Establishment of a Comprehensive Page of Activity-Related Resources For Parents, Teachers and Therapists of Autism on the World Wide Web
 

Rationale:
A search on the world wide web using the common search engines, InfoSeek, Lycos, Excite, Alta Vista using the words "autism", "resources", "links to autism resources" yielded a rich variety of information on the availibility of data bases for researchers, teachers, parents and interested parties. There were many comprehensive links documenting available resources on autism ranging from general information, support resources such as emailing lists and on-line support groups, interest groups at the local and national level, autism associations and societies, research information (on-line papers, up-to-date), existing data bases, related disabilities such as Aspergerís Syndrome and Hyperlexia, methods of interventions, treatments and existing programs in the United States, Canada and worldwide for individuals with autism. Indeed there are very comprehensive links on the world wide web for caregivers, teachers and interested parties. Of interest are the data base set up by John Wobus (http://web.syr.ed/~jmwobus/autism/) and Ray Cobb (http://web.syr.ed/~rjkopp/autismlink.html) from Syracuse University. These are often updated and have most often referred by others compiling resources on autism in their home pages. For another overview of the resources on autism, please refer to my homepage (http://lrs.ed.uiuc.edu/students/ajk/autism.html).

However these web pages seldom have links that provide parents with suggestions on how to engage their autistic child in play and/or communication. Research has been shown that individuals with autism consider particular activities and objects such as moving trains, cars, electronic gizmos to be more motivating than the average child. Researchers have shown that toys computer related activities which involves the use of moving graphics (Chen & Bernard-Opitz, 1992) and toys with unusual properties that are visual and auditory in nature, could elicit spontaneous communication from low-functioning children with autism (Kok & Bernard-Opitz, 1991). A readily available web page of links that will enable them to be acquainted with new ideas for working and teaching the target group and possible "reinforcers" with sensory properties such as animated G.I.F.s  and programs that are available as motivational tools, will go a long way in facilitating the learning process for the parents and the child.

A web page which that shows the URLs to play and communication activities and links to animated computer graphics and free shareware programs is proposed..

Goals of the Homepage
1.  To provide individuals with an organized page to links to autism resources on the world wide web.

2.  To provide and establish links to resources for educating and teaching children with autism.

Target Group
Parents, caregivers, teachers and those who are interested in new innovative ideas in teaching children social skills, such as appropriate play and communication skills.

Method
An initial review of home pages of organizations and personal individuals with an interest in autism in the States will be conducted. Characteristics of the links which come up most frequently when using the search engines such as Infoseek, Lycos, Excite, Alta Vista, etc will be described in terms of page layout, accessibility, organization and the number of links. A comparison of these home pages in terms of the characteristics will be done to provide a rationale for building a data base on autism resources for teaching.

I will be in touch via electronic mail, with the Autism Association of Singapore to assess whether they will consider the proposed homepage to be useful. A group of volunteers from the Association have recently started a program called Reach-Me Project in which teachers are trained to assess the needs of the children, to recognise and teach autistic children who will be in the company of normal kids in mainstream schools.

Implementation
The newly set up link page will be made known to mailing lists on autism groups in the United States and other parts of the world. Suggestions elicited from teachers and parents will be incorporated to the homepage if they are consistent with the goals of the proposal.

Evaluation of Use
A formative as well as a summative evaluation will be used to evaluate the effectiveness as well as the utility of the web page.

Comments, suggestions and ongoing feedback will be elicited from parents, caregivers, teachers and interested parties while the web page is being constructed. These will assess whether the homepage are meeting their needs.

Feedback will be solicited by the way of a built in system. A web page will be set up to facilitate this process.

Requests for feedback of usefulness and comprehensiveness of links will be also solicited from mailing lists.

The number of individuals who visit the web page will be analyzed in terms of the country in which they are accessed and the usage level (in terms of days of the week, months).
 

Updated on March 4th, 1998