Overcoming difficulties in written expression
The objective in the first phase of this project was to develop guidelines or collate existing guidelines on assessment and training of students.
The second phase of the project evaluated the use of assistive technologies and self-regulated strategy instruction in overcoming difficulties with written expression of autistic students.
The project developed digital resources to investigate research aims focussed on improving the quality and length of written expression of children on the autism spectrum. The research team 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.
To extend this research Autism CRC commissioned a utilisation project, Assistive writing - StepWrite. The project delivered the co-designed iPad app, StepWrite. It was released in 2021 to help children improve their writing, addressing many of the challenges associated with fine motor and perceptual skills required for handwriting.
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- Jill Ashburner, Autism Queensland Limited