Now more than ever, technology is used to help students in the classroom. Specifically, assistive technology is being used to level the playing field for students with disabilities. From communication boards made of cardboard or fuzzy felt, to special-purpose computers, to prosthetics, mounting systems, and positioning devices, to special switches, keyboards, and pointing devices, these technology devices help enhance learning in the classroom and beyond. Even with the abundance of assistive technology devices, not many parents understand the importance of these tools for their children with disabilities.
Assistive technology (AT) is defined as any item, piece of equipment, software program, or product system that is used to increase, maintain, or improve the functional capabilities of persons with disabilities (Assistive Technology Industry Association). AT can be low tech, high tech, computer hardware, computer software, specialized learning material, or any other electronic device. It is important that parents and caregivers of students with disabilities know about the AT devices available so that they can be sure that their child gets the best device suited for their needs. An AT device can be instrumental to children who have difficulty speaking, typing, writing, remembering, pointing, seeing, hearing, learning, walking, and many other things. Different disabilities require different assistive technologies.
Let’s say your child has high anxiety for writing tasks and often avoids doing their writing assignments because writing has always been difficult for them. One AT system that could be useful for them and help them with writing is word prediction. Word prediction suggests correct spellings of words after only a few letters are typed. Word prediction sometimes uses “word banks” (commonly used words in a topic area) to help kids come up with words and complete their sentences. This can help struggling writers complete sentences, start sentences, or give them ideas in the middle of a sentence to help them complete their thoughts. Instead of writing being a task that is done all alone, with word prediction, writing becomes a task that is attainable which will in turn help your child become more confident in their writing skills.
With more of an emphasis placed on common core in schools, children are required more so now to really master writing, speaking, and listening. For children with disabilities or for any child who has always struggled academically this can be a burden and create a lot of anxiety in the classroom. Rather than allow these educational skills to be a barrier to success, parents and caregivers should really be aware of the opportunities that assistive technology provides and make use of that technology in the classroom. For further questions regarding choosing the right assistive technology device or for more information regarding assistive technology in general please contact Specialized Therapy Services and let us help you.