Assistive writing - Step-write

This project aims to assess the effectiveness of an assistive writing software application with a broad range of children on the autism spectrum. It extends work undertaken in the earlier project Overcoming difficulties with written expression which developed digital resources to investigate research aims focussed on improving the quality and length of written expression of children on the autism spectrum. The project employed video modelling, assistive technology and Self-regulated Strategy Development (SRSD) techniques in resource development. These techniques were embedded into prototype software that scaffolds persuasive writing activities for children on the spectrum. Preliminary analysis of data from the project showed that independent use of the software led to improvements in written expression – as measured by NAPLAN marks (written text marked by experts) and word length – for all children in the study. The improvement over a handwriting baseline was remarkable for some (e.g., double the NAPLAN mark, three times the word count). Additionally, feedback from teachers indicates strong support for the software and observations of improved writing and greater motivation to write for those children involved in the study. Teachers also flagged the value of the software for other children who find writing tasks a challenge.

The objectives of this project are to:

  • further develop the software so that it is ready for commercial release
  • conduct an in-situ evaluation to assess the effectiveness of the application during classroom use with a broad range of children on the spectrum
  • develop effective teacher and parent resources that align with App activities
  • engage children on the spectrum and autistic adults in the process of improving the existing resource.
Project code
Project Leader(s)
  • Jill Ashburner, Autism Queensland
  • Peta Wyeth, Queensland University of Technology
Project status