The first Space To Learn Woodland Coding for Autistic Children event took place on 18th November 2023.

It was held in Mourne Park, Kilkeel. For a review, including the materials produced for the day, please click here:

The ASC, or Autism Support Communicator is a new concept for helping those who are hesitant about sharing their emotional state, yet who enjoy working with technology. Their enthusiasm for exploring new technology in a new (outdoor, woodland) environment provides an opportunity to demonstrate how positive and negative feelings can be (literally) transmitted to those who are close.

Each child used a small circuit board called a Micro:Bit.

This programmable device is popular in schools throughout the UK, and globally. It features the ability to interact through a range of input sensors and controls; to process those inputs according to the code that is downloaded to it and to output sounds, pictures, words and radio signals.

The Space To Learn Approach:

  • Everyone is welcomed into the calm woodland setting.
  • An outdoor projector, seating area and refreshments are in place throughout. The introduction tells them about the woodland; explains what physical computing is (with demonstrations); then outlines the children’s  mission for the day.
  • Once ready each child – supported by their carer – has the opportunity to explore part of the woods. The sensory experience is encouraged: what can they see, hear and feel?
  • Having reflected together on what they thought, felt and experienced when walking through the woodland, we gather at the tables to begin to find ways to express this to the best of their ability.
  • A collection of icons and faces are pointed to to associate with certain emotions.
  • Having drawn their own happy (positive) icon and sad (negative) icon, they are ready to go back exploring in the woods. This time they are ready to display on their screen, and to transmit a signal indication to others, about how positive or negative they are feeling along the way.

The Micro:Bits now function as communicators:

Each unit both expresses their own feeling and shows them what others are feeling around them.