Using Technology for Autistic Students Education Programs
It’s not news that technology is evolving and filtering into many industries and areas of life. That includes the development of more efficient education programs for children and students with autism. One significant symptom of the condition is inadequate social skill development. Thus it affects their ability to communicate effectively, and that may affect life quality.
Therefore, researchers set out to discover ways to enhance communication and aid learning for such students. They can be in the form of software applications or other forms, and we call them Assistive Technology. Nevertheless, they don’t replace the need for regular therapy, depending on the child’s needs. We’ll discuss some of the applicable ones and their beneficial effects.
Assistive Technology Tools
Assistive Technology comprises various digital tools that help students with autism. Thus, their primary function is to aid the learning and development of specific skills in these children. Such skills include language and verbal skills, social skills, non-verbal communication, and confidence. Some even help with behavioral therapy, sharpening attention, and fine motor ability.
As mentioned earlier, these innovations are available in various forms, depending on their uses. Generally, we classify them as low, mid, and high-tech based on the ease of operation. Since most of the needs of autistic students involve learning skills, the tools used are usually low to mid-tech. However, they also help in reading, writing, math, and making schedules.
That’s why these tools are essential for the education of such children. One significant benefit is that they promote customized learning experiences, making them more suited to their needs. That’s because it allows interaction while learning at a convenient pace, unlike in a regular classroom. Hence, it also helps the students gain confidence.
Various Assistive Technology for Autism
Various forms of technology exist to meet different needs. For example, even for something like air purifiers, there are many outstanding filtration systems available. Similarly, there are various assistive technology tools for autistic children. Having established the necessity and outlining the advantages of this technology application, we’ll discuss some of them.
Alternative and Augmentative Communication Tools
They consist of several tools that help to develop and expand communication skills. The thing, though, is that some people fear using these tools will interfere with normal speech development in children. However, clinical evidence and various researches prove that although they may not necessarily augment it, they don’t hinder speech progress.
Some studies also found that introducing these tools helps improve language skills. Nevertheless, it shouldn’t take the place of natural speech, so therapy is still essential. We generally classify these tools into three primary forms. They include unaided approaches using signs and gestures, picture-based systems, and speech-generating devices.
Unaided Approaches and Picture-based Learning
The unaided approach got its name from the fact that there are no devices involved in the execution. It consists of using hand signs and gestures to communicate. For example, using the key-word involves using signals to represent the essential words in a sentence. However, it’s not the regular sign language, and it doesn’t mean the child won’t learn to communicate smoothly.
What they do, instead, is use the signs while speaking. Most educators also combine it with photos to create a multi-modal communication system. The only constraint might be learning the symbols as the parents or caregivers and family should understand it. You can also include picture identification significantly to help recognition of certain gestures.
Speech Generating Devices (SGD)
These are voice output devices that mostly operate in a text-to-speech capacity. Thus, they use either computer-generated or recorded speech. That also means they require devices like smartphones, tablets, iPads, or computers. One benefit of this method is that people can readily understand the message. Also, it doesn’t require learning any specific skills outside therapy.
Unlike the unaided approaches, SGD exposes the children to the language. It can therefore help to expand existing language abilities. It also supports positive cognitive development, and you can introduce it at an early age. However, you may start with simple applications, then change to more complicated ones as they grow and learn.
Making Decisions about Assistive Technology Use
It requires getting professional opinions. Thus, an agreement amongst the parents, teachers, and therapists is necessary. That’s because it’s a joint approach; hence, no one can make isolated decisions. Consider the children and weigh the benefits with what they need. Likewise, you can also check organizations like Autism Connect MD to get more information.