Assistive Technology is an ‘umbrella term’ that includes assistive, adaptive and rehabilitative devices for differently abled persons. An assistive device is an item, piece of equipment, software or product system that is used to increase, maintain or improve the functional capabilities of a differently abled individual. These devices help in improving their functional independence and quality of life.
Children with Autism usually find it easier to process visual information as compared to auditory information. Hence, assistive technology is aimed at enhancing their abilities by means of their strongest processing area, i.e. visual.
Assistive Devices and Technologies are used to improve:
- Overall understanding of their environment
- Expressive communication skills
- Social interaction skills
- Attention skills
- Motivation skills
- Organization skills
- Academic skills
- Self-help skills
- Overall independent daily functioning skills
Assistive devices can be divided into three categories Low tech, Medium tech and High tech devices
"Low" Technology Assistive Devices:
Low tech devices include devices with low cost and easy to use equipment. They include devices to improve visual strategies.
Example: Modified pencils, adaptive paper, dry erase boards, clipboards, laminated photographs, highlight tape, etc.
Adaptive or Highlighter Paper
Image Courtesy: Gurusekolah
Image Courtesy: Worldtohome
"Mid" Technology Assistive Devices:
These devices include simple electronic devices. Mid technology devices are typically battery-operated devices which include simple switches.
Example: Voice output devices, tape recorder, Language Master, overhead projector, timers, calculators, etc
"High" Technology Assistive Devices:
These are expensive devices with complex technological support strategies. These devices require higher level of maintenance.
Examples: Tablets, applications to improve communication, video cameras, computers and adaptive hardware, complex voice output devices, etc.