Educational Tools for Assisting Learners with Autism
Federal law requires every public school district to provide equal access to education for all children with disabilities at no cost to parents. Recent advances in technology afford families and educators with several exciting new tools to enhance the learning process for children with autism.
You and your child may benefit from these new technologies, and you also have the right to request that these types of tools are included and implemented as part of your child’s Individualized Education Program (IEP).
New Tools Are Available
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is the name given to a range of neurological disorders that impact the way a person learns, moves, communicates, and interacts with others. According to the CDC’s Autism and Development Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network, about one out of 44 eight-year-old children has been identified with ASD.
Children with ASD face difficulty learning in a traditional classroom setting. Digital and nondigital equipment can assist them with many important tasks, including organization, peer interaction, following instructions, and verbal and nonverbal communication.
There’s a wide range of tools for assisting children with ASD, including sophisticated audio and visual technologies. But there are also a lot of very helpful low-tech solutions such as display cards and picture boards that are available for use at home and school.
High-Tech and Low-Tech Solutions
The right mix of purposeful, meaningful learning activities can help your child improve their self-esteem, increase their access to the curriculum, and make it easier for them to demonstrate skills and competencies.
Areas where the proper tools can assist your child’s learning include:
- Social skills. Social stories are easy-to-understand visual stories that help prepare people to think and behave appropriately in different situations, such as visiting the doctor’s office, going to a party, or getting a haircut. They can also teach users how to respond to important cues such as body language, facial expressions, and tone. Cards and social skills games can also be used to help increase empathy and improve social skills. Video modeling and interactive apps help learners develop social skills in a risk-free environment.
- Verbal and nonverbal communication. Augmentative and alternative communication devices come in low-tech form such as boards with photos. Picture Exchange Communication Systems (PECS) use pictures to communicate specific tasks and experiences such as brushing your teeth. More sophisticated technology such as speech generating technology and video games can be an extremely motivating way to increase the communication abilities of verbal and nonverbal children with ASD.
- Reading. Devices that can assist with decoding and comprehension skills include audiobooks, reading windows that reduce visual distractions, slant boards to hold up books, and text-to-speech programs that read printed material aloud.
- Independence, self-care, and vocational assistance. Visual schedules help your child master their daily routine. Charts and board that contain step-by-step checklists, notes, and reminders can be very helpful. Colors, pictures, and games are effective strategies for improving executive function. Research suggests that it’s often beneficial to begin with a basic visual presentation such as line drawings and then progress to more concrete representational systems of objects and photographs.
- Sensory challenges. Children with autism may be over-responsive to stimuli such as lights, bells, and buzzers. Noise-cancelling headphones, weighted vests, tinted glasses, sensory toys, and balls can help relieve sensory-overstimulation.
Is Your Child Getting the Services They Need to Thrive?
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) requires school districts to provide Free Appropriate Public Educations (FAPE) for all students.
At Woodsmall Law Group, we serve children with special needs and their parents in Los Angeles County, focusing on the San Gabriel Valley. We have been helping families make the most out of their educational opportunities for over 18 years.
If you have any questions or concerns about your child’s placement or the services they are receiving, please call (626) 440-0028 to schedule a FREE initial consultation. We speak English, Mandarin, Cantonese, Polish, and Spanish.