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Assistive Technology

 

What is Assistive Technology?

Assistive Technology is defined as products, equipment, and systems that enhance learning, working, and daily living for children with disabilities. Assistive Technology can help improve an individual’s ability to speak, type, write, remember, point, see, hear, learn, or walk. Assistive Technology can support children who are deaf or hard of hearing, blind or visually impaired, children with speech, cognitive, or developmental disabilities, or students that require mobility assistance.

3 types of Assistive Technology: No Tech, Low Tech, High Tech

Currently, there are three types of Assistive Technology that can provide supports in the classroom. No tech forms of Assistive Technology include pencil grips, post-it-notes, slanted surfaces, raised lined paper, covered overlays, tactile letters, magnifying bars, weighted pencils, etc. Low tech forms of assistive technology could include: a talking calculator, lights, switches, electronic organizers, or a word processor. High tech Assistive Technology could include a touch screen device, computerized testing, speech recognition software, or progress monitoring software depending on the needs of your child. High tech Assistive Technology will often require assistance and guidance from a support representative from a company that offers the high tech Assistive Technology software.

What Assistive Technology is right for my child?

The choice is a decision you make with a team of professionals and consultants trained to match particular assistive technologies to the specific needs of your child. An AT team may include family doctors, special education teachers, speech-language pathologists, occupational therapists, and other specialists including representatives from companies that manufacture the assistive technology. Each professional can recommend Assistive Technology that can be implemented into your child’s daily routine to address the areas of difficulty. Trials may be completed to ensure your child is given the best form of Assistive Technology to best suit their current needs and demands of the classroom and home environment.

What can Assistive Technology do for my child?

Assistive Technology approaches allow children to use their abilities to work around their challenges. At home, AT can assist a child in daily routines and activities, social skills, behavior, sensory, communication, and literacy skills. In the classroom, the use of Assistive Technology can increase a child’s ability to independently complete their schoolwork without relying on teachers or parents to assist them. Assistive Technology targets all skills from physical impairments to cognitive disabilities. Listening, Math, Reading, Writing, Organization, or Memory are all areas that can be addressed to increase the success of an individual student. AT in the school setting can also address difficulties with alternative keyboards, audio books, electronic math worksheets, graphic organizers, personal FM listening systems, talking calculators, speech-recognition programs, and proofreading programs. Every AT type is designed and implemented to ensure each child is an independent and successful as possible.

How do I get Assistive Technology for my child?

If your child is under 3 years of age and has an Individual Family Service Plan (IFSP), talk with your service coordinator about Assistive Technology for your child. If your child is 3 or older and has an Individualized Education Program (IEP), talk with your case manager about assistive technology for your child. Your IFSP/IEP team can suggest how AT might help and discuss examples of potential technology to try. If your child receives therapy in the outpatient or school setting you can always discuss AT options with your child’s therapist or teacher in the classroom. Assistive Technology is a tool that a child may use for a short time or a lifetime depending on their current needs.

Casey Bonsett M.A., CCC-SLP