The effects of iPad and visual representations in establishing positive transitions for individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)
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Individuals with ASD are frequently recognized for their unique differences in social communication skills, language, and behavior. Further difficulties in understanding, recalling, and using verbal information; often cause these individuals to fear the unknown while exhibiting a greater need for predictability. It is generally challenging for them to take in all of the information within a new situation, determine what the expectations are, and then generate appropriate responses. Consequently, transitions are often arduous for individuals with ASD and may result in increased anxiety and inappropriate or resistant behaviors. While it is not possible to provide a program and environment that is free from transitions and change, as these are elements inherent to our way of life, the goal is to help the student cope with changes and adapt to a variety of settings. In many situations, anxiety can be decreased and inappropriate behaviors prevented or reduced, if the individual is prepared for change and transition. This includes transitions between activities and settings throughout the day, transition from one grade to the next, transition from current school to another, and transition to adult life. Visual supports have been widely used to help individuals with ASD to maintain attention, understand spoken language, and sequence and organize their environments. When visual supports are implemented, individuals with ASD can view upcoming activities to gain a better understanding of the sequences involved in the activities. This provides overall predictability for the events; thereby, increasing the expectation for positive transition experiences. This study examined the effects of using an iPad Pictello social story to prepare students for next year campus transitions. Participants with ASD were recruited through parental and teacher referral from a local school system. An informal Parent/Teacher Information Survey was given to parents/teachers prior to the intervention procedures to ascertain familiarity with visual supports and student transitions in the school setting. A partial interval recording data collection system was implemented to document promptings needed during baseline and intervention phases. The effectiveness of the iPad visual support was assessed using single-subject A-B-A reversal design. Additional information was also gathered from parents/teachers to determine the social validity of the iPad visual technology intervention.