Monday, September 25, 2017

Media Lab is a production company specialising in working with people with Special Needs

Media Lab

We have been in operation for the last two years. In that time, we have met many different people with Special Needs who have brightened up our lives and made us smile.

We have worked with different groups around the country, in Duleek Co. Louth, Bray Co. Wicklow, Tullow Co. Carlow and Ballymun Dublin 11.

All are very different groups with different levels of needs, but the one thing that all the groups have in common is the need to be included in all aspects of society, and using media can be one way of fulfilling that need.

The objective of Media Lab classes is to increase confidence and self-esteem while learning a technical skill and having fun while doing this and we usually achieve this on every level.

Quote from one of our groups – The Hub, Duleek, Co. Louth.

Our members in The Hub Training Unit really enjoyed taking part in the Media Lab sessions.

It was a great way for them to learn new skills such as photography, interview techniques and filming. They all found it to be great fun and they were able to express themselves in a different way.

They all thoroughly enjoyed the Media Lab presentation when the group had finished and enjoyed their families seeing all the good work they had taken part in.

We will definitely take part in another Media Lab group in the future!”

Quote from Eileen, who runs the Cairde Group in Tullow, Co. Carlow:

“Media Lab promote Advocacy within our group – if you asked our group to go to an advocacy meeting, they would refuse, but Media Lab do it naturally and the group don’t even realise it”.

Classes are €15 per person per class or €80 for six weeks

Find us on



and YouTube

Author Bio

Contact Catherine at 089 4985017 for more details.

social network icons

The communications landscape has changed, and continues to evolve, sometimes at breathtaking pace.  No sooner had email arrived than it became the standard written medium for business. Personal email followed swiftly, and the handwritten letter is now an artform.  We expect letters to arrive instantly as opposed to over the period of up to a week.

The marvel of the carphone was quickly overtaken by mobile phones for all.  GSM messaging revolutionised our interaction and social planning.  Social networking began to great suspicion, on PCs.  Only the young did it, and the older ones wondered what they were at in there (they still do). Laptops meant you could take it anywhere.

With the proliferation of the smartphone came the crucial crossover of email by phone.  Now you were freed from the desk when you needed to be.  The very cool among us had Blackberry.  For everyone else, the iPhone and Android appeared, and quickly became the platforms of choice.

The effect on paper publications has been seismic – newspapers have had to take some unsavoury medicine, but we are seeing their online response now, and the signs are encouraging for the industry of the written word.  Even your quarterly edition of Frontline has taken to the online world! And the changes for us and our readership are already visible.

The key innovation for social networking was the phone camera. Facebook, particularly for phone, could now put a face to the name of every keyboard jockey on the planet, Twitter allowed the very brave to give vent to whatever thought hit you in that moment, and our celebrities were on it within an ad-break.  We followed dutifully, the phone became almost a part of our hand, and the social networks were suddenly front-and-centre of everything we do.

People with intellectual disabilities are making their own use of this electronic revolution.  Now friends, family, service staff – all of our important people are within reach.  Self-expression is everywhere, and it has opened up a world of excitement and inclusion previously available only to a smaller section of society.  In her latest Frontline column, Mei Lin Yap embraces social networking, and details her favourites, giving us the basics of how to make the best of them.

Not everyone with an intellectual disability has taken up the new opportunities on offer from social networks, however.  As with everyone else, some fear it, some are merely suspicious – Adrian Noonan, in his first contribution to Frontline, details its advantages for self-advocacy groups, while he sounds a timely warning to help new users to navigate the uncharted waters of the social networks.  Also, Deirdre Spain shows how she can get the best out of her online experience on the move.

Elsewhere in this issue, Clare Hudson takes a critical look at devices and applications that can assist and develop technology skills for people with disabilities;  Kate Butler of the excellent Thundercut Alley highlights the problems of systemic discrimination for people with disabilities;  Sara Porzio questions the existence of equality in health and education services for her daughter;  Fiona Murphy raise the difficulties with consideration of people with disabilities in the courts, and Shane Kilcommins of UL examines access to justice for crime victims with disabilities.

