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 and helping by any means available

On 2 April 2019, the first free, national online information and support programme was launched in France to help and guide people with autism, their family and friends, and medical and social work professionals. By telephone (0800 71 40 40) and online (www.autismeinfoservice.fr), Autisme Info Service responds to any of these people who are facing serious difficulties today. We support autismeinfoservice.fr which exploits the full potential of digital technology to provide answers to everyone and help 650,000 people with autism (1) find their place in our society. The Autisme Info Service experts answer key questions concerning diagnosis, administrative procedures, education, training and professional integration... all the key stages in life.
For the first time, all the information and guidance is in one place.

 

 

To help carers and families find the most suitable tool, in 2014, we launched the collaborative platform Applications-Autisme. This website provides a large number of applications, sorted by learning areas, with reviews from users, professionals and parents alike. The same year, we organised the 2nd international conference (9 countries present) on innovative technologies for autism spectrum disorders (ITASD). 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.

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.

(1) Source Pasteur Institute 2018.