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.

Learn more at https://www.nidcd.nih.gov/health/assistive-devices-people-hearing-voice-speech-or-language-disorders

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/