Using the RADIO as a tool to help students with Autism spectrum disorders learn to take part in a conversation

Jul 28, 2011
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The Temple Gradin School at the University of Colorado in Boulder is offering a summer program for youth aged 11 – 16 on communication skills. The students are learning how to give recorded interviews of each other on the radio, as a technique for learning how to understand another person’s perspective in conversation.

Some of the students have a strength in learning facts and sharing those facts and their opinions with others; however their ability to ask other people questions and then listen to their replies are more of an emerging skill.

To help students learn the new skill, the program head, Dr. Amy Thrasher (a Clinical Assistant Professor at CU) demonstrated how to use the microphones and editing software at the college radio station, KGNU. Then, News Producer Len Houle offered the students instruction on how to interview others so that the interviewee will respond with more than a simple “yes” or “no”.  Mr. Houle interviewed a Graduate Student to provide an example of how the interview could be conducted then students broke into small groups to practice on their interviewing skills.

It took many tries for some of the students to learn to ask the interview question and then allow the other student a chance to respond. Many students tended, at first, to change the question before the other student could respond, or to simply answer the question themselves. Once the student pair (interviewer and interviewee) had learned to take turns in the communication process, the final interview was recorded and played on the air for the whole community to hear.

You can learn more about this summer program at the website for the Temple Gradin School in Boulder Colorado. That website is:

Author: Tanya