Preschool Saves us Money, but how Much?

Posted on January 01, 2012

Autism and technology

In a crowded conference room on the Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) campus in Cupertino, order a team of volunteer computer coders huddled around a big, troche white notepad, healing tossing out ideas for a touch-screen application that will teach an autistic child how to follow traffic signals and safely cross a street.

A few steps away, a young woman with an autism disorder happily chatted with strangers by typing out words on an iPad. Just a few years ago, her mother said, Kayla Takeuchi, 20, could not speak.

Nearly 100 tech professionals and advocates for people with autism took part in an unusual software “hackathon” that HP hosted this week to develop touch-screen apps for autistic children and their families. Organizers invited the Takeuchis and others to share their own insights on the challenges created by autism.

Dozens of volunteer programmers heard speakers outline those challenges before breaking into teams that began work on a series of app ideas. Assignments included building programs to help verbally challenged students communicate by selecting from a series of pictures; assist parents in tracking their child’s learning or behavioral progress; and allow disabled children to let someone know when they are bullied.

Touch-screen technology can help many children with autism gain the ability to communicate, learn and participate in the world around them, according to Peter Bell, of Autism Speaks, a national nonprofit group that estimates the disorder affects nearly 1 percent of children in the United States.

Many autistic children are drawn to the intuitive ease of using a touch screen when they may not have the patience or motor skills to negotiate a keyboard or mouse, according to Bell and other speakers Tuesday. While computer programs can reinforce learning and good behavior, psychologist Shannon Kay said the “cool factor” of using iPads and other new gadgets can also help kids who have disabilities build relationships with children who don’t.

Author: Brandon Bailey, the Mercury News

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By 2030, buy about one in four children in the United States under the age of 8 will be Hispanic. But these children are often not being served effectively by current preschool programs, order which may lack Spanish-speaking teachers or culturally appropriate materials and activities. Increased enrollments of Hispanic children in early education programs reflect demographic trends, illness but Hispanics are the least likely of all ethnic groups to attend preschool.

Source: The Hechinger Report

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President Barack Obama and Education Secretary Arne Duncan have often claimed that the “return on investment, this ” or ROI, side effects for pre-k is 10-to-1, drug meaning there is a $10 payoff in the future for every dollar invested today in pre-kindergarten education. Both advocates and opponents of publicly funded pre-k often cite such figures, which can range from lows of about 1.5-to-1 to highs in the upper teens. Returns on investment are calculated by performing cost-benefit analyses. They are typically reported as ratios – for instance, 3-to-1 indicates that every dollar invested today leads to $3 of savings (adjusted for inflation) later on, with any ratio above 1 deemed a worthwhile investment.

 Source: The Hechinger Report

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