What Are Assistive Technologies?
Assistive technology (AT) device is “any item, piece of equipment, or product system, whether acquired commercially off the shelf, modified, or customized, that is used to increase, maintain, or improve functional capabilities of individuals with disabilities” (Technology Related Assistance to Individuals with Disabilities Act of 1988). Such technologies can be “high” or “low tech” (from canes to voice recognition and speech generation devices). More information on different types of AT can be found at https://at.mo.gov/information-resources-publications/documents/Autism.pdf
AT for Communication Skills
Some individuals with ASD may be non-verbal or have difficulties understanding social cues or conversation. Speech generating devices may help such individuals. This can be a standalone device or specialized software installed on a tablet of phone.
AT for Social Skills
Social skills is often a challenge for individuals with ASD. There are many applications to help individuals with ASD develop social skills that range from teaching facial expressions, to academic and social learning, to helping deal with stress and maladaptive behaviors. You can find some examples at https://informingfamilies.org/assitive-technology/
Daily Living Skills
Daily living skills, such as hygiene, organization skills, and recreational skills, are important for individuals with ASD to master on their path towards independence.
You can find some examples at https://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Assistive_Technology_in_Education/Life_Skills#Software_Offering_Functional_Skill_Content
Where to Find Information on Such Devices
You can check out the following recources:
Association of Assistive Technology Act Programs: https://www.ataporg.org/
AbleData: Tools and Technologies to Enhance Life: https://abledata.acl.gov/
When an individual engages in negative behaviors, such as a tantrum or aggression, it is important to focus on the safety of the individual, those around them, and property.
In case of emergency, call 9-1-1!
Indiana’s Adult Abuse Hotline: Report any types of adult (18+ y.o.) abuse (e.g., neglect, battery, or exploitation) who may be incapable due to mental illness or other physical or mental incapacity to Adult Protective Services. State hotline: 1-800-992-6978. For more information or to report online: www.in.gov/fssa/da/3479.htm
Indiana’s Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline: Call 1-800-800-5556 to report child abuse (e.g., physical abuse, sexual abuse) and neglect allegations. Help is available 24/7.
Suicide hotline: Call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) to talk to a counselor at Lifeline crisis center near you. Help is available 24/7. For more information: www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org
SAMHSA’s National Helpline (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, also known as the Treatment Referral Routing Service): Call 1-800-662-HELP (4357). Help available 24/7. For more information: www.findtreatment.samhsa.gov
When to Ask for Help?
Individuals with ASD experience many challenges. However, it is important for parents and caregivers to recognize when they need to seek help:
- Aggression, self-injury or other changes in behavior, like irritability or anxiety, are recurrent, persistent, and have strong negative impact onto those around them
- Dangerous or unsafe behaviors that are challenging to manage or contain (e.g., elopement and wandering)
- Threats of suicide
- Regression in skills
Supporting Families through the LifeCourse with Julie Reynolds, DDRS
Insurance and Advocating with Michele Trivedi, The Arc of Indiana
Indiana Systems of Care: Strengthening Our Communities with Jayme Whitacker, FSSA, DMHA and Christy Gauss, IDOE
Kelsey Cowley’s Fellowship on Sexual Abuse, Violence, and Prevention
As part of a fellowship program through the Self-Advocacy Resource and Technical Assistant Center (SARTAC), Kelsey Cowley, Vice-President of Self-Advocates of Indiana, developed information and resources regarding sexual abuse and violence against people with disabilities, and steps for prevention. Learn more