Currently submitted to: JMIR Pediatrics and Parenting
Date Submitted: Sep 12, 2018
Open Peer Review Period: Sep 16, 2018 - Nov 11, 2018
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Gadgets in gearing learning of children with Autism Spectrum Disorders in Rwandan
The prevalence of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) has increased rapidly in the last few decades due to the combination of biopsychosocial and environmental factors. Mobile phones, tablets and others electronic gadgets have transformed our communication, health care and learning. The appropriate use of these devices may benefit the learning of the children with ASD.
This research aims to find out how smart mobile phones and tablets can be used as a tool to potentiate the learning of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) in Rwanda.
This qualitative study was conducted from January 2017 to August 2017. Researchers conducted five Focus Group Discussions (FGD) with 56 participants from different background: teacher, school manager, parent, students with ASD, specialist in autism and special education. Each of the FGD took approximately two hours. A pre-defined set of open-ended questions were selected to evaluate the peopleâ€™s perception regarding assistive technologies used in ASD, ongoing activities, future implementation, the upcoming challenges and opportunities to use technology-based care to improve lives of persons with ASD. The interviews were recorded, transcribed, and analyzed.
In the interviews the school managers suggested that the integration of ICT tools will be helpful to educate the children with ASD. The performance of the children with autism in using the cognitive application appeared. The parents of children with ASD reported that their children were more interested in watching television, playing digital games, and drawing objects using gadgets than the real world.
This research supports the perception of integrating of smart gadgets in the Rwandan educational system as a potential solution to support and build the competency of children with ASD. Increasing social awareness of ASD and enhancing the motivation of Rwandan teachers would help to reduce the stigma of ASD among families and communities in Rwanda. However, the domain of ASD and the use of ICT need further research on program implementation and evaluation in a larger population sample.
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