Three Ways to Empower Neurodiverse Learners Through Technology

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By Sasha Shtern, CEO, Goally

If you’ve ever felt overwhelmed by the amount of people and strategies it takes to empower your neurodiverse learner, you are not alone. But what about the amount of technology?

Technology can and should be used to help providers and families be efficient and effective, not hinder their productivity. So why are many people (especially health care providers) throwing up their hands in frustration as new technology gets thrown their way? 

I have found that for providers, the standardization of data collection and technology implementation is, yes, important. The data helps ABA providers, speech language pathologists, and many more know that their strategies are working. But it is also time-consuming and restricts their ability to customize medical strategies. 

These problems led me to ask: is there a way to make technology effective and efficient? And can there still be room for customization in medicine?

Through my work with Goally, I have been determined to run after the good in technology’s potential and leave the bad. The opportunity to further empower the neurodiverse community through technology is simply too important to leave by the wayside. Along the way, I discovered three ground-breaking ways to make technology a tool of true empowerment for neurodiverse learners.

  1. Put the technology in the kids’ hands.

 Giving a neurodiverse child a personal device is a game changer. Kids crave to be included in our world’s ever-growing access to technology. We do this at Goally, for example, by giving kids their own personal “cell phone” without any of the disruptive distractions (like web browsers, calling, and texting features). Instead, it contains their daily visual schedules, a token board, and behavior tracker, among other things. This builds a sense of independence and confidence. 

Many neurodiverse kids with autism and ADHD are also visual learners. To be able to hold something in their own hands that is technology-driven provides excitement and clarity like never before.

  1. Start using consistent visual schedule apps.

Visual schedules are highly effective in building independence, reducing anxiety, and teaching literacy. Yet, the hassle of printing off different schedules for different days and locations can be extremely frustrating for both the parents and the kid. Instead, giving kids an app on a device provides a consistent process for all activities of daily living (ADLs). It is also easier on every caretaker involved, so quit wasting paper!

  1. Record individualized data to help customize interventions.

By definition, neurodiverse learners take in information differently. Their responses to strategies are bound to be unique. Technology can be used to see exactly what helps each child improve. Strategies can be customized and processes improved. Even better, health care providers and caretakers alike can scale those strategies from one-to-one to one-to-many as patterns emerge.

Using technology to the benefit of neurodiverse learners should not have to be restrictive and time-consuming. In fact, I stand on the ground that technology is exactly what we need to empower healthcare providers to implement useful strategies. More importantly, it will provide neurodiverse learners with a means to tackle independent living like never before. All it takes is our willingness to use it effectively.

About the Author

Sasha Stern, CEO, Goally

Sasha Shtern is CEO of Goally, a company dedicated to making software for special needs kids. Goally’s tools help parents implement at home the strategies professionals use in clinics and schools. 

A successful serial entrepreneur, angel investor, co-organizer of Ethereum Denver, and co-founder of Rocky Mountain Blockchain, Shtern advocates for other serial entrepreneurs to move into social enterprises. In 2015 he co-founded Impact Makers Table, a nonprofit dedicated to channeling data-driven philanthropy. He is passionate about education policy and healthy eating for kids. Education University of Colorado, Denver and Harvard Business School. https://getgoally.com/

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