Monday, April 2, 2012

Technologies that Can Help Your Autistic Child

So much of our communication with each other is done through the computer, cell phones, and text messaging. Technology has enhanced our abilities to connect with one another, and lots of us prefer it to more traditional means of communicating. For people who have difficulty socializing due to some type of disorder or disability, like autism, advancements in technology can help make things a little easier. If you have an autistic child, there are lots of assistive technologies out there that can help them in many different areas of life. Here are some examples.

iPad Apps

Portal tablet computers with touch screens can be great tools for autistic kids. Especially in the classroom, iPads can help your child communicate with their teachers and peers, complete assignments, and augment lessons. Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) apps help autistic children and other people with speaking disabilities to communicate by letting them tap a picture of the message they want to send, typing their message, and more. One such app is called Proloquo2Go.
There are lots of other iPad apps that are designed for children with autism, and others that aren’t specifically for autism but are still very helpful to those with the disorder. Scheduling, behavior management, and vocabulary apps are some examples. The website iAutism.info has a list of apps that your child may benefit from.
Computer Software

There are other software programs designed to help autistic children that your child can use at home. They can help with learning social skills, practicing vocabulary, and much more. One of the most popular software programs used by speech therapists and autism coaches is Picture This. This program helps your child with thousands of words through simple pictures. You can create custom flash cards and even upload your own photos. There are lots of additional photo packs you can purchase for Picture This, including School Routines and Rules, which will help your child learn proper school behavior and functions.
AAC Devices

You don’t need an iPad to offer your child AAC technology. There are lots of AAC devices available that are small, lightweight, and run on battery power, which your child can use to communicate in any situation. Some examples include the Pathfinder by the Prentke Romich Company and the Maestro by DynaVox Tech, a company that offers a variety of devices for people with autism.
Video and Digital Cameras

You can also turn your basic, at-home technology into assistive technology for your child with autism. Make use of your digital camera, for example, to take pictures that can be used to illustrate a variety of things to your child, such as certain words or a routine. Your video camera can also be used to create video of routines, procedures, social interactions, and other processes that your child needs help with. Even simple things, like a whiteboard displaying a schedule or a reminder, are considered assistive technology. A basic tape recorder can also be used to record verbal cues and instruction to help your child throughout the day or at school.
Taylor Williams is a psychology student at the University of North Texas with a passion for writing and giving advice. She is obsessive about her work and often refuses to let anyone near it without first proofing it with a grammar checker. In her free time she loves to pack her friends into her Nissan and drive down to the coast.