Autism: digital programs

600,000 people are affected by autism in France. At the Orange Foundation, we have been committed to helping these people and their families since 1991. Beyond supporting research, establishments and associations, we strive to stimulate innovation to continue to make the everyday lives of people with autism easier. Therefore, since 2012, we started promoting the use of digital technologies among people with autism.

 

 

Innovative tools for progress

Digital tools have been appearing over the last few years and different experiments have proved that these intuitive tools have clear benefits as they use a wide variety of applications that can help with communication, learning, social skills...

This phenomenon has greatly increased with the appearance of easy-to-use tablets. Since 2013, we have helped professionals and families to use these tools and we now are introducing a digital program focussed on three main actions: informing, equipping and guiding.

In 2016 we funded TSARA, the first online game to learn how to support people with autism and adopt best practices and the right responses. Tsara is free and available in French and English in the Android and Apple stores.

Our mission is also to improve access to equipment and new technologies.

Informing by all means available

To assist carers and families to find the best adapted tool, at the start of 2014 we launched the Applications-Autisme (Autism applications) collaborative platform. This site houses a large number of applications, sorted by learning areas, with reviews from users, professionals and parents alike.

As these tools constitute vital support for research, in 2014, we organised the 2nd international conference (9 countries present) on Innovative Technologies for Autism Spectrum Disorders (ITASD). This conference was attended by scientists, cares, professionals, associations and families. It was a unique opportunity to discover and share what these new digital technologies can do to help us understand autism and improve the daily lives of the families.
Videos of the conferences are available at www.itasd.org.

Equipping establishments

Our mission is also to improve access to equipment. Since 2013, we have launched 3 calls for projects to provide autistic people with digital equipment. To date, 160 establishments have been equipped and more than 2,000 tablets or interactive whiteboards have been financed. The results are surprising and professionals tell us they have "discovered capabilities in their residents they were unaware of".
The projects we support must be planned beforehand, integrated into the establishment’s project promoting learning and can also be a way of opening up to the outside world. In Guyana, for example, one establishment offered to loan a tablet to each child so that they could take photos of their day and share them with their family in the evening.

Guiding professionals and parents

In parallel, to help professionals and parents get to grips with this tool, we have made associations with employees offering skills sponsorship available to guide them in their digitisation.

Digital technology is also a powerful tool for sharing knowledge. We are working on new on-line training projects for caregivers and professionals.