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Students with disabilities, Supporting literacy

« Researching Scratch
3 replies [Last post]
Karen Brennan

Hi ScratchEd!

Are you an educator who...

  • has used Scratch with students with disabilities in either self-contained classrooms or inclusive settings
  • or has used Scratch to support literacy in some way
  • and would be interested in talking about your experiences?

Please let me know either via email (kbrennan at mit dot edu) or in the comments.




Jaziel Carballo Tadeo
Hi Karen and everyone, I'll start to teach five students with Asperger, I've working with scratch 2 years ago, but only six months working with kids. Is there any guide for teach Scratch for students with this spectrum?.

I'm a software engineering with a specialization in teaching and VLE.

Thank you for reading.

Jaziel Carballo.
Vicki Gold


I of course I would love to talk to you. I have just begun writing up my findings, and today I wrote this letter of introduction that you might be interested in. This is just the very beginning of my work. I will send me an email and perhaps we can talk. I want to collect statistics (hence your book) etc.

I had been a computer programmer for many years and after TA-ing at Harvard Extension, for a friend, in Distributed Java I decided to switch careers and retrain as a teacher. At the age of 53, I found my vocation. I retrained at Harvard Extension with Sue being my premier teacher while I earned my Instructional technology licensure. Six years later, I teach a Basic Programming and Game Making course, an introduction to Object Oriented/ Java course which includes a summation game component, and an AP Java Exam course at Marshfield High School. During my first year of teaching, I was fortunate to have a bright and talented student on the autistic spectrum. I immediately saw the compelling connection between students on the spectrum and computer programming.  Although programming is thought of as a solitary act, it can be the student’s first positive social experience, and indeed, can serve as a potential and viable career path.

I immediately spoke with the Marshfield School district head of Special Education, Ms. Susan Dupuis, and within minutes had an after-school Marshfield Kid’s Konnection class teaching (MIT’s Scratch programming environment) to special needs students from kids 8 to 12. In addition, I began tutoring students wanting extra guidance. My work with the students on the spectrum has been very gratifying and successful.

For six years now, I have been teaching high school computer programming classes, running private classes, and holding tutoring session, and have watched with great gratification and satisfaction students exceed all academic expectations, and enjoy social possibilities never expected from programming experiences. I am working with the Scratch team and am in the process of writing my complete findings.

Young talented autistic students find a comfort zone and interest they had not found before.  These students go from invisible students to Marshfield icons through their work that transform them into game-making super-stars.  The affordances do not stop there; the younger students that I work with Scratch discover a new medium that captures their interest in a way that is so all consuming that it is fascinating to watch.  A serious young student of 12 that I have worked with for three years best describes my work with less talented autistic students. Interestingly, his enthusiasm for Scratch is not daunted by his lack of progress or (at least my definition of progress). He has always kept his work private, and I was forbidden to post his work to my Web site. During this Scratch Day at MIT by the time I sat down, he had proudly showed his work to his father and the entire table. I was flabbergasted and delighted, walked away with the assurance that he and his dad did not need my help.

I wish I could say my efforts to get a Scratch component taught in the lower grades have been successful, but for 6 years I have advocated and been turned down by the administration. Therefore, I have chosen to put my efforts into integrating Scratch in all school Special Education units where they are more receptive, and in all honesty, where I personally get the most satisfaction.

I could go on but I think you have read quite enough already. I have two Web sites; one is for my private work at and the other is for my Marshfield High School work at

I would truly appreciate an opportunity to talk with you about my work, and the direction you think I could go.

Thank you for listening.

Vicki Gold


Jeannette Downes
 Dear Ms. Gold,

 This is so interesting. 

I am a multimedia teacher and professional developer in Queens New York.  I also work with students on the Spectrum.  Right now I am observing how 2 students on the spectrum interact with Scratch.  My study is focusing on using bogs/scartch for blogging.  e.g. Do students give feedback - click the heart?  Do they write a comment?  How much support is needed?  Scripts? Will students eventually make friends or follow specific Scartchers?

I am writing to you in hopes that you have had some experience with this aspect of using Scratch with your students on the Spectrum?  Have you focused on the "commenting" aspect of the program?  What have been your experiences.  What potential do you see?  

I look forward to hearing back from you to talk or chat online.

My phone number is 646-410-3805 and email

Many thanks,
Jeannette Downes