A Paratore


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A Paratore

  1. 1. NOT  FOR  DISTRIBUTION   Assistive  Technologies  –  Students  with  Special  Needs:       What  are  assistive  technologies?  An  assistive  technology  device  is  an  item,  piece  of  equipment  or  product  system  that  “is  used  to  increase,  maintain,  or  improve  the  functional  capabilities  of  a  child  with  a  disability",  (Roblyer  &  Doering,  2010,  p.412).    Assistive  technologies,  both  hardware  and  software,  can  also  be  called  inclusive  technologies  or  specialised  technologies,  (Farrall  &  O’Connor,  2010).    Some  examples  of  both  low-­‐tech  and  high-­‐tech  assistive  technologies  include  joysticks,  speech  synthesizers,  screen  magnifiers  and  touch  screens,  (Snowman  &  Biehler,  2006).     Why  are  assistive  technologies  significant  to  K-­6  Educators?  We  must  remember  that  students  with  special  needs  may  need  to  be  catered  for  in  a  variety  ways,  and  can  truly  benefit  from  using  assistive  technologies  (Newby,  Stepich,  Lehman  &  Russell,  2006).  The  purpose  of  assistive  technologies  is  to  use  technology  in  a  way  that  can  “offer  an  individual  with  a  disability  increased  opportunities  for  learning,  productivity  and  independence  -­  opportunities  that  otherwise  would  not  be  available",  (Roblyer  &  Doering,  2010,  p.408).  Assistive  technologies  can  help  special  needs  students  feel  included  in  the  classroom.  Educators  have  a  duty  to  be  researching  assistive  technologies,  and  implementing  them  into  learning  experiences,  (Foreman,  2008).     An  example  of  an  assistive  technology  tool  -­   How  Apple  iPod  Touch-­screen  and  iPad  Applications  can  help  children  with  Autism:  What  is  Autism?  Autism  spectrum  disorders  (ASDs)  are  a  “range  of  disorders  involving  a  triad  of  impairments  of  social  interaction,  verbal  and  nonverbal  communication,  and  restricted,  repetitive  and  stereotyped  patterns  of  behaviour,  activities,  and  interests”,  (Jurgens,  Anderson  &  Moore,  2009,  p.66).    These  difficulties  in  verbal  communication,  non  verbal  communication  and  social  interaction,  can  severely  affect  educational  performances  (Snowman  &  Biehler,  2006).    How  can  iPod  Touch  and  Ipad  applications  make  a  difference?  ASDs  affect  1in  160  children  born  today  (Aspect,  2010),  and  many  of  these  children  “are  schooled  in  mainstream  classrooms”,  (Rossmanith,  2008,  p.31).  Educators  must  cater  for  these  students  and  recognise  that  students  with  ASDs  “appear  to  have  a  superior  visual  memory  and  visual  ability”,  (Foreman,  2008,  p.352).  It  is  also  crucial  to  understand  that  these  students  have  extreme  difficulties  with  communication  and  social  interaction.    There  are  many  assistive  technologies  that  can  help  children  with  ASDs  in  their  daily  living  and  learning.  However,  one  recent  discovery  has  been  how  the  Apple  iPod  Touch  and  iPad  can  serve  as  learning  tools  for  children  with  ASDs  (Mason,  2011).    “Touch  screens  are  the  most  direct  and  simple  method  of  computer  access  and  interaction”,  (Farrall  &  O’Connor,    
