‘SMART-ASD: Matching Autistic People with Technology Resources’ is the latest MOOC (massive, open, online course) from the University, delivered in association with partners FutureLearn and designed to equip carers and practitioners with skills and new ideas that can be used to help young people living with autism.

Drawing on the expertise from its Centre for Applied Autism Research (CAAR) within the Department, the course will explore how new apps can best help children living with the condition.

Raising awareness of autism

According to the National Autistic Society, autism is much more common than many people think. There are around 700,000 people on the autism spectrum in the UK – more than 1 in 100. The charity suggests without greater public understanding, autistic people and their families are at risk of being isolated in society.

As well as increasing awareness, the MOOC will help direct people to solutions and advice for those interacting with children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) or Intellectual Disability (ID). Significantly, this includes introducing parents and teachers to free SMART-ASD app that helps assess the needs of autistic children and to identify the most suitable technology to assist their individual requirements.

Director of the Centre for Applied Autism Research, Professor Mark Brosnan, explained: “The online course is ideal for anyone who has a family member with autism or works with someone with autism – whatever the level of prior experience.

“The issue today is not the lack of digital technologies offering support for autistic people, but how to find the best match between the person’s needs and capabilities with the available technological solutions.

“As a colleague with an autistic daughter said ‘a child with autism only has one childhood’, which highlights the need to identify the most appropriate technologies for each child.”

Learning and recognising the signs of autism

Nigel Smith, Head of Content at FutureLearn, added: “We’re very proud to be working with the University of Bath on such an important initiative. There is increasing research and interest about how technology can help individuals with autism so we’re delighted to provide the technology platform to help carers, teachers and parents to find out about this latest thinking, to learn how to recognise the signs of autism and to get advice and insights about the solutions out there.

“We also hope that the social element of our platform creates a supportive environment where learners can share and learn from each other’s experiences.”

The four-week course will start on Monday 3 April coinciding with World Autism Awareness Day on Sunday 2 April, however individuals can sign up now.

The course is one output of an international collaboration with researcher Gerardo Herrera from the University of Valencia funded by ERASMUS+. It will be made available in other languages in the near future.

Find out more about our MOOCs:

Find out more about our autism-related research: