ENABLE- ASC: Enabling Collaboration in the ASC Classroom with Young Children and Touchscreen Devices

Chrysoula Mangafa

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingPublished conference contribution


Young children with autism have many talents and special interests among which can be their affinity with digital technologies (Porayska-Pomsta et al. 2012). Despite the increasing use of mobile tablets in schools, and the motivation of the children to use them, there is limited guidance and research on how teachers use touchscreen technologies in the classroom to support children with autism develop specific skills, such as social communication (Kagohara et al. 2013). Specifically, the literature about the impact of teacher training on developing social communication skills in class is scarce (Mangafa et al. 2016). This study explored the effectiveness of iPad teacher training on improving teachers’ practice and interactive style and the child’s behaviour and engagement in joint interactions. An action research methodology was followed at a primary special school in England, UK. Video recordings and semi structured interviews were used to collect data. Video recordings of four children with autism aged 10-11 were conducted as they interacted with iPads over a period of five weeks.Interviews with teachers were carried out to explore their experiences of teaching autistic children and using new technologies in their teaching. Teachers also participated in a training workshop to share experiences and learn about new ways of using touchscreen technologies in class. Children were more actively engaged in joint interactions when using iPads with their teachers than without the use of technology. During the training workshop, teachers mentioned that discussions about iPad use and autism strategies grew their confidence and helped them reflect on their practice. Following the workshop, teachers were found to adjust their communicative style (e.g. by allowing time for the child to respond), make changes to the environment (e.g. by minimising distractions) and use resources (e.g. by using symbols/pictures) to engage with young children while using the iPad. Teacher training on iPad use and autism specific teaching strategies is an effective approach that can improve teachers’ confidence in using mobile devices in the classroom in more collaborative and engaging ways. Future studies should incorporate the active involvement of school staff and investigate their personal experiences in developing social communication skills in autistic children for the use of touchscreen technologies in real world settings.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEducation and New Developments 2019 Volume 1
EditorsMafalda Carmo
Place of PublicationLisbon, Portugal
PublisherInScience Press
Number of pages5
ISBN (Electronic)978-989-54312-5-0
Publication statusPublished - 24 Jun 2019
EventInternational Conference on Education and New Developments 2019 - Porto, Portugal
Duration: 22 Jun 201924 Jun 2019

Publication series

NameEducation and New Developments
PublisherInScience Press
ISSN (Print)2184-044X
ISSN (Electronic)2184-1489


ConferenceInternational Conference on Education and New Developments 2019
Abbreviated titleEND2019
Internet address


  • Teacher training
  • autism spectrum condition
  • technology in teaching and learning
  • social communication skills


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