Teaching Children with Developmental Disabilities to Operate Portable Media Players for Leisure and Learning Purposes
Social, communication, academic, and leisure skills are important for healthy development and a productive life. Individuals with developmental disabilities, however, have impairments that may affect their ability to acquire these skills or may not have had the opportunity to learn them. Compared to peers, these individuals may require additional or modified instruction to acquire new skills. A number of teaching techniques have been examined in the special education literature but as new technology, such as portable devices, become available, further research is needed to examine the effectiveness of interventions employing this new technology. The studies in this thesis examined the use of portable multimedia devices like the iPod Touch® and iPad® in combination with video modelling to teach leisure, academic and social skills to individuals with developmental disabilities. In the first two studies, students with severe intellectual disability were shown a video modelling instruction on an iPod Touch teaching them to operate the same iPod to watch video clips and listen to music. In the third study, a video modelling instruction was presented on an iPad to teach two students with Asperger syndrome how to use the spell-check function on a computer word processor. In the final study, a Social StoryTM presentation and a video modelling segment were presented on an iPad to demonstrate to two students with Asperger syndrome how to greet adults at school. An important aspect of these studies is that they afforded some degree of self-determination to the students by giving them a chance to have an input in the learning process (e.g. whether they would like to participate, how they prefer to learn, their favourite stimuli). Self-determination has been linked to a better quality of life and more positive academic, leisure, and independent living outcomes. Interventions promoting self-determination for individuals with intellectual disabilities and autism are, therefore, paramount. The data from all studies suggest video modelling and portable devices can be successfully used to teach a range of skills to children with developmental disabilities. The devices were not only effective as teaching tools but also provided the participants with opportunities for leisure activities. The use of portable technology allowed for efficient intervention delivery and may have had the additional advantage of being motivating to the participants. The studies also illustrate how the same procedures can be successfully used to teach children with lower and higher cognitive abilities.