It is not necessary to request membership to this wiki to be able to read and use the information it contains. Joining a wiki means that you will have editing privileges and be able to add and delete information. If you wish to join this wiki, please contact me with a description of your role and why you wish to join. Regards, Marguerite.

Please visit the companion wikispace R4ATandAutism for more information about students with autism spectrum disorder and strategies and tools that may assist in their education.

Assistive Technology for Students with ASD

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004, or IDEIA, is a federal statute that protects the right of students with disabilities to receive appropriate education services from public school districts. Special education programs in the public schools must comply with the IDEIA. This statute defines the terms "assistive technology device" and "assistive technology service," and contains specific requirements for districts with respect to the provision of AT.

The IDEIA defines the terms "assistive technology device" and "assistive technology service." These definitions were taken, almost word-for-word, from the Technology-Related Assistance for Individuals with Disabilities Act of 1988, the statute in which Congress first guaranteed the availability of AT for Americans with disabilities. During Congress' reauthorization of the IDEIA in 1990, lawmakers added the definitions to the IDEIA, as well.

The term "AT device" is defined by the IDEIA as: "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."

The term "AT service" is defined by the IDEIA as: "any service that directly assists a child with a disability in the selection, acquisition, or use of an assistive technology device." The IDEIA regulations go on to list specific services that are AT services, including (in part) evaluation, acquiring AT devices, repairing and replacing AT devices, using therapies with AT devices, and training and technical assistance for a child with a disability and for professionals providing services.

These definitions of AT are very broad, and therefore, almost any type of technical device or service related to a technical device that is used to address the educational needs of a student with a disability is considered AT. The sophistication of the technology of AT varies, and the broad definition of AT includes lite-tech devices such as pencil grips as well as complex high-tech computer hardware and software programs. Any services that are provided to assist a student to acquire or use any device in the broad range of AT devices are considered AT services.

For years, different modes of technology have been used to improve the quality of life of people wth various developmental disabilities. This has been true for children with ASD, however, technology use in the classroom has tended to be simple access to games or access to the World Wide Web for these children to engage in online activities or access materials that focus on their individual areas of high interest, and little to no attention has been given to using technology to increase or improve skills for these students.

Typically, children with autism process visual information more easily than auditory information. Anytime we use assistive technology devices with these children, we're giving them information through their strongest processing area (visual.) Therefore, various types of technology, from lite-tech to high-tech, should be incorporated into every aspect of daily living to improve the functional capabilities of children with autism.

This wiki was created to investigate and catalog various modes of technology, including technology designed as an augmentative and alterrnative communication (AAC) system, which may be used for students with ASD to increase or improve their skills in several areas, including:
  • overall understanding of their environment
  • expressive and receptive communication skills
  • motor skills
  • sensory issues
  • social interaction skills
  • attention skills
  • motivation skills
  • organization skills
  • academic skills
  • overall independent daily functioning skills

Information in this wiki comes from:

  • Assistive Technology Supports for Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Wisconsin Assistive Technology Initiative, 2009.
  • Pierangelo, R., Giuliani, G. (2008).Teaching Students with Autism Spectrum Disorders. Thousand Oaks, CA:Corwin Press.
  • Cafiero, J. (2005). Meaningful Exchanges For People With Autism: An Introduction To Augmentative & Alternative Communication. Bethesda, MD: Woodbine House.

This Wiki will outline various suggestions in several areas that people living and working with students with ASD must take into consideration. Various assistive technology tools and strategies that may assist in these areas are discussed within each category. None are specifically endorsed.