For those of you who missed their fairly short ad campaign, Google recently announced Project Spectrum, an outreach program and visual curriculum geared specifically towards kids with autism. Here’s a blog entry from the SketchUp blog posted last Friday explaining their ideas in better detail.
The Project Spectrum front page says they were getting lots of feedback about their SketchUp software upon it’s original release two years ago, particularly from parents of autistic kids.
“We learned that people with autism tend to be visually and spatially gifted—that, in fact, they think in pictures. When people with these gifts get their hands on powerful, easy-to-use 3D design software like SketchUp, sparks tend to fly.”
Google is not very clear on how Project Spectrum is different than just a repurposing of Sketchup, and essentially an advertisement campaign for the product. Maybe simply “we’ve added a lesson plan!”
But moving away from the cynicism, the fact that Google is acknowledging an audience with learning disabilities, or even simply different learning sytles, and reaching out to them and providing them tools that might help them is awesome. The designs kids are coming up with are really cool too, and anything that disspells stereotypes or misconceptions about autism should get attention and praise, so long as it’s done well.
(Just as an FYI, a lot of these different projects are tied to the group Autism Speaks, which has some good information about autism, if you’re interested.)