autism airwavesA group of children with autism learned valuable communication skills when they recorded a podcast with media students in state-of-the-art broadcast facilities at Birmingham City University recently.

The pupils, aged 5-11, from Hazel Oak School in Shirley, visited state-of-the-art studios at the city centre campus to create a news report while younger pupils performed stories and riddles on the theme of ‘Under the Sea’.

Use of multimedia improves communication skills in children with special education needs, according to the head of Hazel Oak lower school Andrew Simms.

"Broadcast is an ideal format for autistic children, in that it demonstrates to them how people change their voice when speaking and taps into more general skills for verbal communication," he said. "We are keen at all times to encourage a sense of how children can affect and influence their environment, rather than how the environment affects them.

"The children have been engaging in a Challenge Week and their visit to Birmingham City University helped them achieve the end goal of a podcast."

The group recorded riddles, stories and sound effects on a sea theme as part of a project which the 3rd year media students also described as "rewarding" and "unexpected".

Simms continued: "Multimedia brings out speaking and listening skills – the children like to see what they look and sound like and over the past three years we’ve piloted using iPads in the classroom.

"Technology opens up so many doors for children with autism, and allows for greater independence and confidence."