Regardless of your experience, the impact of social networks is to be seen everywhere, and its potential for change in so many lives, at every end of society, is undeniable.

Author Bio

Copy editor JeromeJerome Corby has worked in Information Technology for 25 years, in the public and private sectors. He is currently copy-editor with Frontline Ireland magazine.

Adrian Noonan discusses Social Media, with a little good advice for all potential users…

Adrain Noonan
Adrian Noonan discusses how social media has changed his life.
Services use social media pages to keep their members informed of what they’re up to.
There is a bad side to social media and you must stay safe and never give your personal details like phone number out to people online.

twitter logoSocial media for people with intellectual disabilities is good & bad.  It keeps people with intellectual disabilities in touch with friends on Facebook and Twitter, and keeps people with intellectual disabilities up with news that concerns them – it gives them news on their sports teams they follow.

A lot of people with intellectual disabilities are very up with and aware of social media.  They help their friends on how to work social media pages, post pictures of themselves on what they love to do, and chat to friends online and family who live somewhere else in your town or another part of Ireland, or in a different country.  They make new friends online, or just keep up with the news.

If they are members of self-advocacy groups or clubs, and if these groups have social media pages, they would be on Facebook & Twitter mostly.

Disability self-advocacy groups like the National Platform of Self-Advocates and Seasamh would use their social media pages to keep their members informed of what they’re up to and issues affecting them.

2 - Adrian Noonan - Social Media - screen pic 1

There is a bad side to social media as well – people pretending to be some else, and online bullying. When you are online you have to be safe.

If you don’t know the person who is trying to make you a friend, don’t accept them unless you know them.  If they keep asking you to make them a friend, report and block them – the same with bullies, report and block them.

Don’t give your phone number out also, unless you’re really sure.  If you’re unsure who they are, your support workers or your family will help you – don’t be afraid to ask.

All in all, social media has opened up the world to people with intellectual disabilities.

Author Bio

Adrian Noonan is PRO of  The National Platform of Self-Advocates, the self-advocacy committee of Inclusion Ireland, and Seasamh, the Kilkenny-based self-advocacy group.

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Mei Lin’s latest column looks at the most popular social networks and how to make the best of them.

Mei-Lin discusses social media from Youtube to Facebook and more. She advises us to enjoy it and stay safe while online. This is her 3rd article for Frontline.

The social media sites that I use are YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Google Plus.

Favourite Site: YouTube

I love the hype on YouTube as there is a huge variety of videos to watch and/or listen to.  This is my way of connecting with other people around the world.  It is free to join up and is easy to create a free account.  I find using YouTube is fun.  I watch videos that interest me.  I get to share what I am watching with others on other social media sites.  I like to share my opinion on what I am watching and listening to on YouTube.  I like to link videos to Twitter.  There is always something on YouTube for everyone to enjoy.

I spend a lot of time on YouTube.  I log on during the day when I am at home and I sometimes like to stay up late at night.  I feel excited to connect with others and the things that interest me.  It makes me feel good about myself-  I sometimes get carried away and time just slips by, but I very much enjoy being on social media.

If you don’t understand how to join up, just follow the images below and hopefully you will understand how it is done.

As you can see here, all you have to do is just type “YouTube” into the “Google” search engine;  just press the enter key, and the link will pop up (Screen A below).  Screen B shows the “HomePage” to YouTube.  On the homepage, click “Sign In” on the upper right corner of YouTube.  When you sign in, you have the option to add an account.  When you click into it, the third image (Screen C) will pop up, and just follow the instructions.

Screen A                                                                                       Screen B



Screen C


Favourite Site:  Twitter

When I came upon Twitter, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to sign up.  I thought why not sign up and see what the fuss is about.  When I did sign up, I was confused about how Twitter works and I didn’t really understand the lingo of the Twitter world.  When I did enter the Twitter world, I knew that I would love the interaction and building friendships with the people that I was interacting with.  I have an interest in what other people do, in people’s lives, and I like to know what other people’s interests are.  This just came naturally to me.  I got to understand what Twitter was about and how everything works on the site.  From entering the Twitter world I knew that I would love the hype of it, and spend a lot of time on it.  At first I was following everyone on Twitter, but later on decided that it was probably not a good idea to follow everyone.  I decided that I was doing it all wrong by following celebrities and others.

