TIPS – a tool for the uses of the new technologies with children with ASD

TIPS – feedback from the use of the new technologies with children with autism spectrum disorder symptoms (ASD)

On the occasion of the world autism awareness day, FIRAH and its universities and stakeholders European partners publish TIPS.

This booklet in done in a question and answer format. It gathers answers of children and adolescents with ASD, to their parents, and to professionals working with these children on the use of new technologies. The questionnaires included questions on the digital tools and method of use, the different areas (educational, communication, logic…) in which they were used, appropriation, and specific questions on verbal communication and social interactions. The questionnaires were filled in by 111 professionals, 137 parents, and 90 children or adolescents with ASD, from Belgium, France, Luxembourg, United Kingdom and Switzerland.

Tips was created through the autism and new technologies program led by FIRAH and the UEFA Foundation for children.

Read about Tips

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Eagles book their place at the 2018 IBSA Blind Football World Championships

The members of the Solidarité Aveugle (Blind Solidarity) project have been rewarded for their perseverance. The Eagles will fly to Spain to represent Mali at the 2018 IBSA Blind Football World Championships.

Visually impaired footballers from all parts of Africa donned their blindfolds and battled it out at the recently held IBSA Blind Football African Championships. Among them were the Eagles of Mali, all members of the Solidarité Aveugle (Blind Solidarity) project run by the French Libre Vue association, who set the tone with a 12-0 victory over Cape Verde in their opening match. “We went with the aim of bringing the cup home and qualifying for the 2018 World Championships,” said Mali forward Bandiougou Traoré.

Efforts rewarded

Qualifying is one thing, but the opportunity to play is another. The Mali team’s participation in the second edition of the IBSA Blind Football African Championships in Cape Verde was no foregone conclusion. And Mali is not alone. Sending a team to an event like this is expensive and, without the support of the relevant authorities, often more than small associations can afford. Financial difficulties prevented Ivory Coast from taking part, for example. Fortunately, however, thanks to the efforts of the Libre Vue association, it was a different story for the Eagles. Having already secured funding from the UEFA Foundation for Children, Libre Vue also set up a successful crowdfunding campaign to fund their participation.

Blind football, an effective tool for social integration

The battle was not in vain, as the Mali team’s determined approach saw them finish in an impressive second place and thus qualify for the IBSA Blind Football World Championships to be played in Madrid from 5 to 18 June 2018.

The Blind Solidarity project gives visually impaired youngsters from Bamako an opportunity to discover blind football and its values, and to increase their self-confidence. A total of 150 young people aged between 7 and 25 participate in the project, which runs five training sessions each week. For Bandiougou Traoré, who has been playing blind football for five years, playing in such a competition is a dream come true. “It’s an honour, it’s something I’m really proud of!” he says. As well as requiring commitment, endurance and concentration, blind football helps to send out a strong message of integration and social cohesion by changing perceptions of disabled people. When they represent their country, blind footballers are not defined by their disability: they are players and nothing else.

PluSport player escorts take centre stage in the Super League

On Sunday 30 April, 22 children and teenagers from Axpo PluSport football teams accompanied the players of Grasshopper Club Zürich and FC Lugano onto the pitch at Letzigrund stadium ahead of their Super League tie.

Many young football fans dream of lining up on the pitch alongside their favourite players. On 30 April, that dream came true for 22 disabled children and teenagers thanks to PluSport, the umbrella organisation for disabled sports in Switzerland. The lucky player escorts were selected from the Axpo PluSport teams of FC Zürisee Juniors, FC Turbi, FC Wiggenhof and Ponte Kickers Zofingen. The initiative was made possible with the support of Grasshopper Club Zürich.

“It was a fantastic experience for the children,” said Anita Fischer, the PluSport project manager. “And their coaches and parents were very hands-on in preparing the children’s big moment on the pitch.”

And what about the children, what did they think of it all? “It was super cool,” according to Naomi König (14), whose sister, Saskia (16), said: “I thought it was a unique experience, something really special.” Others, such as Tobias Ruf, would have clearly preferred to play themselves!

