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Teacher and learner assistive technology
Thursday 16 July 2020

Autistic children to access technological support

Ninety autistic youngsters and their families will benefit from new technology to help them overcome the challenges they face, thanks to a grant from London Freemasons. 

The £60,000 grant to Ambitious about Autism will fund a new Assistive Technologist over three years, who will enable young people with complex autism to communicate more effectively through technology.  

The young people all attend Ambitious College which is a specialist autism day college in London. It is run by Ambitious about Autism and has two campuses based in Tottenham and Isleworth.  

The goal is to identify the right technology for each young person, and enable them to use it to best effect in order to pursue their education and communicate their needs. 

Families and carers will also receive training, so they can understand the technology, learn how to fix problems and to support their child to use it at home.

The enormous range of technology on the market whilst exciting, can be difficult to understand without specialist knowledge. The Assistive Technologist is a special role as it will bring this specialist knowledge in technology, teaching and autism combined.  

Due to the COVID-19 crisis, the Masonic Charitable Foundation has agreed a change to Year one of the grant so that Ambitious about Autism can provide technologies to enable young people to learn both at college and through distance learning at home. 

It is expected that every one of the 90 learners will be better able to communicate their needs, express higher levels of wellbeing and generally make more progress in their development. 

The project is expected to help 480 people in total. The 90 young people with autism, 90 family members and 300 education professionals, including speech and language therapists, behaviour support workers, teachers and occupational therapists. 

The grant from London Freemasons comes through the Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF), which is funded by Freemasons, their families and friends, from across England and Wales. 

Jolanta Lasota, Chief Executive of Ambitious about Autism, said: “We’re very grateful to London Freemasons for their generous grant, which will provide immediate support to autistic young people who have been deeply affected by the Coronavirus pandemic. This grant will also have a long-term impact, allowing our team of experts to develop new ways of supporting autistic young people that will improve many more lives in the future.” 

Tony Shields from London Freemasons, said: “I’m very pleased we’ve been able to help Ambitious about Autism, who do wonderful work for young people with autism. New technology offers major opportunities to help them improve their wellbeing in ways that were not possible only a few years ago and this will allow many of them and their families to take full advantage of it.”