The Optimist

Assistive technology benefits

Kaiya Norris, Staff Writer

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Assistive technology is a term used to describe devices that help people with disabilities accomplish everyday tasks. This form of technology not only includes speaking boards and hearing aids, but tablets, canes, and pencil grips as well. People with physical and mental disabilities are able to communicate, learn, and interact more easily with technological assistance. Assistive technology benefits those affected by numerous disabilities and impairments including (but not limited to) ADD, ADHD, Parkinson’s Disease, Alzheimer’s, ALS, and ASD.

What is Autism Spectrum Disorder, ASD?

ASD is a developmental disorder which impacts the nervous system and impairs the ability to communicate and interact. The range and severity of symptoms can vary widely. Symptoms include difficulty with communication, difficulty with social interactions, obsessive interests and repetitive behaviors. ASD is not curable, but early recognition and therapies (occupational, behavioral, physical) can increase development.

What is assistive technology?

Over the past few years, technology has advanced to help both adults and children on the ASD spectrum better communicate and interact with others. Assistive technology is used to support communication for people with ASD, no matter their speech abilities. There are multiple forms of assistive technology, like Augmentative and Alternative Communication. AAC branches out into numerous types of alternative communication. For example, unaided alternative communications could involve sign/body language. Whereas aided alternative communications can range anywhere from a pencil and paper to speech and language boards or smart devices. Aided AAC uses tactile interactions like gestures, body language, eye movement tracking, photographs, drawings etc.

How is someone considered “eligible” to use AAC?

Evaluations of a person’s abilities consist of motor, language, cognitive and visual skills. The person’s family is also required to give a statement of the person’s behaviors at home. Past studies have shown that AAC use does not obstruct the speech development, and may result in an increase in speech production with proper treatment.


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Assistive technology benefits