In 2010, Victoria University completed research called ‘Connected Lives’ which highlighted the impact digital technology has on the connectedness and wellbeing of young people with multiple layers of disadvantages; such as disabilities, socio-economic and geographical.
It identified a lack of appropriate digital technology services for children living within the Autism Spectrum Disorder.
We started Digital Respite as an initiative to create a bank of free educational and non-violent games and software suitable for young people living with disabilities, which is available through our website.
These games, software and various digital activities are the basis of a program to assist children to develop their social, life, literacy and various other skills.
The Telstra Foundation Everyone Connected grant allowed us to run this program for the second time in 2013 for around twenty participants aged 6-15.
Parents get a break while their children take part, and we encourage them to use the resources at home too, providing a more cost effective alternative to traditional respite.
We have already seen many great outcomes. Improvements in social interaction, numeracy, literacy and problem solving and even one child progressed from having minimal speech to confidently counting to ten.
DIGITAL RESPITE PROGRAM SNAPSHOT
ADEC works with people with disabilities, and their carers, from non-English speaking backgrounds. The advocacy organisation provides social support groups, including the Digital Respite program. Digital Respite runs on Saturdays to allow parents to drop off their children and take a break while their children learn new digital and social skills.
Location: Preston, VIC
Target: 20 young people with disabilities
Duration: throughout 2013
Outcome: respite for children and carers
More information: digitalrespite.com
ABOUT THE EVERYONE CONNECTED GRANTS
In 2012, to celebrate its 10th anniversary, the Telstra Foundation made 100 Everyone Connected grants to community groups to improve digital inclusion by connecting disadvantaged children and young people to the internet, building their online skills and promoting cyber safety.