Teaching skills to children with autism using animated video
- Ben le Koala
- Signes de sens
- Country of Implementation
- Western Europe
- Start Year
- First published
“Ben helps every child from 3 to 6 to reveal his talents! A wonderful coach for all kids in the spirit of Universal Design.” Simon Houriez, Founder, Signes de sens
In 2013 Signes De Sens, an NGO based in Lille, France, in collaboration with the Centre Ressources Autismes Hauts-de-France, created Ben the Koala, an educational animated character for children with disabilities aged two to six years. Activities taught include daily tasks such as brushing teeth and wearing clothes. Ben the Koala is distributed through educational videos, mobile applications, and printed materials. In 2021 the mobile application of Ben the Koala had over 27,000 active users.
Young children can find processing verbal instruction difficult, especially children with autism. Daily activities such as hygiene practices and visits to the doctor can be challenging.
Solution, Innovation and Impact
Ben the Koala is an animated character teaching young children practical tasks through videos, such as how to brush their teeth or put on their jacket. The free videos are available via a website, Google Play, YouTube, or an app, allowing parents a versatile, non-verbal way to guide their children through a daily task they would otherwise find challenging. Co-designed with families, autism professionals, and teachers, Ben the Koala’s Universal Design principles allow all young children to access this helpful teaching tool. Ben is featured in more than 30 videos, which are regularly accessed by 27,000 users per month, and via the app, which has had over 2.7 million video views on YouTube. Between 2014 and 2022 the practice has gained the recognition of five major awards for health and education, in addition to support from autism and educational organizations in France.
Funding, Outlook and Transferability
Public funding along with fundraising from individuals, companies, and foundations supports the organization’s current activities, with additional sponsorship for their latest app coming from the Polish agency, Stepwise. The organization plans to expand Ben the Koala to include kindergarten children and to further promote their skills development, as well as offer special support and guidance for parents. In addition, Signes De Sens plans to expand international access to the videos, to further develop sign language content, and to develop new printed materials.