Case Studies

Preparation for Employment and Independent Living

Introduction

A young man with Autism attends a local special school. He is part of a small group of students working on his preparation for employment and independent living.

Participation

The student had never participated in such a project and showed little interest to begin with. Whilst a demonstration of the games took place, this young man became more interested and contributed to the discussion taking place. Along with his peers he took notes on paper. When it was suggested that we needed someone to work/test some of the games he became very enthusiastic and put himself forward.

Achievement

This student proceeded to astonish his teacher by a) concentrating on testing the games and b) producing a piece of written work. Normally the student really struggled with both of these elements. The student also commented on the games, the teacher saying that he was usually quite reticent to do this. This achievement has been important for this young man and has helped him to work with his peers.

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Preparation for a more independent lifestyle

Introduction

A young female student attends a weekly Life Skills class. She is Deaf and communicates using British Sign Language. She has been testing the games with 5 other Life Skills students in preparation of a more independent lifestyle.

Participation

The student had never participated in this kind of project before and was noticeably anxious on the first session. She was unsure as to what she should expect from the games, but felt pleased to have been asked to participate in the piloting phase. Though initially hesitant with using computers, once the games were demonstrated, the student became more interested and wanted to try them herself. Her knowledge of the subject area was previously quite limited and her skills were considered pre-entry level. The Life skills group generally uses paper-based resources, all of which aim to improve literacy and understanding of key concepts. As a result, the student found the use of a computer as a teaching tool to be a novel and exciting experience.

Achievements

The student’s confidence with using computers improved significantly within the first two sessions of piloting. She had expected the games to require a good understanding of the English Language, but found that she could understand the majority because they were so visual. This is a crucial element for most Deaf and hard of hearing users and really helped in building the student’s confidence. The student continued to progress and amaze both trainers and carers alike with her determination to become more competent with money skills. She questioned aspects of the games and frequently asked for a more in depth explanation if she did not understand.

The student’s involvement in the piloting phase has been exceedingly beneficial for her understanding of the subject area. The fact that we have been able to use these applications in conjunction with regular life skills teaching techniques has meant that students have been able to practice their skills in the virtual world, effectively preparing them for the real world equivalent. Since beginning the piloting phase we have had some encouraging feedback from the student’s carer, detailing her enthusiasm to practice her skills at home by adding and subtracting coins and practicing personal care routines. Although the student has always been socially confident, we have seen an improvement in the confidence she has in her own skills. She now freely offers her opinion in class and is much less self-conscious in doing so.

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Introduction

 

Deaf male student who has autism and learning disabilities.  He is twenty-six years old and communicates using British Sign Language.  He is good natured and attends a weekly Life Skills class.

Participation

 

The student possesses pre-entry level life skills similar to that of other students on the Life Skills course. He was pleased to be involved in the piloting of the games and had never participated in this kind of project before. On the first session, the student was confident when using computers; He is very passionate about visually-informative games that do not require an understanding of the English Language. The student frequently plays on his PlayStation 3 at home and as a result, he remained engaged throughout the testing period. He has a basic level of comprehension and responded well to computer-based resources.

Achievements and Problems

 

The student’s confidence in playing each game grew significantly within the first two sessions of piloting. As his understanding of the games improved, so did his game play. The student was very motivated and had a positive attitude towards the games, asking if he could continue to play after the sessions had ended. From his initial participation in the course to present, the student’s confidence has not only improved with reference to his ability to engage in computer games, but also with regards to his interaction with fellow students. This has been a significant change, especially considering the limited sign language skills he possesses.

In some of the games, the student took a little longer to fully understand what it was that the game required him to do. However, through a method of trial and error, he was able to resolve the issue himself, rarely asking for support from trainers. The course has enabled the student to learn things one step at a time and persevere to overcome any difficulties.

His areas for improvement are in relation to time management and calculating money. He has a tendency to intermittently respond to signed questions, often physically reaching for an object to show he has understood an instruction. His general communication would benefit from learning a wider vocabulary, adopting a BSL or SSE structure or perhaps using pictures and objects to aid communication.

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Introduction

 

A young, Deaf female participates in weekly Life Skills lessons. She is autistic and has very poor communication skills, using limited BSL if and when possible. Though generally good natured, her problems with communication often result in frustration, meaning she can sometimes appear temperamental.

Participation

Like other students in the Life Skills course, this student has pre-entry level skills, and her difficulty with communication means that most teaching resources are adapted to meet her specific needs. She was happy to participate in the testing of the games but due to lack of experience using computers, she was hesitant to complete testing without the support of trainers. As the student had never completed piloting such as this before, she did not know what to expect from the testing process. The student is unable to read and subsequently relies on visually-informative material as an aid to learning. She appeared to enjoy this aspect of the games, as many of them did not require an understanding of the English Language.

Achievements

The student’s confidence with using computers improved throughout the testing sessions, though she still required assistance in translating written English into BSL. Due to her low level of communication skills, it was difficult to establish whether she understood what she was doing: the student responded positively to all games and remained engaged despite occasionally appearing confused. Her body language changed significantly when she found a game difficult; the student struggled with games that required an understanding of key concepts such as money management and employment, but she still appeared to enjoy the pictures and using the computer.  Her performance improved with games such as ‘Cheese Factory’, in which she was able to use visual cues such as the shape and size of an object, rather than cognitive information such as percentages or fractions. The student impressed trainers with her determination to reach a higher level in this game, and she was evidently pleased with herself when she did so.

The student’s participation in the games piloting has been beneficial to her progression in the Life Skills class. Though she inevitably experienced additional difficulty because of communication issues, the student benefited from experiencing challenging virtual situations and was clearly proud of herself for overcoming them.