I thought; why not get them to follow me instead.  So I un-followed everyone and then went onto YouTube to start posting things to Twitter.  I love the buzz that I get from watching/listening to YouTube videos, and the hype that I get from posting the stuff to Twitter.  I hoped that people out there would like what I put up.  I was excited at the prospect of people “favouriting” and “re-tweeting” and commenting on the things that I put up.  I posted things up from YouTube to Twitter.  Twitter and YouTube have a huge variety of things that interest me.  I also liked the idea that many people around the world are on Twitter and I could connect with them.  Sometimes people with intellectual disabilities can feel isolated and social media is a great way to feel connected and engaged.

Screenshot Screenshot

If you are not already on social media and would like to get started, just follow the instructions by looking at the images below.  This should help you sign up and create an account.  Firstly I would go into Google search engine and type in the word “Twitter” and press “Enter” on the key pad.  You can either click on the word “Twitter” or you can just follow this link here, and it will appear.  You just enter your details; make sure you have an email address also, as you will need that to sign up.  Once you have registered and signed in, you will be brought to your own home page.  Here is an example of mine so that you know what it looks like.

You just click on icons to “follow” a person who interests you.  This will display all their “tweets” on your screen.  You may also go into their “Profile” and take a look.  Have fun!

The following image is my profile.  If you like you can follow me – this is what my profile looks like.


Screen A                                                                                  Screen B



If you follow these images, Screen A is Twitter on which you can find information regarding safety procedures.  On Screen B is Facebook’s Help Centre; this is where you will find information about safety, and managing your account.  Here is the link to the Help Centre on Facebook:


If you want to engage with social media, it is very important to keep yourself safe.  When you have created your account, there is an image on the top right hand corner with a drop down menu.  If you go into “Settings” it will give you lots of information on how to keep safe.  It is very important to remember not to publicly post your phone number, your address or any other personal information on Twitter or Facebook.

Screenshot Screenshot

Facebook is a social networking site where you can interact, build friendships, and stay connected with people that you may know.  I love to interact with people that I know, and I like knowing what other people do, and knowing what other people’s interests are.  Being on Facebook helps me stay connected with friends / family / relatives that don’t live nearby. It is also nice to reconnect with people that you may know from the past. Facebook also helps me to stay connected to my interests, and it is a way of chatting with friends.  I created my account back in 2002 – it is easy to create an account, just follow the instructions.

Be Safe, Have Fun, Stay Connected!!

Author Bio

Mei Lin Yap lives in Dublin. She works as a Reception Greeting Co-ordinator, and writes regularly for Frontline Ireland.

She was formerly Rollout Support Officer/Ambassador for the Certificate in Contemporary Living at The National Institute for Intellectual Disability, Trinity College Dublin. 

Her passions include Special Olympics and inclusion for everyone.

A Masterclass in Networking

  • Masterclass for staff working in Intellectual Disability
  • The importance of networking
  • Introduction to the recently published Code of Professional Conduct and Ethics
  • Developments of the new Standards and Requirements for Nurse Registration Education Programmes

The Nursing Network of Intellectual Disability (NNIDI) held a Masterclass on the 7th November 2014 in the School of Nursing & Midwifery, Trinity College Dublin.  This was the third national event hosted by NNIDI.  The overarching aim of this group is to promote and support networking among nurses working in the area of intellectual disability in Ireland.  It is hoped that this will advance best practice in the care and provision of services to people with intellectual disabilities.  The membership of NNIDI is open to all nurses working in intellectual disability services in Ireland.  The masterclass was Category 1 approved by NMBI, and attendance was free to those working in the Intellectual Disability field.

