How Assistive Technology Can Help Your Child with a Disability Develop Independence?Sep 20, 2022
If you are raising a child with a disability, you will want to read this blog! We will explore how Assistive technology (AT) can be a valuable tool to help them live more independently. We want our kids to be learning skills that will give them independence now and in the future.
Many families are not aware of all the different ways that AT can help your child, especially when it comes to executive function. You can use the information found in this blog to develop meaningful IEP goals with your child's IEP team. In addition, you can get an AT evaluation from the school if your child has an IEP; you can then use that information to develop goals and accommodations for your child.
Let's start with what is assistive technology (AT)
As defined by the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA), assistive technology is 'any item, piece of equipment or product system, whether acquired commercially off the shelf, modified, or customized, that is used to increase, maintain, or improve the functional capabilities of children with disabilities.' In other words, assistive technology helps children with disabilities in their daily activities.
At every IEP meeting, AT should be considered. In addition, you (the parent) can request an AT evaluation if you feel it is needed. AT evaluation can look at reading, writing, spelling, math, studying/organization, oral communication, AAC devices, activities of daily living, recreation and leisure, and seating, positioning, and mobility. AT could help your child access their education in new ways that could increase their independence and confidence.
What are executive function skills? Executive function skills are the mental skills that we use to plan, organize, and complete tasks. They are important for everyday tasks like getting dressed, bathing and brushing teeth. For children with disabilities, executive function skills can be a challenge.
Advancements in technology have led to the development of Assistive Technology (AT) devices that can help individuals with disabilities live more independently. AT devices range from low-tech items such as adapted utensils and magnifiers to high-tech items such as talk-to-text and speech-generating devices (AAC devices).
One of the newest and most popular AT devices is the Amazon Echo, a voice-activated speaker that can control various smart devices in your home. The Echo can also be used to play music, look up information on the internet, and much more. You can even program your child's communication device to give Alexa instructions.
Yes, that’s the same Alexa, the voice-activated assistant in Amazon’s Echo devices. However, she can do more than answer questions and play music. She can also help with time management, staying on task, and keeping track of important information.
Assistive Technology (AT) can greatly support people with Autism, ADHD, and Learning disabilities. It can provide structure and support to help with executive function. Here are five ways that Alexa can help with executive function:
1. She can be a verbal reminder of what needs to be done.
2. She can provide a step-by-step guide on how to do tasks.
3. She can help with time management by setting timers and alarms.
4. She can help with organization by keeping track of tasks and appointments.
5. She can provide encouragement and motivation.
For many people, Alexa is a helpful tool that makes their lives easier. But for those with disabilities, Alexa can be a true lifesaver.
Here are five ways Alexa can be used as an AT device:
1. Alexa can help you with daily tasks by providing reminders and adding items to your to-do list.
2. You can ask Alexa to play music, listen to the news, or answer questions.
3. Alexa can control your smart home devices, so you can turn on the lights, adjust the thermostat, and lock your doors without having to do it yourself physically.
4. You can use Alexa to make hands-free phone calls or send messages.
5. If you need assistance, you can always ask Alexa to call 911 for you.
Alexa is just one example of how technology can help those with disabilities be independent. There are many other voice assistants and apps available.
If you or someone you know could benefit from these supports, be sure to check out Alexa and share this blog post with them. I know that Alexa is personally helping me give my son the tools he needs to grow in his independence. We are using it for daily alarms and reminders to help him stay on task in the mornings and get to the bus on time.
Also, please download Five Questions to Ask at The IEP Meeting- This is a free resource for families.
I hope you found this blog helpful; if you have any IEP questions, please reach out.