Addressing Executive Function Using Assistive Technology to Increase Access to the 21st Century Skills

Addressing Executive Function Using Assistive Technology to Increase Access to the 21st Century Skills

Brenda Smith Myles (Ohio Center for Autism and Low Incidence, USA) and Jan Rogers (Ohio Center for Autism and Low Incidence, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-0034-6.ch079
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Abstract

Access to the common core and the general education environment are attainable goals for learners on the autism spectrum when their autism is clearly understood and meaningful supports and instruction are in place. This chapter focuses on one area that is often not addressed for students with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) yet is critical to academic success: executive function. Specifically, this chapter overviews the executive function challenges related to ASD and technology supports in the executive functions areas of (a) information management, (b) materials management, (c) time management, and (d) self-management.
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Introduction

The outcomes of adults with autism in terms of independent living, developing and maintaining meaningful relationships, and employment have generally been consistent since the 1960s (Henninger & Taylor, 2012). That is, sadly, the majority do not achieve a high quality of life – a finding that has been validated by self-reports of individuals with high-functioning autism spectrum disorders (HFASD) (Müller, Schuler, & Yates, 2008) as well as results of the National Longitudinal Transition Study (NLTS2) (Shattuck et al., 2012).

How can this dismal trajectory be changed? Learner outcomes will improve when they are taught meaningful skills. The 21st Century Student Outcomes and Support Systems (Partnership for 21st Century Skills, n.d.) have formally recognized that life success goes beyond academics by incorporating a focus on (a) Life and Career Skills; (b) Learning and Innovation Skills; and (c) Information, Media, and Technology Skills (see Table 1 for a brief description of these areas). In addition, it is important match the skills that need to be taught to evidence-based practices (EBP) – strategies that have been shown to be effective for learners on the spectrum (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services [CMS], 2010; National Autism Center [NAC], 2009; National Professional Development Center on ASD [NPDC], 2009) (see overview in Table 2).

Table 1.
21st century student outcomes
OutcomesSkill Areas
Core Subjects and 21stCentury ThemesEnglish, reading or language arts
World languages
Arts
Mathematics
Economics
Geography
History, government, and civics
Global awareness
Financial, economic, business, and entrepreneurial literacy
Civic literacy
Health literacy
Environmental literacy
Life and Career SkillsFlexibility and adaptability
Initiative and self-direction
Social and cross-cultural skills
Productivity and accountability
Leadership and responsibility
Learning and Innovation SkillsCritical thinking
Communication
Collaboration
Creativity
Information, Media and Technology SkillsInformation literacy
Media literacy
Information, communications, and technology

Note. Partnership for 21st Century Skills (n.d.).

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