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June 2011



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Assistive technology devices are simple or advanced devices that can help in improving the quality of life of those suffering from disabilities. In this article, we will look into the types of assistive technology for autism and the benefits of using assistive technology for autistic individuals.

The term ‘assistive technology’ refers to devices or products that are used for maintaining or improving the functional capabilities of people suffering from physical disabilities or developmental disorders. The development of a wide range of computer devices for the physically challenged has made the lives of people with disabilities much better. These devices have given them access to the vast information that is available on the web pages.


There are various types of disabilities that can affect children and adults, and the nature of the disability one may be suffering from needs to be considered while selecting an assistive technology device. Individuals diagnosed with any condition that is classified under the autism spectrum disorders, have impaired communication and often find it hard to relate to others and form relationships, which is why, augmentative communication devices can certainly help such individuals communicate in a better way. The main objective behind using such devices is to improve the communication skills of autistic children and help them become self-reliant. In this article, we would look at some of the common types of assistive technology for autism.

The Need for Assistive Technology for Autistic Children
Before I tell you more about the assistive technology devices for autistic children, let me give you a brief overview on autism. Autism is a developmental disorder that develops in early childhood. Classic autism, Asperger’s syndrome, atypical autism, Rett’s syndrome and childhood disintegrative disorder are all developmental disorders that are grouped under the autism spectrum disorders. Autism is characterized by impaired social interaction and repetitive behavior patterns. Such children are unable to relate to others, and understand their perspective. They often end up being friendless due to their inability to express themselves or reciprocate. Children affected by autism often face problems in acquiring language skills. Since autistic children often face difficulty while learning languages and are unable to react properly in social situations, there is a great need to find ways to help them learn. This is where assistive technology for autism comes into picture. There are various types of devices that can help such children learn to communicate better. Given below is some information on the wide range of assistive technology devices for autistic children.

Types of Assistive Technology for Autism
Visual representation systems have often proved helpful in helping such autistic children acquire language and social skills. Objects, photographs or drawings are often used so as to help the child identify objects or persons. Picture Exchange Communication System is one such simple augmentative communication tool that can help autistic children. These are a stack of picture cards that are bound together. These picture cards may contain pictures explaining the child’s daily routine or the activities the child needs to perform. Since autistic children may have trouble maintaining eye contact, through these visual cues, the child can get a basic idea about things that must be remembered. Similarly, the child can also use visual cues or picture cards to tell others what he/she wants to say. Once the child grows older, simple battery-operated devices such as voice output communication devices, tape recorders or projectors can be used for improving the child’s communication skills.

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