Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Video clips that help students with autism learn and feel calm at the same time!

One of the schools I serve as a school psychologist has a number of students with severe autism.  Over the past year or so, each classroom was outfitted with a new interactive white board (IWB). We've found that multimedia content displayed on these large screens is much more engaging than what is viewed on computers with much smaller displays.

The exciting news is that some of the students who have minimal interest in computers pay a great deal of attention to activities on the IWBs.  Students who have self-stimulatory or repetitive behaviors that interfere with their ability to engage in traditional activities don't seem to exhibit these patterns nearly as much when the focus is on the IWB.   In my opinion, IWBs are great tools for reaching and teaching young people who have autism spectrum disorders!

I'm in the process of creating a variety of short video clips that teachers can embed in learning activities that also provide a way for students to reduce their levels of anxiety, agitation, and/or repetitive behaviors.

The following videos are my first experiments, and are not as polished as I'd like.  They are best viewed on a large-screen display or IWB, set to high definition.  Although various students have viewed these videos a few times this week, they were a great hit. In some cases, we found it useful to loop the video, especially for students who require repetition of content.

The videos were shot using a small hand-held Panasonic HD camcorder, and quickly edited in iMovie. The music was either taken from the iMovie music library or created using riffs in Garage Band, an Apple iLife product.


Lily Pond and Music

In this video, I used a few subtitles to direct the viewer to points of interest, such as the little grasshopper hiding in the pink lily and a dragonfly, which appears near the end of the video.

Butterflies and Flowers Set to Music

I set this version to piano music for a student who listens to piano music as a coping strategy. I plan to create another version with other genres of music. This particular score was created with piano riffs from Garage Band.

Up Close at the Charleston Aquarium - with relaxing music

Even the most inattentive students paid maximum to this video when it was looped!  I think they liked the variety of sea life, especially the turtles.  Tip:  If you plan to capture video at an aquarium, plan to visit at a time where there are few visitors!

I can't wait to take my video camera to the Atlanta aquarium.

Minnows and Music

The minnows swimming around in the murky green tank are a little boring, but things get slightly more exciting when the bait-shop owner feeds them. The music makes up for what the video lacks. The students didn't mind at all.

Jellyfish at the Discovery Place Aquarium, Charlotte, NC - with music

I'd like to visit Discovery Place at a less-crowded time and re-capture the jellyfish in action from a better vantage point.


Dr. Gaston Weisz said...

Nice videos. How did you get the music as I sometimes also develop multimedia projects in my school.


Lynn Marentette said...

I used the Garage Band application that came with my MacBook for some of the music. Some of the music, such as the one from the video taken at the Charleston Aquarium, was from the iMovie application, which I used for editing the videos.

In GarageBand, in the Loops section, you can select musical riffs of various lengths according to genre, mood, instruments, key,and so forth. You can plop them into the tracks, and somehow they seem to fit nicely- be sure to use some structure - ABABC, etc.

I recently discovered that William Orbit, a composer of electronic "chill" music, has some downloadable tracks/riffs from his website- they can be found in his "audio" section: http://williamorbit.com/blog/index.php?cat=8

He also has downloadable "orbitmixers" for some of his tunes, which are fun to play with.