Distance Learning Rehabilitation of Autistic Reasoning

Distance Learning Rehabilitation of Autistic Reasoning

Boris Galitsky (Birkbeck College University of London, UK)
Copyright: © 2009 |Pages: 7
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-198-8.ch101
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Abstract

Recent psychological studies have revealed that autistic children can neither reason properly about mental states of themselves and others, nor understand emotions (Leslie, 1987; Perner 1991; Pilowsky, Yirmiya, Arbelle, & Mozes 2000). Autism is a multifactor disorder that is characterized by impaired social interaction and communication, combined with repetitive and stereotyped patterns of behavior, and affects up to 1% of school-aged children in some geographic areas. In this article we are concerned with the strategies of rehabilitation of reasoning to improve communication skills of children with autism. It has been confirmed by multiple clinical studies that the properly timed treatment is essential for the autistic patient to increase the chance for recovery. An early behavioral intervention is highly beneficial for autistic children (Green, 1996; Jensen & Sinclair, 2002; Rogers, 1998). There is an opinion with increasing support by multiple researchers that intensive behavioral intervention (that can be stimulated in distance learning) may result in a dramatic improvement of autistic reasoning (McEachin, Smith, & Lovaas, 1993). From the viewpoint of autism experts who believe that there is no alternative to behavioral intervention (thought of as the only way to facilitate compensatory learning; see, e.g., Frith, 2001; Howlin, 1998), distance learning may be a useful aid for the education of parents and rehabilitation personnel.
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Introduction: The Value Of Distance Learning For Autistic Treatment

Recent psychological studies have revealed that autistic children can neither reason properly about mental states of themselves and others, nor understand emotions (Leslie, 1987; Perner 1991; Pilowsky, Yirmiya, Arbelle, & Mozes 2000). Autism is a multifactor disorder that is characterized by impaired social interaction and communication, combined with repetitive and stereotyped patterns of behavior, and affects up to 1% of school-aged children in some geographic areas. In this article we are concerned with the strategies of rehabilitation of reasoning to improve communication skills of children with autism.

It has been confirmed by multiple clinical studies that the properly timed treatment is essential for the autistic patient to increase the chance for recovery. An early behavioral intervention is highly beneficial for autistic children (Green, 1996; Jensen & Sinclair, 2002; Rogers, 1998). There is an opinion with increasing support by multiple researchers that intensive behavioral intervention (that can be stimulated in distance learning) may result in a dramatic improvement of autistic reasoning (McEachin, Smith, & Lovaas, 1993). From the viewpoint of autism experts who believe that there is no alternative to behavioral intervention (thought of as the only way to facilitate compensatory learning; see, e.g., Frith, 2001; Howlin, 1998), distance learning may be a useful aid for the education of parents and rehabilitation personnel.

Multiple technologies have been suggested to support autistic learning, including playing LEGO (Resnick, 1987), video-clips together with a set of dolls, and autonomous mobile robots. Also, asking questions about mental states of the scene characters, textual scenarios, and characters of the works of literature (Galitsky, 2003) is a good assistance to parents and rehabilitation personnel in the proper diagnosis and training of the corrupted autistic reasoning.

Virtual educational facilities introduced in this article are delivered primarily online, that is, by networks such as the Internet or intranets, using asynchronous technologies such as computer conferencing or Web-based technologies especially customized for education (Hietz, 1995; Nasseh, 1999). These learning technologies enable and support active, collaborative learning approaches, and the software provides tools for: designing courses and developing an interactive course syllabus, conducting individual and group learning activities, and recording and accessing evaluations and grades. In cases of autistic distance learning, collaborative learning is essential for communication skills. Using this technology the learners are encouraged to perform introspection to communicate the fact that they are capable of understanding this very capability of communication (Meyen, Lian & Tangen, 1997).

We outline the reasons of the high rehabilitation value of distance learning:

Key Terms in this Chapter

Learning Management System (LMS): A software that automates the administration of training events. The LMS registers users, tracks courses in a catalogue, and records data from learners; it also provides reports to management. The database capabilities of the LMS extend to additional functions such as company management, online assessments, personalization, and other resources. Learning management systems administer and track both online and classroom-based learning events, as well as other training processes (these would need to be manually entered into the system for tracking purposes).

Synchronous E-Learning: Communication occurs at the same time between individuals, and information is accessed instantly. Examples of synchronous e-learning include real-time chat and video/audio conferencing. Synchronous e-learning can provide instant feedback on a student’s performance and allows the training to be adjusted immediately if needed. The disadvantages of synchronous e-learning are that the training is not self-paced, and the logistics of scheduling, time zones, and student availability need to be managed.

Autism: A developmental disability significantly affecting verbal and nonverbal communications and social interaction, generally evident before age three, that adversely affects a child’s educational performance. Other characteristics often associated with autism are: engagement in repetitive activities and stereotyped movements, resistance to environmental change or change in daily routines, and unusual responses to sensory experiences.

Self-Paced Training: Training taken at a time and pace determined by the user. Used historically for text or audio/video self-study courses, the term is used by some organizations now to include computer-based, Web-based, and multimedia training.

E-Learning: Education via the Internet, network, or standalone computer. Network-enabled transfer of skills and knowledge. E-learning refers to using electronic applications and processes to learn. E-learning applications and processes include Web-based learning, computer-based learning, virtual classrooms, and digital collaboration. Content is delivered via the Internet, intranet/extranet, audio or videotape, satellite TV, and CD-ROM.

Mental State: A mental condition in which the qualities of a state are relatively constant, even though the state itself may be dynamic; “a manic state.”

Learning Object (LOS): Also called reusable learning objects; not really a set technology, but rather a philosophy for how content can be created and deployed. Learning objects refer to self-contained chunks of training content that can be assembled with other learning objects to create courses and curricula, much the same way a child’s Lego blocks are assembled to create all types of structures. Learning objects are designed to be used in multiple training contexts, aim to increase the flexibility of training, and make updating courses much easier to manage.

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