Source: Yale ITS Monday Morning News
CLC Donates iPads to YCBA Program for Autistic Children
The Yale Center for British Art’s Exploring Artism program will use the iPads to help children respond to the museum’s artworks.
(Submitted by Matthew Regan, Senior Academic Technologist)
The Collaborative Learning Center is pleased to announce that it has donated a dozen iPad 2s to the Yale Center for British Art (YCBA) for its Exploring Artism family program. This free program, run by the YCBA Education Department every third Saturday in September, October, and November from 10:30 a.m. to noon, focuses on families with autistic children between the ages of 5 – 12.
With these events, the YCBA aims to “create a welcoming, engaging, and inclusive learning environment.” Participants in the program learn to look and respond to artwork in the museum’s galleries with a follow-up art project in a museum classroom. Looking for new approaches to supplement these activities, the program explored iPad usage during a session and observed positive reactions from the children.
With the belief that providing iPads to child participants would further enhance the program, Curator of Education Linda Friedlaender approached the CLC about using an iPad class set for the fall 2014 series. Though the request fell outside of the CLC iPad program scope, the committee decided unanimously to donate 12 iPad 2s, slated to be retired from the Bass Media Checkout Service.
Trip Kirkpatrick, CLC lead organizer, said, “This is exactly the kind of project the CLC is positioned to support. In our seven years of activity, we’ve always excelled at finding gaps in support services and seeing how we could help narrow them. In particular, it’s wonderful to have the opportunity to connect Yale’s resources and New Haven’s needs.”
Jaime Ursic, YCBA Assistant Curator of Education, answered a few questions on the Exploring Artism family program and what it hopes to accomplish by using the iPads.
When and Why was the program created?
Recognizing the importance of providing learning opportunities for families with children on the autism spectrum, the Yale Center for British Art (YCBA) developed and began teachingExploring Artism: A Program for Families in April 2012. The free, registration-required, 90-minute program includes a gallery-based multisensory learning experience, followed by a related hands-on art project for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder and their families. Autism is a developmental disability that diminishes a child’s ability to engage in reciprocal social interactions typical of the child’s age and stage of development, and generally lasts a lifetime. The symptoms and characteristics appear in varied ways and art has been found as a way to aid expression. Autism affects 1 in 68 children in the US and it is the fastest growing developmental disability in the U.S.
Self-expression and communication are intrinsic to art and are often a struggle for someone with ASD. Looking at original art objects followed by actual art-making improves the cognitive and motor skills of participants. Since many with ASD see the world as a series of “pictures,” visual art allows for easier self-expression and communication. Through student-centered, multisensory experiences that include art-viewing and art-making, the YCBA has created a welcoming public program in a neurotypical social space for families with a child with ASD. (Many families often feel isolated since the majority of Autism funding goes towards research rather than support programs.)
How did the ideas of using iPads come about?
The YCBA uses low-tech assistive and augmentative communication (AAC) strategies such as printed directions, social stories outlining the day’s plan and yes/no cards for participants who struggle with communication. Keeping abreast of Autism research and studies published by the International Center for Autism Research and Education and theAutism Spectrum Disorder Foundation, we appropriated the education department’s one iPad for the Exploring Artism program.
The success and attraction of the iPad was instant for participants since the iPad was portable and acted as a digital and multimedia parallel to books/papers/maps/computer in the galleries. With iPads being customizable, apps are downloaded and organized for specific needs. For example, we looked at a painting with a flute, violin, and a harpsichord. Using the iPad, we were able to play the sounds of each instrument to the group while looking at the painting. There is an abundance of digital art making and special needs/adaptive apps that can be utilized in the galleries that break down involved learning into pieces that can be organized and taught easily to the individual.
Have you used the iPads yet?
Before this donation, we used only one iPad in the past. Realizing the difference that one iPad made with 12 participants with ASD, we began a search for funding to supply 12–14 iPads for the Exploring Artism program. This fall, the stars aligned and the Bass Library iPad Borrower program came to the rescue with 12 donated iPads. Now, Exploring Artism participants each can use an iPad and we have already begun to adapt our teaching in order to more fully utilize the apps and iPads for participants.
For our October 18 Exploring Artism session, each participant used an iPad. We began with Real Chalkboard, an app that takes the place of paper and pencil for drawing activities. We downloaded our social story into iBook and the kids swiped each page while reading it together. The swiping was much easier for those with fine motor control challenges than physically turning a paper page. The session’s theme was headwear and crowns on the sculptures in the Sculpture Victorious exhibition at the Yale Center for British Art. We used the Hats & Caps app on our iPads to get a chance to “try on” some crowns. Both participants and parents enjoyed learning from and using the iPads.
Do you want to expand iPads to other YCBA education programs?
Yes! We have trained a few docents already to use our one department iPad and some use their own iPads to supplement their lessons in the galleries. From zooming in to London addresses via Google Earth to seeing photographs of Fingal’s Cave on Staffa while listening to Mendelsohn’s “Fingal’s Cave” overture, the iPads create a multimedia dimension to our gallery teaching. The iPad set will allow an entire group access to the app, the web, and whatever creative experience our lesson opens up to … working both together and independently. Also, the Yale Child Study Center is working on methods of data collection where iPads can help us collect necessary data in a timely manner.