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Using iPads to support young women with intellectual disability in self-care

News story

Is the title of the honours project completed by 4th year student Emma Van Chastelet, she completed this project with supervision and guidance from Dr Courtenay Harris and Dr Annette Joosten. The project explored how four young women with intellectual disability were able to use a customised iPad intervention for ten weeks to assist them in completing self-care tasks that they had identified as challenging. The objectives were to determine if the levels of prompting that the young women required to complete the tasks changed after the iPad intervention was used and to identify the factors which influenced the usability of the device.

Emma worked with the young women and their families to; identify the self-care tasks to address, analyse how they could currently complete the tasks, set goals for desired level of task completion and determine the best way to customise the device to the young women’s capacities. Numerous iPad applications were used to support the young women in completing the self care tasks. Some of the self-care tasks included; getting ready on time in the morning, preparing light meals, dressing appropriately for the weather and money management. The applications selected were priced below $10 and were not disability specific applications.
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Several important results were found from the study. Firstly the young women’s perceptions of their performance and satisfaction in the self-care tasks improved. The caregivers reported improvements in the young women’s ability to perform the tasks and a decreased need for prompting associated with tasks. All women were able to achieve at least one of their goals, with some achieving all three. Finally factors such as the size of the device, the tone selected for reminders and the positioning of the device during the task all impacted upon the iPad’s usability within the study.

Emma was invited to present her research at the WA Australasian Society for Intellectual Disability (ASID) Conference. The theme of the conference was “who is in the driver’s seat?” and topics such as promoting choice and control for people with intellectual disability and the roll out of the NDIS across WA were discussed in relation to this theme. Emma’s presentation focussed on how, through findings from her research project, iPad technology can be used to promote choice and control which puts the young person in the driver’s seat when managing an area of their life. Emma reports she found the conference insightful and learnt a lot from the critical conversations which were had regarding the NDIS.