nursing logo

The opening address was delivered by Ms. Therese Danaher who was the outgoing Chairperson of NNIDI.  Mr. Paul Keenan, incoming Joint Chairperson gave a presentation on the aims of NNIDI and their plans for the future.  This first session was facilitated by Dr. Ruth Northway, a Professor of Learning Disability Nursing in the University of South Wales; she delivered a very engaging presentation entitled Making Connections to Enhance Professional Practice.  Dr. Northway teaches on a range of undergraduate and post graduate courses – she has research interests in the health needs of people with learning disabilities and in safeguarding people from abuse.  Dr. Northway actively involved the audience in group activity and discussion on how to develop services and strengthen networking amongst nurses.  The aim of this session was to support and empower nurses working in the area of intellectual disability nursing to develop effective network strategies.


The second session was facilitated by Ms. Kathleen Walsh, Professional Officer of Standards of Practice and Guidance for the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland (NMBI).  Ms. Walsh’s responsibilities in this role include giving support/advice on professional practice, coordination of the Ethics Committee activities, and development of professional guidance.  In addition, Ms. Walsh is project-managing the dissemination of the new code of professional conduct and ethics, and the revision of the scope of nursing and midwifery practice framework.  Ms. Walsh gave the first insightful presentation on the New Code of Professional Conduct and Ethics for Registered Nurses and Registered Midwives.  This was of particular interest to nurses in the audience, as it enables them to have a first-hand operational knowledge of the code of professional conduct and ethics.

The third session was facilitated by Dr. John Sweeney, an independent consultant who is currently undertaking a project with the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland to develop new Standards and Requirements for Nurse Registration Education Programmes (2015).  Dr. Sweeney’s area of expertise includes dual diagnosis of mental health problems among people with an intellectual disability, nursing historiography, visual thinking strategies, curriculum design and evaluation, and inter-professional teaching and learning.  This presentation provided insight into the progress of the BSc. Nursing Curriculum Review, and raised awareness of the revision of the requirements and standards of the undergraduate nurse education programme in Ireland.  The presentation evoked discussions in relation to the potential changes, and the impacts this would have in the area of intellectual disability.  The closing remarks were delivered by Dr. Owen Doody, who is incoming Joint Chair person of NNIDI.

This masterclass provided a forum for consistent and timely communication of relevant information pertaining to nurses working in the area of intellectual disability.  The undergraduate student nurse education programme is constantly evolving, as are policies and procedures relating to students.  The masterclass provided a forum to share this information in a timely and efficient manner.  Preceptors are entrusted with clinical supervision, guidance, teaching and competency assessment of undergraduate student nurses.  Therefore, it is essential that they are aware of the code of professional conduct and ethics, and how this impacts in practice, in the area of intellectual disability.  This masterclass was also beneficial for clinical/practice nurses, as it acknowledged the important role of the nurse in clinical practice and education, and the importance of networking within the profession.

The feedback from participants was that the masterclass was very beneficial; it provided a forum for networking with staff from other organisations, it enhanced knowledge in relation to the New Code of Professional Conduct and Ethics for Registered Nurses and Registered Midwives, and the implication this will have in and on practice.  Participants also highlighted how beneficial it is to gain insight into the developments in the undergraduate curriculum and standards for practice placements.

Should you wish to view the presentations from the day or join the mailing group of NNIDI please go to

Author Bio

Karina O Sullivan is a committee member of NNIDI, and she currently works as a clinical placement co-ordinator within the Daughters of Charity Disability Support service in Dublin.

Catherine Timoney is a committee member of NNIDI – she has worked as a nurse in the Intellectual Disability field for over 30 years.

Clare Hudson examines a number of devices and applications designed to assist and develop technology skills for people with disabilities.

Clare Hudson examines a number of devices and applications designed to assist and develop technology skills for people with disabilities.

For many people, devices such as iPods and iPads have become an extension of their arm.  They give us so much at the touch of a screen.  They keep us up-to-date on the everyday movements and special events of those who may not be in close proximity (or, in some cases, may be!), and on news from around the world.  They provide all sorts of on-the-spot entertainment from music to DVD, games to virtual worlds.  And no matter what the issue or problem someone always knows of ‘an app for that!’  This development in the technological world has brought with it fantastic opportunities, particularly in the area of support and development of communication skills.

