The US National Science Foundation has awarded $10 million to a conglomerate of research universities, headed by Georgia Tech, to develop a computer screening system for earlier autism diagnoses.
The article goes onto say "While these programs might provide help for children who have not yet been diagnosed, school districts and autism awareness groups are finding new ways to provide appropriate instruction to those already struggling with the disorder.Marty Burns, a speech, language, and communication pathologist, tested the program Fast ForWord as part of a research trial in 1996. The software exercises parts of the brain’s left hemisphere that are responsible for auditory processing."
“[It helps children] hold sounds in their mind and listen to language, remember what they’ve heard, and be able to start communicate more effectively—and then from there, learning how to read,” Burns said.
Fast ForWord users generally gain about two years in receptive language age, sometimes in just eight to 10 weeks.
“That’s remarkable, because there’s nothing else I’ve ever used that you can get that great of an improvement in receptive language skills in that short a period of time,” said Burns. “It also helps that their ability to remember things, so they can function better in a classroom.”
The software is not intended as a curriculum replacement, but rather a tool that lets students with ASD participate more in regular lessons.
“It’s designed to improve what we call brain fitness, as opposed to teaching content,” Burns said.
She gave an analogy of having students try out for a football team. “You could teach them football, or you could improve their fitness and strength and agility and then teach them football,” Burns said. “Fast ForWord products build brain capacity and efficiency, so they actually are helpful with any teaching because they’re targeted to improve the learner’s ability to learn in general.”
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