Advances in technology in the last decade have made a plethora of resources available at our fingertips. It seems that every family has access to smartphones, tablets, laptops, or other devices that can connect to the internet and store apps that can be useful learning tools. Solstice Behavioral Health and Consulting wants parents and children to embrace assistive technology as a tremendous learning resource that can supplement your child’s efforts at school and during ABA therapy.
What is assistive technology?
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a developmental disorder that causes people to behave, communicate, interact and learn differently from most other people. The abilities of children with autism vary widely, from advanced conversational skills to entirely nonverbal skills. Symptoms of ASD often include difficulty communicating with others and responding to behavior. These symptoms can make it difficult for children with ASD to express themselves and form and maintain relationships.
Assistive technologies can be used to support and improve communication for people with autism, regardless of their verbal abilities. Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) is a specific type of assistive technology that benefits people with autism of all ages by promoting independence, expanding communication, and increasing social interaction. Some of these tools include communication boards and devices such as picture exchange communication systems.
5 Tech Tools For Children With Autism
1. Communication Boards
If your child has difficulty speaking, it may be helpful to offer alternatives. A communication board is a board with pictures, illustrations, or symbols that allow children to express themselves simply by pointing to an object. While traditional boards are made of cardboard with graphic cutouts, modern solutions include smartphone apps or digital communication boards. Using a phone or tablet to download a communication board that has audio can also help children become more comfortable with verbal communication including listening and speaking.
2. Using a Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS)
A Picture Exchange Communication System is very similar to a communication board. However, it adds a few more possibilities including questions, thoughts, requests, and feelings. The goal of using the PECS system is not verbal communication, but rather it is a communication-building tool that nonverbal children can use to communicate. When children are fluently using a PECS, it is common that they become more open to other strategies and tools for communication including flashcards and verbal or physical cues.
3. GPS or Bluetooth Tracking
Wandering off or running away is a common problem with children with ASD. A study published by the American Academy of Pediatrics found that 49% of parents reported that their child had wandered off at least once after the age of 4. Of those, 24% were in danger of drowning and 65% were in danger of traffic injury. Tracking devices can be extremely helpful in preventing accidents that your child may not understand.
Tracking devices can include “Find My ____” abilities in cellphones or tablets or can be specific devices attached to their backpacks, clothes, and even their shoes. Many of these devices include proximity notifications that only alert you if your child is a certain distance away from you. It is peace of mind for a busy household or when traveling for the holidays in interesting new locations that can spark curiosity in your little one.
4. Learn and Explore Online
Using online searches, resources, and videos, you and your child can explore caves, mountains, oceans, and more from the comfort of your own home. Most local libraries have online access to books and videos to support interactive learning. YouTube has been a game-changer for many industries, but especially for education. Search videos of specific interests, modeling, communication, and American Sign Language (ASL). Under adult supervision, you and your child can get in-depth information about what your child is studying at school or support their communication or living skills.
Solstice Behavioral Health and Consulting has served New Haven County, CT for over 20 years and is dedicated to providing resources to every family. Our dedicated team of specialists practices various communication techniques to find the best way to reach your child and improve understanding on both sides of the conversation. Along with the successful application of ABA Therapy, your child will have the tools and techniques to improve their communication and build the confidence and skills to create friendships and beyond. Call (203) 900-4720 to see how your child can succeed with our support.