There are so many options that it’s hard not to feel like the proverbial ‘kid in a candy store’ when we browse our ‘local’ app store (without even having to leave the house!)  But the sheer volume of options can quickly become overwhelming and it can often be daunting to know where to start; how to know what you or your child would benefit most from, what type of devices and apps would be appropriate and how to begin using the app.  This article aims to point you in a helpful direction with these decisions and dilemmas, discusses how technology can be used for social connection, and finishes with an example of how technology in the form of Skype has been used in an innovative way to connect and provide support for teenagers who stammer.

Techie Words: What the words mean

Advances in technology have brought us a new vocabulary.  I for one am guilty of using ‘techie words’ without really understanding what I’m saying, always to be caught out in the mobile phone shop when I realise I am unable to fully participate in the conversation I have started.  So, I am going to provide a quick reminder of what I think I mean by a few ‘techie’ words that will be used in this article.

‘App’ is short for “application”, which refers to a software application or a software programme used on a smartphone or mobile device such as the Android, iPhone, iPad or iTouch.

‘Android’ is an operating system for mobile phones and tablets, in much the same way that PCs run Microsoft Windows as their operating system. It is maintained by Google.

‘Tablet’ refers to a tablet computer; a mobile computer with a touch screen display, circuitry and battery in a single device. iPad by Apple is a type of tablet device.

Choosing technology: Where to start?

  1. Decide on the purpose of the device or app

Devices and apps are available to support education, leisure skills, communication, independent living, social skills and employment.  Determine whether the focus is to support the individual’s language and communication skills, or to teach numeracy or literacy, or indeed to provide an activity in which the individual can engage independently for a period of time (e.g. a game or a film).

Figure 1 outlines some of the areas of communication that can be supported and developed through the use of technology.

table 1

Figure 1: Elements of Communication which can be supported through use of technology

*AAC: Alternative and Augmentative Communication includes all forms of communication (other than oral speech) that are used to express thoughts, needs, wants, and ideas.  Voice Output Communication Aid (VOCA) is an aided AAC system as it is a device in addition to the users’ body.

  1. Match the capabilities and needs of the user/individual to the features of the device/app

Factors to consider when choosing a device/ tablet include

  • screen size,
  • durability,
  • screen glare,
  • volume,
  • weight

Factors to consider when choosing an app to use include

  • the picture or symbol system used and whether and how easily the system can be personalised with photographs,
  • the ability to change the grid size (number of symbols/pictures on a page),
  • the presence or absence of a voice output,
  • the layout of the folders,
  • the capacity for language development.
  1. Identify and include an appropriate instructional approach as part of the intervention package, as this is required to enhance communication

AAC users and communication partners (the person(s) with whom we communicate) benefit from support and training to use specific techniques and strategies to maximise the benefits and effectiveness of AAC.  Likewise it is important to think about what the communication partner can do to support the user to use an app or technology to transition or complete a task more independently.

Wading Through the Apps

There are thousands of apps available to support and develop communication skills, so that the search for the right app can seem overwhelming.  I have found some of the following websites and resources useful in my work and others have been recommended to me:

On this website, apps are organised in sections relating to their general purpose (e.g. communication, education, fun, life skills) in an interactive ‘app wheel’ (last updated in April 2015, see Figure 2).  The website allows the user to click on each app icon to find out more about the app. This website also publishes regular app reviews which aim to provide an evidence-based perspective on apps for autism.

table 2

Figure 2: Interactive app wheel compiled by Sue Fletcher-Watson.

Mark Coppin has also developed an ‘Apps for ASD’ wheel identifying the features that are important when choosing a suitable app. This can be viewed at

For AAC  provides a list of AAC apps, including information about key features of each app, which will help in discussions with the speech and language therapist as to an app that might best meet your AAC needs.

A fact sheet about iPad and Tablet apps has been published by I CAN, the children’s communication charity, at

Apps relating to the various areas of communication including language, speech, emotions, social communication and organisation are outlined in an easy to read table which includes the price and comments about the app.

