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      The Use of Information Communication Technologies Among Children With Autism Spectrum Disorders: Descriptive Qualitative Study

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          Abstract

          Background

          The prevalence of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) appears to be increasing globally due to the complex interaction of multiple biopsychosocial and environmental factors. Mobile phones, tablets, and other electronic gadgets have transformed our means of communication, and have also changed both healthcare and how we learn. These technological enhancements may have a positive impact on the lives of children, but there is currently a global scarcity of information on how information technology influences the education of children with ASD.

          Objective

          This study was conducted in Rwandan schools and communities, and aimed to understand the perceptions of students with ASD, their parents, and their teachers, on the use of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in the education of those with ASD.

          Methods

          This qualitative descriptive study was conducted from December 2017 to July 2018. Researchers conducted four focus group discussions (FGDs) with 54 participants from different backgrounds: teachers, parents, and students with ASD. Each of the FGDs took approximately two and a half hours. A predefined set of open-ended questions were selected to discover people’s perceptions regarding assistive technologies used in ASD, their effectiveness, the scope of using them in their context, and upcoming challenges during implementation. The interviews were recorded, transcribed, and analyzed.

          Results

          The findings of the study revealed seven key themes: (1) the use of ICT for the education of children with ASD; (2) existing augmentative facilities for learning; (3) current patterns of use of ICT in education; (4) preferred areas of learning for ASD students; (5) integration of ICT into educational programs; (6) areas of interest outside the classroom; and (7) future opportunities and challenges in Rwanda. We found most of the study participants assumed that appropriate technology and related innovations might solve the challenges faced by learners with ASD in classrooms. Moreover, they thought that children with ASD more so enjoyed watching television, playing digital games, and drawing objects using gadgets than interacting with people or playing with other children.

          Conclusions

          The use of various low-cost technical devices can aid with teaching and the education of children with autism in Rwanda. However, this area requires further research to discover the impact ICT can have on the education of children with ASD, so this study may become a starting point for further research in the area.

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          Most cited references 33

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          Evidence-Based Practices for Children, Youth, and Young Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder: A Comprehensive Review.

          The purpose of this study was to identify evidenced-based, focused intervention practices for children and youth with autism spectrum disorder. This study was an extension and elaboration of a previous evidence-based practice review reported by Odom et al. (Prev Sch Fail 54:275-282, 2010b, doi: 10.1080/10459881003785506 ). In the current study, a computer search initially yielded 29,105 articles, and the subsequent screening and evaluation process found 456 studies to meet inclusion and methodological criteria. From this set of research studies, the authors found 27 focused intervention practices that met the criteria for evidence-based practice (EBP). Six new EBPs were identified in this review, and one EBP from the previous review was removed. The authors discuss implications for current practices and future research.
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            Use of computer-assisted technologies (CAT) to enhance social, communicative, and language development in children with autism spectrum disorders.

            Major advances in multimedia computer technology over the past decades have made sophisticated computer games readily available to the public. This, combined with the observation that most children, including those with autism spectrum disorders (ASD), show an affinity to computers, has led researchers to recognize the potential of computer technology as an effective and efficient tool in research and treatment. This paper reviews the use of computer-assisted technology (CAT), excluding strictly internet-based approaches, to enhance social, communicative, and language development in individuals with ASD by dividing the vast literature into four main areas: language, emotion recognition, theory of mind, and social skills. Although many studies illustrate the tremendous promise of CAT to enhance skills of individuals with ASD, most lack rigorous, scientific assessment of efficacy relative to non-CAT approaches.
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              Inclusion of Learners with Autism Spectrum Disorders in General Education Settings

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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                Journal
                JMIR Pediatr Parent
                JMIR Pediatr Parent
                JPP
                JMIR Pediatrics and Parenting
                JMIR Publications (Toronto, Canada )
                2561-6722
                Jul-Dec 2019
                27 September 2019
                : 2
                : 2
                Affiliations
                [1 ] School of Education University of Rwanda Rukara Rwanda
                [2 ] Telepsychiatry Research and Innovation Network Ltd Dhaka Bangladesh
                [3 ] School of Nursing and Midwifery University of Illinois at Chicago Kigali Rwanda
                Author notes
                Corresponding Author: Tanjir Rashid Soron tanjirsoron@ 123456gmail.com
                Article
                v2i2e12176
                10.2196/12176
                6789423
                31573940
                ©Theoneste Ntalindwa, Tanjir Rashid Soron, Mathias Nduwingoma, Evariste Karangwa, Rebecca White. Originally published in JMIR Pediatrics and Parenting (http://pediatrics.jmir.org), 27.09.2019

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work, first published in JMIR Pediatrics and Parenting, is properly cited. The complete bibliographic information, a link to the original publication on http://pediatrics.jmir.org, as well as this copyright and license information must be included.

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