Experts often say that children with autism are not less but different from other kids. What parents and people in general need to know is the basic understanding of such children.
Knowledge and awareness about the autism spectrum are essential in taking good care of the children and ensuring they have a better future. In the digital era, there is influx of unverified information about the spectrum. Parents and caregivers often struggle to find authentic and reliable sources of knowledge in dealing with a kid who is different.
With the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic and resultant lockdowns, the regular education of children with autism has been disrupted. Parents have largely been left to their own devices to take good care of their autistic kids and try to maintain as regular a schedule as is possible. In this situation they have no choice but surfing online for the information. ‘Learn Autism’ is a digital platform launched in the United States in April 2020. The mobile application has recently been launched in Qatar with Arabic subtitles.
'Learn Autism' is a unique online platform, meticulously developed with the primary aim to support parents, caregivers and educators of children on the autism spectrum and to serve as a trusted resource that is both accessible and affordable. From early diagnoses to a realistic outlook on what adulthood looks like for children with autism, this digital platform provides interactive short tutorial videos that take the viewers through an effective step-by-step approach to supporting the autistic children.
Interestingly, 'Learn Autism' is the brainchild of acclaimed author and academic, Dr Stephen Shore, who is on the autism spectrum himself, together with an exceptional team of therapy professionals and parents of children with autism.
Diagnosed with a typical development and strong autistic tendencies and too sick for outpatient treatment, Dr Shore was recommended for institutionalisation. He was non-verbal until age four, but with much support from his parents, teachers, wife, and others, he is now a professor at Adelphi University where his research focuses on matching the best practice to the needs of people with autism.
Dr Shore currently serves on the board of Autism Speaks, the largest autism advocacy organisation in the US, as one of the first two autistic board members in its history, where he is committed to improve the potential of those on the autism spectrum. He is internationally renowned for presentations, consultations and writings on lifespan issues pertinent to education, relationships, employment, advocacy, and disclosure.
After the successful launch of Learn Autism in the US, the unique online platform has been brought to Qatar and the MENA region. This research-based information in bite-sized videos will help support autistic individuals and their caregivers to make fulfilling and productive lives the rule rather than the exception. The platform offers short video tutorials which are now available with Arabic subtitles.
Maya Smith is a Doha-based British expatriate. She has a son with autism. Sharing her experience of using the digital platform, Maya said: “The last few months have been quite overwhelming after receiving my son’s autism diagnosis. During the lockdown it has been difficult to find resources but I was fortunate enough to come across 'Learn Autism' whilst researching online what to do and where to start.
“Learn Autism is an amazing resource that has helped me understand more about what autism is and the options available for me to help my son.”