  2. 2. NOT  FOR  DISTRIBUTION  2010,  p.35).  Keeping  in  mind,  “their  visual  skills  are  superior  to  their  other  skills,  and  90  per  cent  have  a  visual  learning  style”,  (Rossmanith,  2008,  p.31),  touch  screen  devices  are  attractive  and  comforting  for  a  student  with  an  ASD  (AutismNewsWire,  2011).  Children  with  ASDs  can  struggle  to  stay  still  in  the  classroom  (Rossmanith,  2008),  and  educators  often  give  students  something  to  manipulate  in  their  hands.  These  Apple  devices  can  serve  this  need  directly,  as  children  hold  the  device  in  their  own  two  hands  and  control  the  touch  screen  themselves.  There  are  a  variety  of  applications  that  can  be  used  on  the  iPod  Touch  and  iPad  that  “are  designed  specifically  for  students  with  autism  and  other  special  need”,  (Hall,  2011).  Many  of  these  applications  help  students  communicate  and  create  in  ways  they  haven’t  been  able  to  before.  “Students  who  have  complex  communication  needs  may  need  to  use  assistive  technology  to  communicate  with  others”,  (Farrall  &  O’Connor,  2010,  p.35).  Applications  like  the  Grace  application  and  Proloquo2go  act  as  digital  versions  of  the  Picture  Exchange  Communication  System,  used  often  with  children  with  ASDs  (Moses,  2010).  Students  are  able  to  express  exactly  how  they  are  feeling  at  the  time  or  request  what  they  need  by  simply  touching  a  picture  on  the  screen  (Moses,  2010).  “  Through  the  devices,  some  of  these  children  have  been  able  to  communicate  their  thoughts  to  adults  for  the  first  time”,  (Harrell,  2010).  ‘Stories2learn’  allows  teachers  and  parents  to  create  social  stories  that  can  remind  students  of  how  to  respond  appropriately  in  social  situations  and  can  ease  anxiety  for  students  who  “need  support  with  excursions,  routings,  or  transitions”,  (JEFFRY,  2010).    There  are  also  “dozens  of  other  programs  touted  by  various  experts  in  the  autism  community”,  (AutismNewsWire,  2011).  Interactive  story  books  are  easily  accessible  and  increase  reading  skills,  counting,  vocabulary  building  and  spelling  games  can  be  strongly  linked  to  English  and  Maths  outcomes,  visual  scheduling  applications  help  anxious  students  stay  calm  about  what  activities  will  occur  throughout  the  day,  and  drawing,  painting  and  musical  applications  can  allow  students  with  ASDs  to  create  and  relax  in  stressful  situations.  Teachers  can  monitor  their  students  learning  by  accessing  results  and  progress  through  storage  facilities  in  the  Apple  devices.  “Initial  studies  are  already  measuring  the  effectiveness  of  the  iPod  Touch  and  the  iPad  as  learning  tools  for  children  with  autism”,  (Harrell,  2010).  There  are  countless  blogs  and  articles  available,  bursting  with  personal  accounts  of  improvements  and  victories  for  families  and  teachers  with  ASD  children.  If  affording  the  device  is  the  issue,  parents  and  teachers  must  remember  that  there  are  organisations,  businesses,  and  philanthropic  foundations  that  can  provide  funding  or  grants  to  families  with  a  child  with  a  disability,  (Weikle  &  Hadadian,  2003).  There  are  various  applications  that  could  help  a  student  feel  comfortable  in  the  classroom  for  the  first  time.  Dont  ignore  an  assistive  technology  device  that  could  clearly  benefit  your  students’  experiences  at  school.  We  have  a  duty  as  educators  to  be  constantly  finding  new  ways  to  support  our  students.  Let  us  continue  to  research  how  these  devices  are  changing  school  and  home  learning  experiences  for  children  with  ASDs.    