In my experience, many apps are regularly updated as a result of both user feedback and further advances in technology.  An example of this is in visual schedule/organisation/social story apps.  Where once these apps were personalised through use of photographs, they can now be personalised through use of video of the individual completing the task, or steps in the task.  Planned use of videos is known as ‘Video Modelling’ and ‘Video Self-Modelling’ and have been found to be effective means of skill acquisition, maintenance and generalisation for individuals with ASD (Bellini & Akullian, 2007).

Apps vary in price; some are free with others being relatively expensive.  Many apps offer a ‘lite’ version, which is a free taster of the app and others offer a free trial period of the app. Trials and ‘lite’ versions can be a very effective part of the decision-making process to know if the app is the right one for you at the moment.  In addition, there are a number of websites, blogs or forums on which parents and app users provide reviews and personal accounts of their use of the apps.

Getting Going

Apps as VOCAs

If technology is being used as a VOCA it is advisable that parents, the device user and the speech and language therapist work in partnership to identify and plan when the device will be used, with what vocabulary and the role of the communication partner (the listener) during interactions.  ‘Augmented input’ (Elder & Goosens, 1994 cited in Mirenda, 2001; Cafeiro, 2005) is an approach advocated by many in the field of AAC that involves the communication partner simultaneously touching the corresponding symbols to his/her spoken words as they are spoken.  This provides a model to use the VOCA.  Alternatively, some apps have specific instructional packages in which the communication partner is less actively involved.  Regardless of the instructional approach, integration of the VOCA into an individual’s everyday activities has been shown to lead to the most successful outcomes for functional communication (Beukelman & Mirenda, 2005).  In terms of evidence-based practice, various analysis of research into the use of technology such as iPad and iPod to enhance the communication of individuals with developmental difference such as ASD has shown favourable outcomes (e.g., Kagohara et al., 2013; Alzrayer et al., 2014)

Apps for Interaction & Leisure

We know that individuals learn best when they are interested and engaged in an activity.  If tablet technology and apps are attractive and engaging for you or a family member, it is important for communication partners and practitioners to use this interest to foster and build communication and interaction skills, even if this is not the advertised purpose of the app.  It is worth considering “The 7 Ps of Using Mobile Technology in Therapy” (DeCurtis & Ferrer, 2011) as a guide to help to maximise interaction and communication with the device or app in everyday situations. The 7 Ps are:

  1. Preparation: What is the rationale behind using an app versus using actual books/toys?
  2. Participants: Consider characteristics of the child using the device/app
  3. Parameters: What is the appropriate amount of time for the child to spend using the device?  Might the device interfere with naturally occurring communication at times?
  4. Purpose: What is the advertised purpose of the app? How can this app meet a child’s goals (by means of this purpose or using the app in an alternative way)?
  5. Positioning: How and where should you position the child and/or yourself to maximise interaction and communication?
  6. Playtime: How will you and your child experience shared enjoyment with the app?
  7. Potential: How will you extend and expand the learning gained from using an app to real-life experiences and to support future learning?

For more information on “The 7 Ps”, see .

Managing Time with the Tablet

As with all exciting developments comes caution.  Learning and interacting through technology alone may not always provide everything a child needs for development; variety of learning opportunities should be encouraged.  Many parents, however, have discussed how it can be difficult to limit time with technology.  The National Autistic Society ( suggests ways to manage the amount of time and quality of time a user spends with portable technology.  The suggestions include:

– Use the child’s routine to make the technology available at specific times;

– Use the battery life icon;

– Use an online timer;

– Use different coloured cases when using the device for different purposes.

Technology for Social Connection

Social media such as Facebook and Twitter and online communities are increasingly used as a means of staying connected with friends and families, creating new relationships with like-minded individuals and exploring topics and dilemmas in an undisclosed manner.  The face-to-face element of social communication can be eliminated in communication via technology.  For some individuals for whom initiating and maintaining conversation can be a daunting task, social media can allow a greater sense of control over the conversation, more time to process what has been ‘said’ and what to ‘say’, and avoids the need to process the non-verbal messages that come with face-to-face interactions. Within the literature on the use of technology by individuals with ASD, the themes that emerge relate to the sense of empowerment  and social connection experienced by people using technology as a medium for communication as well as the voice given to this community (Byrne, 2013; Davidson, 2008).

