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.

Helping Parents Understand the Autism Educational Eligibility

Many parents are perplexed and confused about the amount of information given to them during an autism educational eligibility meeting. Professionals can do several things to help the parents through this process.

Explain Educational Terms

First, many special education terms are difficult for parents to understand. Educational professionals need to explain some of these unfamiliar terms to the parent or caregiver. An educational phrase or term may need to be defined for the parents. For instance, when the school psychologist talks about verbal and nonverbal abilities he or she could give examples of these different types of abilities to explain the terms.

Use Parent Friendly Terms

Professionals need to use parent friendly terms that parents of different educational levels can understand. A school psychologist may say the term ‘repetitive behaviors’ in an eligibility meeting. However, a parent friendly approach would be to share how a child demonstrates ‘repetitive behaviors’ like running back and forth in the testing room, opening and closing the door or continuously turning the lights on and off in the office. This helps the parent see example and understand the term in more ‘parent friendly’ language.

Provide More Time

Professional sometimes find they are talking fast to get through the large amount of information on autism and developmental delays. However, there are instances where the school psychologist and other educational professionals may need to take more time to allow parents to process the educational information. Some parents want more time to read the eligibility form even after it has been explained to them. Parents may want to read the eligibility form and other forms carefully as they reflect on the information before they put their signatures on a document or sign an autism eligibility form.

Allow Questions

There are times professionals explain the autism educational form to parents and don’t allow or give enough time for questions. Professionals can take different approaches with their educational strategies. Some educational professionals ask parents throughout the autism eligibility meeting if they have questions about the information and other professionals save time at the end of the eligibility meeting to answer any final questions. Parents want to feel comfortable about this eligibility process and providing a question time call allow them to discuss any unresolved issues or concerns about autism.

In conclusion, if professionals explain difficult educational terms, use parent friendly terms, provide more time to reflect on the process and allow questions the parents may have a better understanding of the autism eligibility process.

Living With Autism and Other Special Needs: Back to School Tips

Most parents look forward to the end of August because it is back to school time.

Back to school time for parents with children who have special needs can be a mixed blessing. Transitions and change are difficult for all children, but particularly children with autism.

Here are some tips for parents to help make back to school time more pleasant for you and your child with autism.

  1. Begin getting into the school routine early. Make a picture schedule of the morning routine and start following it. Start getting up a little bit earlier each day and going to bed earlier at night. This will make thing easier instead of waiting until the night before school starts and saying, “School is tomorrow. You need to go to bed at 8:00” when your child has been staying up until 10:00.
  2. Think twice before purchasing new school clothes. In my experience children with autism do not generally like the feeling of new clothes. To send a child to school with all new scratchy clothes might be a bit of sensory overload. Instead, consider buying used clothes or washing them several times before school starts. Encourage your child to wear his new clothes and shoes at home.
  3. Consider getting a haircut early. Some children with autism don’t like getting haircuts and if they start to associate haircuts with school it will add to their anxiety.
  4. Glasses If your child wears glasses, and he doesn’t wear them during the summer (which I don’t recommend), have him wear them at least a week prior to school starting.
  5. Read books and watch t.v. shows about going back to school.
  6. Make a social story featuring your child and read it to him every day. Social stories are helpful for children with autism because it helps them prepare for things that are going to be different. You can include photos if you wish. Here is an example:
  7. Summertime is almost over.
    Kevin is getting ready to go back to school.
    On August 24 th Kevin will ride Bus 456 to “Canyon Elementary School.”
    “Kevin’s” teachers this year are Mrs. Brown and Mrs. Jones.
    Kevin’s Dad bought him new shoes for school.
    Kevin’s Mom bought him new clothes for school.
    Kevin is getting ready to go back to school.

  8. Use a calendar to mark down the days until school starts. Put a picture of a school bus on the date of the first day of school.
  9. Make plans to meet the teacher ahead of time. For tips on meeting the teacher, read my article Meeting the New Teacher.