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Assistive Technology for Young Children in Special Education: It Makes a Difference

Technology has opened many educational doors to children with disabilities. Alternative solutions from the world of technology are accommodating physical, sensory, communication or cognitive impairments in many ways.

Assistive technology (AT) is technology used by individuals with disabilities in order to perform functions that might otherwise be difficult or impossible. For students with severe/profound, multiple disabilities, and autism, managing the basic necessities of daily life often poses many challenges. Advances in assistive technology are making a difference in these individuals' lives. AT examines interventions that are innovative and practical for ongoing use. An Assistive Technology Team (ATT) consists of specialists with backgrounds in occupational therapy, physical therapy, education and speech-language pathology. They strive to provide best practice to support the success of students with disabilities in the areas of assistive technology and augmentative and alternative communication (AAC). ATT services may include training and support for AT and AAC systems and strategies, as well as for the adaptation and modification of curriculum, materials in the classroom or school environment (ex. seating or bathroom modifications). It can include mobility devices (walkers and wheelchairs), as well as both low and high tech solutions that assist children with disabilities in accessing computers or general education materials. For example, children with limited hand function may use a pencil grip for handwriting or an adapted keyboard to use a computer. Children with speech/language impairment may use a high tech solution such as a speech generating device to communicate. The AT team works in partnership with the educational team, which includes families, to facilitate problem-solving, provide consultation and make adaptations when necessary.

The Easter Seals Linda Lanham Zeszutek Approved Private School Program provides specialized education services to children with a diagnosis of neurological impairment, cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy or along the autism spectrum. Easter Seals provides Assistive Technology Team services to our students through our in-house team consisting of an Augmentative Communication Specialist, an Occupational Therapist and a Physical Therapist.

For more information about AT and our school program, call (412) 281-7244 ext. 269.

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