For Residential Project, I will be writing about planning and designing a 3-hour kayaking program for individuals who have Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) for RAINBOW Centre.
For my residential project, our objective is to plan and design a 3 hour kayaking program for individuals who have Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) for Rainbow Centre. Inclusive program is where individuals with disability can still participate in activities that abled people participates in.
Our team did a site visit to Rainbow Centre and did a case study to get to know our potential clients. Thus we know their current capabilities and factors to look out for while amending the programme to include them. The student that I have look out for, his name is JunKang. He is an autistic kid. Age of 8. His modes of communication are verbal receptive (2 to 3 step instruction level) and expressive (commanding, commenting, questioning, requesting) and visual aids (instructions supported with pictures).
The profile of our participants are students of Rainbow Centre who are autistic. Each child is unique in their own ways ranging from low to moderate cognitive skills, low to moderate functionality skills. We had 15 students but only 14 who participated in our programme that we had come out with, 3 hours of kayaking. To participate in the programme, a selection phase was conducted by teachers from Rainbow Centre by understanding their profile, their need and want and their severity of their condition. The age ranges from 7 years old to 15 years old. The profile then given to us are based on their likes and dislikes so as to take note on their special needs. As well as their mode of communication that is verbal or pictures and photos to aid explanations for majority. And there are profiles with self-regulation given, to what I notice, these profiles are the ones which need more attention.
Process of developing a prototype
After having a basic understanding about what autistic is all about, our team paid a visit to Rainbow Centre to mingle with the special need students as well as the teacher in charge to understand about the profile of the students that we will be taking charge for our kayaking programme. During the visit, we came out with questions for the teacher as well as the participants to understand how they work and behave in the outdoors and what to take note if there are any outbreaks. Other than speaking with the teachers there, we get to interact and bond with the participant too. At the same time we got to join them in their class and observe how they engaged in class. From what I observe, my student is very active and lively to everything he’s doing. With all the information gathered, our team sat down and discuss our findings and observation from the various students that we were attached with and discuss the possible ways to conduct a programme that is catered to these group of special needs students. As our project is to come out with a 3-hour kayaking program that suits their needs and necessity. By consolidating fun into it, and at the same time for us to deliver our objective for kayaking to them. Which is to allow the participants to engage in the outdoors like how the abled children are able to. We throw out ideas such as boat racing, bum boat game, collecting of colour ball challenge. With every activities we come out with there will be some deficiency to it as to suit the profile of the participants. Our team agreed on the delivery of our message to the students to use simplified words, short and easy as our team noted that these students learn and communicate well through one word to short sentence. We get to understand with the teachers help that they engage the best with visual aids such as pictures and one words. With much discussion, our team decided to use the collection of coloured balls as our main activity for our program, simple and easy for them to understand the objective too. First stage will be introducing of the kayaks, paddle and the PFD. Then, get them comfortable on the kayak in the water. Afterwards, we release the coloured balls for them to collect. Lastly, we’ll do a debrief for the programme. The students are autistic and they can get overwhelm or excited due to the new environment which may cause them to be rowdy or hyper-active. Deployment of manpower to assist us in the programme, we ask the other two team that are also involve in the programme to help out.
With the arrival of the participants, check their medical condition; are they feeling okay. Then we’ll proceed to the safety briefing for participants, warm up. Put on their PFDs. Before the start of the main activity, introduce them with the kayaks and paddle. Lastly, the main activity and finish off with debrief.
I will be using FAMME (Functional Approach for Modifying Movement Experiences), Kasser and Lytle (2005), model to aim at the inclusive of all abilities in our activity which is a 3-hour kayaking session for the autistic children.
There are 4 steps procedure in the FAMME model.
Step 1: Determine underlying of skills
The skills that are needed in our kayaking activity are eye-hand coordination, strength, balance and posture. The purpose of kayaking is to move the boat forward in the water. To move the boat forward, the upper arm should straighten as the paddle enters the water and as soon as the paddle blade is completely buried, the low shoulder should pull back to power the stroke. When paddling, having eye-hand coordination is needed to make sure that the boat move. Strength on the other hand is to help in line together with eye-hand coordination. For balance and posture, sitting up straight, stretching forward and not slouching on the seat back are crucial for boat control, good body rotation and strong paddling.
However, where an autistic individual has difficulty in their coordination, modification is to be made. To make the activity simple and fun to understand the children just have to row the boat forward.
Step 2 : Determine current capabilities of the individual
In this section, I’ll be only focusing on one individual. The current capabilities of the individuals have less strength, balanced and coordination. Our team was given a brief review and understanding of our children. Then we got a chance to notice and observe on the day when we visited Rainbow Centre of the children. ‘Max’ is an 8 year old boy who have a moderate level of understanding. He is very loud and tend to get excited easily to things that are new to him. Max doesn’t like it when things doesn’t goes as plan, he’ll then start to hype up and start to lose control. So the teacher in-charge told us that there is a way to calm him down. Which is to ask him to do the ‘Turtle Control’ that will calm him down. He has an injury on his right arm where it resulted him to not able to straighten his arm. He’s mode of communications are verbal receptive (2 to 3 step instruction level) and expressive (commanding, commenting, questioning, requesting) and visual aids (instructions supported with pictures). We were also able to interact with Max to understand how he will roughly react on the day of the program.
Through the understanding of the participant (Max), we made some modification in generalized.
Step 3 : Match modification efforts to capabilities
We collect all the data we know from various children and came out with a final and generalized modified kayaking program. The kayaks that we use are inflatable floating kayaks to let them have a similar experience while as on a real kayak. The inflatable floating kayaks have lesser chance of capsizing. The paddle we used are a smaller and lighter paddles that suited the participants profile as they do not have much strength. The PFD (personal flotation device) are smaller and inflatable too to suit their physical size and needs. These are the modification made for the equipment.
As for the program, due to their level of understand, we use visual aids to assist us in communicating with the participants. Every visual aids consist of big coloured and simple picture with short words.Then we include coloured balls (primary colours like red, blue, and green, yellow) in our activity to let them have fun and at the same time help them in their cognitive thinking of recognizing colours and matching them with the rest of the balls and collecting them. During the briefing of introducing the kayaks and the equipment, we use lots of action and minimize and simplified the words we use to convey our instructions to the participants. To even capture their attention we used big inflatable beach ball.
They will be able to experience kayaking at the same time have fun. These modification also let them work on their physical motor skill and as well cognitively.
Step 4 : Evaluate modification effectiveness
After the execution, I concluded that the modification of the equipment are a success to our program. This is being said with the looks and feedback from the participants, parents, teacher and our instructors. The modified kayak used was able to include more than 2 people in and that makes an instructor abled to follow a participant on the kayak into the water. The paddle used for the participants are just right in size. The participants were able to paddle and move the kayak forward.
Next, the effectiveness of the program was a success too. At the end of the day, there were smiles from the participants and feedbacks from the parents were great. “My son enjoyed rowing of the boat. And from the action he gave, I can see that he enjoyed a lot.”- One of the participant’s dad. (Post-Execution Fieldnote) The participants are able to identify and recognize what colour ball they have and are able to collect them all.
In conclusion, it is a success that our modification works. If there are more opportunity in the future, we can share our program.
- Gather group member during August.
- 3 Months prior of weekly meetings to distribute roles and updates. 1-2 hours of meeting each time every Thursday.
- During the month October, visit Rainbow Centre to understand more about the participants profile.
- During November, design and plan with data and logistics.
- December, Execution and evaluation.