“Technology doesn’t mean sitting alone in a darkened room any more, and the line between technology and ‘real life’ is disappearing” (NAS, 2015,

‘Cyber safety’ is an important element of any online activity. It is critical that internet users are aware of the dangers that exist when talking online and learn to be cyber safe.

Technology and Innovative Practice

Advances in technology also provide a challenge to the teams working with individuals with communication needs and their families.  Many practitioners are involved in innovative practice using technology.  An example of this can be found in the work of The Irish Stammering Association, which runs an online support group for teenagers who stammer.  Callum Wells, Speech and Language Therapist, explains below how the online group works including feedback from participants:

Irish Stammering Association runs a monthly online support group for teenagers who stammer. The group aims to provide a place for teenagers who stammer from all over Ireland to meet, chat and share experiences online. The group uses Skype to connect to a video conversation. The group is facilitated by speech and language therapists but the young people discuss topics of interest to them. The group was established in early 2014 and members hail from various parts of the country. Feedback from members has been positive: “I get to talk to people and I don’t [need to] think about my speech”, “I’m going out of my comfort zone…it’s a good thing and helpful” and “the call reminds me about techniques”. As a group facilitator, I have enjoyed being part of the discussion on stammering and have been impressed by the willingness of people to share experiences and support each other. A variety of topics have been discussed ranging from stammering to X-Factor contenders, which allowed for a more free-flowing and fun conversation. I hope that more young people from different parts of the country will participate in upcoming groups and that they will be empowered from group support.

Callum Wells’ contact details:

Final Thoughts …

Advances in technology have brought new opportunities to support, develop and enhance communication skills.  This technology may be life-changing for some families but it is rarely the answer to all the communication needs of an individual.  Communication is by definition an interactive process where messages are sent between a speaker and a listener.  The listener is vital to the further development of communication skills, even with the addition of a device or app.


Alzrayer, N., Banda, D., & Koul, R., (2014) Use of iPad/iPods with Individuals with Autism and other Developmental Disabilities: A Meta-analysis of communication Interventions

Bellini, S., & Akullian, J., (2007) A Meta-Analysis of Video Modelling and Video Self-Modelling Interventions for Children and Young People with Autism Spectrum Disorders, Exceptional Children, 73, 261-284

Beukelman, D.R., & Mirenda, P. (2005) Augmentative and Alternative Communication; Supporting Children & Adults with Complex Communication Needs (3rd Edition) Baltimore: Paul H Brookes Publishing Co.

Byrne, J., (2013) Autism and Social Media: An exploration of the use of computer mediated communications by individuals on the autism spectrum, University of Glasgow Chancellor’s Fund, Student Project Report FINISH THIS REFERENCE WITH WEB PAGE

Cafiero, J. (2005) Meaningful Exchanges for People with Autism; An Introduction to Augmentative and Alternative Communication, (MD: Woodbine Inc

Cafiero, J. (2008) Technology Supports for Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders, Technology in Action, 3, 3, 1-12

DeCurtis, L. L., & Ferrer, D. (2011). Integrating mobile technology using a family-focused approach. CSHA Magazine,41, 1, 10–11, 25.

Howard, S.C., Laubscher, E.H., Schlosser, R.W., Flynn, S., Sorce, J.F., Abramson, J., (2012) Applying Technology to Visually Support Language and Communication in Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders, Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 42, 1228-1235

Kagohara, D., et al (2013) Using iPods and iPads in teaching programs for individuals with developmental disabilities: A systematic review, 34, 147 – 156

Mirenda, P. (2001) Autism, augmentative communication, and assistive technology: what do we really know? Focus on Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities, 16, 3, 141- 151

Author Bio

Clare Hudson is Speech and Language Therapy Manager at St Paul’s Hospital and Special School, Dublin.