The UEFA Foundation for Children supports applied research projects designed to improve communication and education for autistic children in Europe.
In 2015, the foundation’s board of trustees decided to award its entire annual solidarity fund of €1m to the International Foundation of Applied Disability Research (FIRAH). FIRAH works in close cooperation with a number of partners, particularly universities in various European countries and national and international associations for autistic children and their families.
The foundation’s financial support for FIRAH will last for four years but has already made it possible to develop a project entitled ‘çATED pour tes dents’ (çATED for your teeth). The independence of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), notably regarding their oral health, is a specific research domain and an important real-life issue for families and professionals.
The çATED app was developed by researchers, engineers, professionals and parents of autistic children. It enables the children to be more independent and more confident and to organise themselves so they can complete their daily tasks. A visual timetable provides a representation of the day that the children can fill in themselves with their parents, organising and adapting it according to their needs and how they do things. This customisation makes it easier for the child to take charge.
The app also makes it possible to break a complex task down into simpler sub-tasks, making it easier for children to learn how to brush their teeth, and helps them to integrate doing so into their daily routine after each meal.
The app also makes it easier to prepare for and carry out one-off tasks that could cause anxiety, such as going to the dentist.
The çATED pour tes dents project is led by the University of Nantes in cooperation with the disability organisations ADAPEI 44, Agir et Vivre l’autisme and Chrysalide de l’Être.
A series of videos providing more information about the project and how people can use the app in their daily lives is available on the çATED pour les dents YouTube channel
Three new research projects were chosen in 2016 and are about to start. The projects are:
- The development of an evidence-based practice evaluation tool to support technologies linked to ASD.
- The development of a software program that involves training, cooperative social interaction and motor learning, with the objective of developing children’s social, interaction and cooperation skills.
- e-GOLIAH, a project providing digital games that help children improve their joint attention and imitation skills, two abilities that are key for their first social interactions and communication. This project involves a more natural way of taking action, as it focuses on children under five and is used at home with the involvement of the children’s parents.