  3. 3. NOT  FOR  DISTRIBUTION   Reason  for  digital  response:  My  desire  is  that  this  digital  response  regarding  assistive  technologies  will     raise  awareness  to  teachers  about  assistive  technologies  available  that  can  support  students  with  special     needs.  I  believe  touch  screen  devices  like  the  iPod  Touch  and  iPad  can  help  children  with  ASDs,  and  hope   this  digital  response  can  evoke  further  research  into  the  issue.  As  a  training  teacher  about  to  enter  the   References:   eed  to  be  aware  that  I  have  a  responsibility  to  cater  for  all  the  needs  of  my  students.  It  is   classroom,  I  n therefore  my  commitment  to  be  continually  researching  assistive  technologies  and  tools  available.  I  want   AutismNewsWire.  (2011).  Apple  iPad,  iPod  Touch  might  help  people  with  autism  take  steps  toward   to  support  each  one  of  my  students  and  help  them  progress  in  every  way  I  can.   independence.  Retrieved  February  19th,  2011,  from  The  Autism  News  Wire  Website:       http://theautismnewswire.com/NewsITems.aspx?newsID=265.     Autism  Spectrum  Australia.  (2010).  Teacher  knows  best  –  Identifying  children  with  autism.  Retrieved   February  20th,  2011,  from  The  Autism  Spectrum  Australia  (Aspect)  Website:     http://theautismnewswire.com/NewsITems.aspx?newsID=265.       Farrall,  J.,  &  O’Connor,  G.  (March,  2010).  Inclusive  learning  technologies:  supporting  students  of  all   abilities,  [Electronic  version].  Professional  Educator  –  Australian  College  Of  Educators,  9  (1),  34-­‐37.         Foreman,  P.  (2008).  Inclusion  in  Action.  (2nd  Ed.).  South  Melbourne,  Australia:  Cengage  Learning   Australia.     Hall,  S.,  S.  (2011,  January  31).  iPad  becoming  valuable  learning  tool  in  region’s  school.  The  Times-­ Tribune.  Retrieved  18th  February,  2011,  from  The  Austism  News  database:   http://www.theautismnews.com/2011/01/31/ipad-­‐becoming-­‐valuable-­‐learning-­‐tool-­‐in-­‐regions-­‐ schools/.       Harrell,  A.  (2010,  August  11).  iHelp  for  autism.  SF  Weekly.  Retrieved  20th  February,  2011,  from:   http://www.sfweekly.com/2010-­‐08-­‐11/news/ihelp-­‐for-­‐autism/.     JEFFRY.  (2010).  10  Revolutionary  iPad  Apps  to  help  autistic  children.  Retrieved  20th  February,  2011,   from  Gadgets  DNA  Website:   http://www.gadgetsdna.com/10-­‐revolutionary-­‐ipad-­‐apps-­‐to-­‐help-­‐autistic-­‐children/5522/.    
  4. 4. NOT  FOR  DISTRIBUTION      Jurgens,  A.,  Anderson,  A.  &    Moore,  D.  W.  (April,  2009).  The  effect  of  teaching  PECS  to  a  child  with  autism  on  verbal  behaviour,  play,  and  social  functioning.  [Electronic  version].  Behavior  Change,  26  (1),  66-­‐81.        Mason,  B.  (2011).  Cognitive  media:  Understanding  the  brain,  technology  and  autism.  Retrieved  February  17th,  2011,  from  The  Empower  Autism  Website:    http://empowerautism.com/wp-­‐content/uploads/2011/01/Cognitive-­‐Media-­‐Ben-­‐Mason.pdf.      Moses,  A.  (2010,  April  16).  Autism  iPhone  breakthrough:  from  tantrums  to  app-­‐y  days.  The  Sydney  Morning  Herald.  Retrieved  21st  February,  2011,  from:    http://www.smh.com.au/digital-­‐life/smartphone-­‐apps/autism-­‐iphone-­‐breakthrough-­‐from-­‐tantrums-­‐to-­‐appy-­‐days-­‐20100416-­‐sjjl.html.    Newby,  T.,  Stepich,  D.,  Lehman,  J.  &  Russell,  J.  (2006).  Educational  technology  for  teaching  and  learning  (3rd  Ed.).  New  Jersey:  Pearson  Education  Inc.    Roblyer,  M.D.,  &  Doering,  A.  (2010).  Integrating  educational  technology  into  teaching.  (5th  Ed.)  Boston:  Pearson  Education  Inc.    Rossmanith,  A.  (2008).  Integrating  autism.  [Electronic  version].  Australian  Educator,  60,  30-­‐33.        Snoman,  J.,  &  Biehler,  R.  (2006).  Psychology  applied  to  teaching  (11th  Ed.).  New  York:  Houghton  Mifflin  Company.        Weikle,  B.  &  Hadadian,  A.  (2003).  Can  assistive  technology  help  us  to  not  leave  any  child  behind?  Preventing  School  Failure.  47(4),  181-­‐186