Sal Khan was a hedge fund manager tutoring his cousins through
distance learning. He started making them instructional videos to reinforce their learning when he couldn’t be there in
person and after a few lessons, his cousins told him that they liked him better on video. After absorbing
the shocking statement, he realized it was a back-handed compliment.
Through the use of video, his cousins could repeat what they didn’t understand without suffering embarrassment, while still having the benefit of their uncle’s warm, approachable demeanor. He started making them videos for a myriad of subjects and envisioned an entire public academy of free lessons delivered via YouTube.
That dream is now a reality in the form of the Khan Academy, which boasts 2,100 instructional videos on a range of topics, as well as ongoing assessments and test preparation courses. There’s no sign-up and no login requirements — users simply go to the Web site and start learning ( http://www.khanacademy.org ).
Children with autism naturally gravitate towards computers and online learning where the social and sensory issues of a classroom are eliminated. As a result, the Khan Academy is a great resource for parents of these children to be aware of. Although much of the information is advanced, basic arithmetic is offered and affords a perfect way to augment math learning for young children with autism. Older children with autism can find many topics to reinforce classwork, or explore their special interests.
As a mother of a high school freshman with autism, I have been forced to home schooling because his high school placement failed, so I am thrilled to discover the Khan Academy. The timing of the discovery couldn’t be more fortuitous as I was worried about the expenses associated with gathering all of the appropriate curriculum for him.
The Khan Academy even attracted the attention of Bill Gates, who sees it as the wave of the future for education. His foundation is supporting Sal Khan in his quest and is actively seeking ways of bringing his model of learning directly into the classroom.