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Assistive Technology for Autism Spectrum Disorders
Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) can benefit from the use of Assistive
Technology (AT). Through the use of AT, the user can become less dependent on caregivers for
prompts. This fosters greater independence and success.
Although "paper" schedules are beneficial, many individuals will perform
better when there is also a paired voice prompt. Use simple communication buttons, such as the Talk
About! to create" talking" visual schedules. Velcro pictures or objects to each button and place the buttons
in the order in which tasks should be completed. Velcro the buttons to a wall, table, or other surface.
If you need a portable, inexpensive voice output visual schedule, Velcro the Talk About! buttons to a Talk
n Tote Board.
Sample "talking" visual schedule (place pictures on buttons and record a message on each button):
Morning arrival: "I will put my lunchbox in my cubby."
Morning free time: "I will play with blocks."
Morning activity: "I will set on the red carpet for reading time."
Center Based Tasks
Use communication buttons to record the directions for each center's activity. If the task is a simple one,
you could record the instructions on one button. If the task is more complicated (multi-step) considering
recording each step of the directions on a Little Step-by-Step. Each time the button is pressed, the next
step will be spoken out loud for the user. Or a series of individual communication buttons could be used.
Use Time Trackers at each center to provide visual cues for time remaining.
Melt Down Redirection
Individuals with ASD often find it difficult to transition from one activity to another. Using visual schedules
is helpful in these transitions. But a visual cue before a task is coming to an end allows these individuals
time to "gear up" for a change. Using a visual timer such as the Time Tracker gives individuals with ASD
cues about how much time is remaining for a task and when time is coming to an end for an activity. This
makes for a smoother transition.
Sometimes people just need a break. Use a communication button with a message like "I need a break".
Then set your visual timer to allow for a short break.
Use communication buttons that show various ways to chill out. Let the individual pick the calming
"I can play with my squishy ball."
"I can hide under my weighted blanket."
"I can listen to music."
Record music clips on several Talk About! Buttons and mount them in the "chill out" area. Put pictures
that represent the type of music on the button. Then the user can choose what to listen to. Free music
downloads for educators can be found at sites such as http://www.adaptivetechsolutions.com/.
Individuals with ASD often need reminders throughout the day in order to stay calm and directed. Record
a message with calming techniques on communication buttons that the individual can listen to throughout
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