The UEFA Foundation for Children welcomes this initiative, which shows once again that football is open to all. Aside from the joy it spreads, football enables disabled children to stay active and it gives them strength to tackle the challenges they face in day-to-day life.

çATED pour tes dents: a programme to help children with autism improve their dental hygiene

The UEFA Foundation for Children supports applied research projects designed to improve communication and education for autistic children in Europe.

In 2015, the foundation’s board of trustees decided to award its entire annual solidarity fund of €1m to the International Foundation of Applied Disability Research (FIRAH). FIRAH works in close cooperation with a number of partners, particularly universities in various European countries and national and international associations for autistic children and their families.

The foundation’s financial support for FIRAH will last for four years but has already made it possible to develop a project entitled ‘çATED pour tes dents’ (çATED for your teeth). The independence of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), notably regarding their oral health, is a specific research domain and an important real-life issue for families and professionals.

The çATED app was developed by researchers, engineers, professionals and parents of autistic children. It enables the children to be more independent and more confident and to organise themselves so they can complete their daily tasks. A visual timetable provides a representation of the day that the children can fill in themselves with their parents, organising and adapting it according to their needs and how they do things. This customisation makes it easier for the child to take charge.

The app also makes it possible to break a complex task down into simpler sub-tasks, making it easier for children to learn how to brush their teeth, and helps them to integrate doing so into their daily routine after each meal.

The app also makes it easier to prepare for and carry out one-off tasks that could cause anxiety, such as going to the dentist.

The çATED pour tes dents project is led by the University of Nantes in cooperation with the disability organisations ADAPEI 44, Agir et Vivre l’autisme and Chrysalide de l’Être.

A series of videos providing more information about the project and how people can use the app in their daily lives is available on the çATED pour les dents YouTube channel.

Three new research projects were chosen in 2016 and are about to start. The projects are:

  • The development of an evidence-based practice evaluation tool to support technologies linked to ASD.
  • The development of a software program that involves training, cooperative social interaction and motor learning, with the objective of developing children’s social, interaction and cooperation skills.
  • e-GOLIAH, a project providing digital games that help children improve their joint attention and imitation skills, two abilities that are key for their first social interactions and communication. This project involves a more natural way of taking action, as it focuses on children under five and is used at home with the involvement of the children’s parents.

Improving communication and education for autistic children in Europe

Location and general information

Context

The UEFA Foundation for Children has decided to allocate its annual support grant for 2015 to a project designed to improve communication and education for autistic children in Europe. This project, submitted by the International Foundation of Applied Disability Research (FIRAH), has been approved by the Board of trustees of the foundation. Inspired by the innovative approach of the project, the UEFA Foundation for Children has adopted the words of Mahatma Gandhi to use as the slogan for the project:

Be the change that you wish to see in the world.

Thus the project to improve the lives of autistic children and their families, and to give them hope for the future.

What we are doing

The FIRAH is working with a number of partners to run this project: representatives of international and national associations for autistic children and their families; educational, social and medical services that come into contact with autistic children every day; and universities and research centres.

The project has three pillars:

  • Facilitating access to the latest educational material and equipment such as robots and tablets, adapted to the specific needs of autistic children and their families.
  • Training families and professionals working with autistic children so that they can help autistic children make use of new technology, with online guides and training available to families and professionals.
  • Developing applied research projects to assess the impact new technology (robots, tablets, etc.) has on the every lives of autistic children in order to improve the equipment and apps available. All such research projects will involve the children, their parents and professionals to deliver concrete results based on the needs and expectations of autistic children and their families.

The project will be implemented chiefly in six European countries in order to keep it relatively local and focused on the real needs of families.

The children, their parents and professionals will be involved in evaluating the results.

Our partners

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UEFA Foundation for Children supports World Autism Awareness Day

World Autism Awareness Day takes place on Saturday 2 April, and the UEFA Foundation for Children is lending its support as part of a long-term project aimed at helping to improve the lives of autistic children and their families and giving them hope for the future.

As part of its activities on behalf of children across the world, the UEFA foundation allocated its annual support grant for 2015 to a project designed to improve communication and education for autistic children in Europe. The innovative project is being coordinated by the International Foundation of Applied Disability Research (FIRAH).

