ZAC is a web browser specifically designed for children with autism, and autism spectrum disorders such as Asperger syndrome, Fragile X Syndrome, (PDD), and PDD-NOS.
The simple graphic, interactive interface provides four main content areas: Television, Games, Music, and Stories. The browser’s emphasis is on linking to educational and fun games, activities and videos. Ease of use is further enhanced by cutting out extraneous elements such as right clicking; helping to reduce sensory overload and possible frustration.
Adult content is blocked to ensure safe browsing. The browser links to specific pages on sites such as Sesame Street, Disney and PBS Kids and it is not possible to follow any links (including the websites internal links) from these pages. I can see the necessity of this although my son found it a little frustrating not being able to access other games and activities on the site he was on, at least when he first started using the browser. From my perspective I do not mind this. I find it does keep him on task as he would normally be inclined to flit from link to link without concentrating on anything for very long.
ZAC was developed by John LeSieur based on the needs of his autistic grandson, Zackary, and is still in beta stage. (The name is also an acronym for Zone for Autistic Children). John LeSieur was also involved in the development of d the Kid CD browsers aimed at children and teenagers.
ZAC Browser’s forum provides a way for parents and caregivers to communicate and share stories, challenges and successes.
ZAC may not suit all children in the Autism Spectrum Disorder range, because of their varying abilities, and needs, but it is the only free resource of its kind and I give it a thumbs up. Its use is not restricted to those children with special needs but is a program suited to all young children.
I have installed ZAC on my PC too – well, I had to research the program myself before writing a review.- so please excuse me now while I carry on researching. I am up to level 3 on Higglytown Higgly Ball 🙂
- I just read an interesting interview with John LeSieur on about.com where he talks about ZAC.
- There is also a Zac Search Engine that includes links to Autism Resources and sites
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