At this present point in time, I am in the process of designing a more specific feedback form (http://lrs.ed.uiuc.edu/students/ajk/gif.html). Web pages that had feedback forms were surveyed and ideas are in the process of being incorporated in the final. This feedback form will replace the existing feedback form on the web page

The proposed evaluation of the web page would be based on structural and functional features of the web page. Structural features include the design of the page and layout while functional features refer to those which can enhance utility and therapeutic effectiveness of interventions.

I have joined the mailing lists on autism and advertised my web page. Joining these mailing lists also enabled me to be acquainted with the current issues and concerns of parents. An analysis of these mailing lists will be done and links which are useful to these expressed concerns and current issues, for example, the research on genetic research in autism, will be included in the web page.

I have also developed a library of GIFs, such as trains and stars which autistic children are usually interested in (http://lrs.ed.uiuc.edu/students/ajk/autism.html#Activity) and located sites which have a data base of GIFs (http://lrs.ed.uiuc.edu/students/ajk/autism.html#GIF Sites). These have been found useful based on the authorís clinical experience, existing literature on communication and motivation and autistic childrenís favorite toys, commonly described as "stim" (short form for self-stimulatory) toys.

I am in the process of developing a set of "how to enhance spontaneous communication" instructions to be placed together with the GIFs. This is for parents and those who are interested but do not have the basic skills in facilitating spontaneous communication in children with autism.

I have also gotten in touch with professionals in autism in the United States and in Singapore to determine what might be a useful web page of autism links.