Autism and Assistive Technology

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a newly popularized term that includes a wide range of social impairments, communication deficits, and repetitive behaviors. The spectrum is flexible which means that it can be applied to children from both ends. It includes high functioning autism at one end, to those who lack communication abilities and can’t even express their most basic demands, at the other.

The new explicit spectrum thinking has given at least an illusion that there’s a fixed boundary regarding autism. The perspective-taken to the logical extreme-means an unbroken continuum among the minds that extends from autism, all the way into the folds of the normal world.

But the flexibility has led to ambiguity, particularly in the classroom. Most of the educators and instructors are not at all equipped to give the students the attention they require. They are thus increasingly turning to assistive technology, like autism apps for education, to bail them out.

Many children, whether autistic or neuro-typicals, learn from visual media and educational apps like “Just Match” and “Math on the Farm”. Educators and instructors say that these apps reflect real-life relationships and situations.

With the advent of the “Just Match” and “Math on the Farm” educational apps, teachers have become more comfortable in using technology. With customized educational apps now available for download online, it’s now easier for teachers and educators to access these technologies.

Most teachers, over the years, have become comfortable in using technology. As of now, there are two major types of assistive technologies for those having autism spectrum disorder. These are communication technologies and teaching technologies. Both these tools are extremely important for a special needs child’s education. The “Just Match” and “Math on the Farm” educational apps are perfect digital learning devices that lend autistic children a comfortable learning experience. A student’s ability to communicate in a classroom setting is important for his/her success. But the tricky thing about a classroom is that there are several unspoken rules. Educators and experts working with special needs children admit that one of the major difficulties, even for those having high-functioning autism, is to know the expectations.

Professionals working with children having behavioral disorders have voiced largely similar sentiments. A big part of attending school is to learn navigating social situations. Autistic children are often totally lost sans a roadmap. The autism apps for education have allowed children to close the gap between them and the neuro-typical kids.

Apps Are Playing a Major Role in Autism Education

Children who have developmental disorders, like autism, usually find it troublesome to recognize emotions and social cues. Autism apps like “Make Sentences” and “All Sorts!” can be of a major help to such children. These apps are programmed with voice and interactive response software and help autistic children to construct sentences and differentiate one object from another. Experts and researchers believe that these apps could be of immense help to autistic kids because they help focus on a single aspect of communication at a time, and then react according to the situation. The “Make Sentences” and “All Sorts!” autism education apps never overwhelm the child with multiple forms of communication. Introducing autism education apps at the right age will help the child become independent at the right time.

Both the “Make Sentences” and “All Sorts!” autism apps can be personalized. The can be changed according to the individual needs of the child. The educational apps help autistic children follow directions and bolster communication by instilling confidence.

The inclusion of technology in special education methods is already underway. Progress, however, is being carried out in steps and not in leaps. There’s still a lot of advancement need to be made. Technology in autism education, like the apps, can help students build confidence and attain academic and extra-curricular success. For students with special needs, it’s critical to usher in an emotional and social learning function into the mix. For instance, while using a technological learning device connected to an app, a teacher will be in a much better position to customize the learning plan which includes social, intellectual, and emotional learning. A child may face trouble to complete the daily tasks all by himself/herself. The autism apps will provide options for the answer to a question. The child can then match the nearest option and finish the task.

The “Make Sentences” and “All Sorts!” autism apps rely on teaching a child through games. The learning sessions are completely interactive. They are loaded with colorful icons and voice commands. A voice warns when a child selects a wrong option. Similarly, when a right option is chosen, the child is awarded with badges that help him/her go to the next level. The main aim of these apps is to make education fun. These simple gaming activities help autistic children further their education.

Both the “Make Sentences” and “All Sorts!” autism apps are frequently updated so that the special needs children can tackle fresh challenges.

Learning Apps Helping Autistic Kids in Education

Children with autism spectrum disorder find it difficult to process events that involve the use of the five senses. They are often uncomfortable with strong smells, loud noise, and even new clothing. The main reason for this is that their sensory perceptions are not like neuro-typical human beings. The sooner the parents of autistic children come to terms with this, the better will be the counseling and therapeutic measures.

