When working with children who have unique needs, it is important to always think outside of the box. What may work for one child may not be the right fit for another student and their individual needs. Sometimes when children are placed in the least restrictive classroom, it may be helpful to have an assistive technology evaluation done.
What is Assistive Technology?
Kids with disabilities may have trouble in different areas. This could be in reading, writing, or math. Other kids may have difficulty hearing, seeing, listening in a classroom, or communicating with others. Physical, motor, and mobility limitations may also impact the way a child is able to work in a classroom. Assistive technology takes the strengths of a child and allows the technology to help them to overcome their weakness.
Assistive technology may be a device or a service for a child. High tech, low tech, and web-based items may be utilized in different manners. In addition to this, kids may be granted computer access to help with reading, writing, communication, studying, and overall learning. The key is for the person evaluating them to watch the child in the classroom and interview all involved. Together, they can come up with a plan which will help the individual child to be as successful as possible in the given classroom.
Necessary Technology in Schools
It is important to remember that assistive technology is not meant to replace a teacher. IDEA notes that assistive may include a wide variety of things. A child with a disability may require the school to assist in the selection, purchase, and use of a device. At the school level, after a device is bought, they must adapt it if needed and make sure that it is repaired and in working order. The school may also need to train the student, family, and teachers how to use it. All of this will ensure the proper use and most effective results.
When a child is given a technology device, it is important to make sure they understand why they are using it. A netbook is not to be used by a child to play games. It is often given to students to help with their writing skills if they have fine motor concerns. They may also be used to electronically organize school work and notes for a child who has executive function difficulty with traditional notes and folders. When used properly, assistive technology will make a student better able to function in their current academic environment.
No matter what is used, it is important for therapists to monitor students when they’re using the devices. Does this appear to help them? Are they more or less frustrated? Ask the child and teachers who work with them how they feel the technology is helping them. Be open to asking for additional information from the technology specialist if something is not going as smoothly as expected. They are often aware of more ways to try devices with students and how to adjust it to their needs.
How is assistive technology used for students in your school? Share how this process works in your district, along with different things that have worked for students. Do you find that families are receptive to assistive technology use or are they more skeptical? Share your comments and insights with us in the comments section below.