Assistive Technology refers to any kind of equipment or product that you purchase or customize yourself in order to increase functioning in children with disabilities, including autism, according to the Technology-Related Assistance for Individuals with Disabilities Act of 1988. According to Susan Stokes, an autism consultant, autistic children generally respond better to visual stimuli than to auditory devices so most assistive technology devices help them process them information visually, or in conjunction with an auditory device.
Autistic children need assistive technology devices to help them communicate better both at home and in the classroom. Different devices will teach them how to express their wants and desires, which not only improves their social skills, but makes them feel more independent and confident as well.
Visual Representation Systems
Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS) still remains the most prominent visual communication technique for autistic children with almost no language skills, according to Autism Speaks. While a formalized training and manual is available through Pyramid Products, parents and teachers may create their own binder of pictures from catalogs, the Internet or newspapers. During the beginning phases, caregivers work with the child to demonstrate that if he hands you a card of a cookie, he will be rewarded with one. During later phases, at snack time, he may have three cards--a cookie, pretzels and a red apple, and he has to hand you the one he wants for a snack.
Speech Generating Devices
Speech Generating Devices (SGDs) refer to the several types of voice output devices, designed to help those who struggle with speech. SGDs range from simple, short voice messages to computers, complete with several complex messages. SGDs help caregivers and children both because they do not need to learn a picture system; they just need to listen to the spoken message. Some SGDs come with a visual display that will show a symbol or picture of what they are discussing to make it easier for the child. More complex ones allow children to type their requests into a device, and it is spoken out loud for the caregiver.
According to Missouri Assistive Technology Advisory Council, a combined intervention of low-technology techniques like sign language and PECS and SGDs will improve the child’s communication skills. While the child may not communicate naturally, she will develop skills to converse at a functional level. Some children may feel like the SGDs are fun since looks and functions like a normal laptop and makes them feel less stigmatized.
Computer Assistive Technology
In addition to the SGD software, autistic children may benefit from some specific computer software and hardware. Some children have difficulty using their hands frequently so fixing their computer with a touch screen monitor, where they would not have to roll a mouse around, may be helpful. You may also want to add certain programs such as a talking word processor that offers spoken feedback or a text to speech program where the child types something to be transformed to audio form.
Downlad Text to Speech Software
Learn more about FlameReader