The slogan for the project comes from Mahatma Ghandi: “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” To this end, FIRAH has entered into partnerships with international and national associations for autistic children and their families, as well as educational, social and medical services. All of these partners have regular contact with autistic children to help bring happiness into their daily lives.

The FIRAH project is called Autism and New Technologies, and is being implemented for a four-year period in six European countries – Belgium, France, Luxembourg, the Republic of Ireland, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. Partners include around 30 institutions using new technologies for autistic children aged between 2 and 18, in addition to university partners and associations in the six countries.

Three pillars underpin the project:

  • Facilitating access to the latest educational material and equipment such as robots and tablets, adapted to the specific needs of autistic children and their families.
  • Training families and professionals working with autistic children so that they can help autistic children make use of new technology, with online guides and training available to families and professionals.
  • Developing applied research projects to assess the impact of new technology (robots, tablets, etc.) on the everyday lives of autistic children in order to improve the equipment and apps available. All such research projects will involve the children, their parents and professionals to deliver concrete results based on the needs and expectations of autistic children and their families.

The children, their parents and professionals will be involved in evaluating the results of the Autism and New Technologies project.

“The UEFA Foundation for Children is delighted to give its backing to this project of considerable importance,” said the chairman of the foundation’s board of trustees, former European Commission president José Manuel Barroso. “Autism represents a great challenge for modern society, and I have no doubt that the deployment of new technologies in this area will bring significant results not only for FIRAH and its partners in their pioneering work, but also for autistic children and their families.

“The Autism and New Technologies project promises to be a resounding success, and the UEFA foundation is happy that football, as a powerful social force, can support these activities in accordance with its key mission to help improve children’s lives.”

Tonga’s Just Play programme reaps rewards

Tevita Telini was not born with a disability, but in primary school he had an operation on his head that went wrong. Consequently, he lost all his strength and struggled to walk or stand without assistance.

Some 90% of disabled children in the Pacific Islands do not attend school. Negative perceptions surround people with disabilities, who are not given the respect or equality they deserve and are often excluded from physical activity, which increases their risk of developing non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as obesity and type 2 diabetes.

Luckily, Tevita attended the Ofa Tui Amanake (OTA) disability centre in Tonga, where the Just Play programme is run once a week.

Tevita took part in Just Play every week and attended weekly workouts with the Tonga Football Association to build up his strength. When he began, a 2kg weight was too much for him to lift while standing up, and he could only do one sit-up before he was exhausted. Tevita’s lack of fitness and inactive lifestyle put him at a higher risk of developing NCDs. However, he is very determined and worked hard to build up his strength at the OTA centre and through Just Play.

His hard work paid off when, at the age of 31, he was selected to represent Tonga in the 2015 Special Olympic Games in Los Angeles. After two years of training, Tevita was capable of lifting 20kg, and could complete three sets of 20 sit-ups. His tenacity has also earned him a place at the 2017 Special Olympic Games, where he will compete in the javelin, shot-put and discus.

Not only has Tevita improved his lifestyle, built up his strength and lowered his risk of developing NCDs, he has also become a role model to aspiring disabled and non-disabled athletes around Tonga. He has proved that with hard work and determination, you can overcome obstacles and achieve something great. Tevita and many others who have participated in Just Play have changed perceptions surrounding disabled people in the Pacific Islands, proving that they deserve respect just like everybody else.


While Just Play is a sport for development programme that targets children aged 6 to 12, the programme has no age limit for participants with intellectual disabilities. Just Play is managed by the Oceania Football Confederation, with support from the UEFA Foundation for Children, the Australian Government, the Australian Football Federation, the New Zealand government and UNICEF.

To find out more about Just Play programme

Annual solidarity fund 2015

The UEFA Foundation for Children has decided to allocate its €1m annual solidarity fund for 2015 to a project designed to improve communication and education for autistic children in Europe. The project is organised by the International Foundation of Applied Disability Research (FIRAH). Inspired by its innovative approach, which combines technology and new teaching methods, the board of trustees decided to give the project the foundation’s backing so that a greater number of children with autism can benefit from the tools available. The foundation will also support research and development with a view to better meeting the needs of autistic children and their families.