Learning how to navigate the socially challenging world of high school can be stressful for autistic teenagers. Even with the support of teachers and parents, teenagers with an autism diagnosis struggle to complete basic tasks and learn social skills needed for success. What if an e-learning application for smart phones could assist these teenagers through various social situations? According to the research of Peter Ohrstrom in his article Helping Autism-Diagnosed Teenagers Navigate and Develop Socially Using E-Learning Based upon Mobile Persuasion, Ohrstrom discusses the prototype of a mobile application that could be customized to help autistic teenagers in challenging situations.
In this article published in the International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, this mobile application HANDS would provide autistic teens and their teachers with a customizable toolkit based upon the teen's needs. For example, an autistic teen may struggle with a morning school routine, and HANDS could present the teen with step by step instructions for the situation. Some concerns have been raised about the level of monitoring needed for HANDS to guide these teenagers. One key question the pending research will need to answer is: are the HANDS devices encouraging independence on the part of the autistic teen or fostering dependence upon the HANDS toolkit? Further prototypes are being planned to answer these questions.