for Parents

This page is intended to provide a useful resource for parents of children with and without autism. A lot of the focus is on technology, since much of DART’s work is in this field, and on autism specifically.

For parents of children who don’t have autism, you might like to start with a look at this set of slides for a recent talk to the Edinburgh Skeptics.  The talk explores the relationship between screentime and child development, reviewing the scientific literature and thereby exposing some common misconceptions. I’ve also summarised a few key points regarding the use of technology in schools in this handout for parents, originally developed for my own children’s school in Edinburgh. There are lots of good articles out there discussing the role of technology in learning and development as well. As a starter have a look at this piece in the Times Educational Supplement and this blog by Ed Tech leader and common sense advocate Jose Picardo.

Stupid_12464b_2408358When it comes to kids with autism, it is our feeling, as described so wonderfully by old Albert here, that children with autism are sometimes judged less able than they are because they’re in an unhelpful context.  Using technology, not for all kids but for many, can be a way for them to demonstrate skills and get back in charge of play, learning and life. This is one of the reasons we’re so keen at DART to use research to explore how technology can best serve the needs of the autism community.  We put together this downloadable guide for parents on how to get the most from technology. In addition, an overview of research findings in this field can be seen in these slides for a talk on technology and autism given to parents and practitioners at Middletown Autism in Northern Ireland in June 2014. More recently (march 2017) I gave a set of three talks to Autism Argyll which report on:

One hot topic currently is the extent to which technology might provide a life-changing solution for children with autism to help overcome their difficulties with traditional communication. I recently supervised a group of students who put together a helpful resource evaluating the evidence for various high and low-tech communication supports which can be seen at these pages hosted within the DART site.

A separate topic we’ve recently started exploring, in collaboration with researchers in other parts of the University of Edinburgh, is the interplay between bilingualism and autism. As a result of our preliminary research and evaluation of the literature we’ve produced this bilingualism and autism fact sheet for parents who are deciding whether to raise their autistic child bilingually or not.

Comment from a father who took part in the Click-East project

Comment from a father who took part in the Click-East project

In addition, of course, this page is a place to share news about research opportunities.  At the moment we’re not recruiting to any active studies, but please check back if you would like to be involved in our work. You can also sign up to the blog (click on the Feedburner link on the right hand side) or the mailing list by emailing us. As the quotations above indicate, we try to give our families a nice time and some useful info as a result of their participation.