Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Assistive Technology

Therapists of all kinds in school settings “get” Assistive Technology (AT). Occupational therapists use adapted toys and modify school tools like scissors, pencils and crayons.  Special grips, braces, and weights help kids be more successful with school tasks.  Behavioral therapists employ weighted vests, soft brushes or squishy balls to soothe anxious or distracted kids.  Speech/language pathologists use switches, communication boards, and computers to support the communication needs of kids with disabilities.  Physical therapists’ vans are loaded with walkers, standers, chair wedges, and equipment that support large muscles for mobility and stability.

Assistive Technology makes advances every day.  It’s hard to keep up.  And if you’re a classroom teacher, knowing how to match the right tool for the right task to the right student, the challenges are compounded.  Most teachers use some form of AT without even realizing it.  Those colored overlays you use for struggling readers:  AT.  That large-print book for the kid with glasses:  AT.  The spell-checker that you provided to the kid finds editing more trouble than it’s worth:  AT.
With so many options available, it’s hard to know what tool, system, or program is best.  But there are several really good formats to guide you and the educational team through the process of selecting the right form of AT.  We have to take prerequisite skills, parent wishes, learning goals, budgets, and most importantly, the student’s needs and abilities into account. 

Chances are good your staff would benefit from a PLC about Assistive Technology.  Take a look at the online learning module offered by PLC Consultants.  It can put a spotlight on real answers to real problems with real kids. 

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