Fortunately many companies have come up with learning apps that are helping autistic children in their education. Autism learning apps like “What’s the Expression” and “Make Sentences” have made a huge impact in the lives of autistic children. These two learning apps help in the sensory processing. They have appealing sounds and graphics that capture the child’s attention and helps in taking decisions.

Technology improving lives

Innovative technology, like the autism learning apps, has improved the lives of special needs children to a great extent. Apps like “What’s the Expression,” “Make Sentences”, and others are helping in language skills, response skills, and more importantly in communication. There are various free autism apps as well. Some have a minimum download charge.

In many special needs classrooms across the world, teachers are freely using tablets and iPads to impart education to their students. These gadgets run the autism learning apps and are often used in small groups of children for improving their social interaction. Individual students, on their part, enjoy using iPads and smart phones for improving their reading, mathematics and communication skills.

The “What’s the Expression” and “Make Sentences” autism learning apps can be included in the individualized education plan (IEP) of an autistic child. The developers of these two apps conduct regular workshops for educating parents and teachers about using technology for their autistic children.

The need for technology

Technology has emerged as an essential part of the lives of children with autism spectrum disorder. But many schools don’t have a dedicated teacher who can exclusively teach special needs students. The “What’s the Expression” and “Make Sentences” autism learning apps have proved that success can be achieved by autistic children if technology is used at a proper age. The predictive and interactive nature of these autism apps is what attracts autistic children the most. They have been helpful both in the classroom and at home.

The moot challenge, however, is to make parents and educators aware that such an app exists. The autism app companies are doing their bit in this regard. But even then, much still needs to be done.

5 IDEA Requirements for Independent Evaluations at Public Expense

Are you the parent of a child with autism or a learning disability that needs an Independent Educational Evaluation (IEE), to determine their educational needs or services? Have you heard that parents can ask special education personnel in their school district to pay for an IEE at public expense? This article will discuss the 5 IDEA (the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) requirements for an IEE at public expense.

1. IDEA 300.502 under (b) (1) states that parents “Have the right under this part to obtain an independent educational evaluation at public expense if the parent disagrees with the evaluation obtained by the public agency.”

2. Special education personnel may ask why you disagree with their evaluation, but they cannot require you to give an explanation of what you disagree with. In fact I recommend not telling them what you disagree with, because they may try and limit the IEE.

3. IDEA 300.502 (b) (2) states “that if a parent requests an independent educational evaluation at public expense, the public agency must without unnecessary delay either; 1. File for a due process hearing to show that its evaluation is appropriate, or 2. Ensure that an independent educational evaluation is provided at public expense. . .”

4. IDEA 300.502 (5) (e) states “If an IEE is at public expense, the criteria under which the evaluation is obtained, including the location of the evaluation and the qualifications of the examiner, must be the same as the criteria that the public agency uses when it initiates an evaluation, to the extent those criteria are consistent with the parent’s right to an IEE.” Many school districts try and put a lot of criteria on parents for IEE’s at public expense. For Example: geographic, cost, name of evaluator must be on a list etc.

5. Except for the criteria in 4 above, school districts may not impose other conditions or timelines on the IEE at public expense.

The Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) has stated, that school districts may develop criteria for IEE’s at public expense; with these two exceptions.

a. The school district cannot make criteria, that prevent the parent from getting an IEE at public expense. For Example: If you live in a small town, with no available evaluators, and your district states that the evaluation must be done within 30 miles; it would be impossible for you to find an evaluator. Or the special education personnel make the cost so low that you cannot find anyone to evaluate your child. This may prevent you from getting the IEE at public expense, so stand up to special education personnel.

b. School districts must allow parents, to prove that their child’s circumstances are unique, and require a waiver of the criteria. For Example: If you feel that your child needs to be seen by a Clinical Psychologist, the cost is probably going to be more than a psychologist would charge. If you can prove unique circumstances, why your child needs to be evaluated by a Clinical Psychologist, then the school district is supposed to pay for the Clinical Psychologist. Whether a school district is willing to do that, without a due process hearing, depends on your school district.

Remember any criteria that a school district makes for an IEE at public expense must not prevent the parent from getting the IEE; and they must allow for waiver of criteria if the child’s circumstances require it. A good independent evaluation can benefit your child by determining their disabilities or educational and related service needs.