Growing up as a young autistic child can bring many challenges. However, there are many new tools and technologies available to help young autistic children with their development. My autistic cousins, Lucas (9) and Ethan (6), have used technology in many ways to help develop their ability to communicate and learn. These technologies are used not only in their schools, but with their therapists and parents at home to support their learning. Keeping up to date with these technologies can make a big difference in the lives of young autistic children, as it has with Lucas and Ethan.
Communication through AAC
One useful technology that my cousins have found useful are AAC apps. AAC stands for Augmentative and Alternative Communication. These are apps that assist kids in communicating if they have trouble doing so verbally. There are many different AAC apps that serve this purpose. One of these apps is named Touch Chat. This app was created by a company that makes AAC devices. It gives the person using it many pictures to choose from to help them communicate. The pictures correspond to words or phrases that a voice in the app will read out loud, allowing others to hear what the person using the app wants to say. This makes it much easier for them to communicate what they are trying to say. The words on the app can be adjusted to be appropriate for different age groups. With a typical AAC device, the user can select from many pictures to hear the corresponding words spoken. This resource explains AAC devices in-depth, including pictures and videos.
Another useful AAC app is DynaVox Compass. This app lets the user pick between which visual boards work best for them based on a setup questionnaire. The user can either type words or draw pictures if they’re having trouble thinking of words. Plus, if a child is doing well with a specific board, they can easily switch to a more advanced one. Avaz is another AAC app which has a convenient sidebar that has access to all of the different areas in the app you might want to go to. It helps in learning a range of terms from common vocabulary words to very specific ones. CoughDrop is an AAC app that has many different pictures with words associated with them that users can click on. This can help kids learn to put together words in a sentence. Also, it can be used offline for anytime use. These are just some of the AAC apps that are very useful to autistic people.
Language and Literacy
In addition to helping autistic kids communicate, technology can help build important skills. Raz-Kids is a website that helps children with reading. It can guide kids on the levels of books they should be reading based on how they do on a reading comprehension quiz. This means that the books won’t be too easy or too hard for the child reading. This app can help autistic kids because it can read words on the page aloud so they can learn how to say the words themselves. The site has hundreds of books for each of the different levels so each kid will have many different options.
LAMP is a process used for helping communicate with autistic kids. LAMP stands for Language Acquisition through Motor Planning. It is a type of therapy that helps non-speaking kids learn to express themselves using an AAC device. Many autistic kids learn better visually, so LAMP teaches kids using activities and visuals they can see rather than making them listen to something. This can help autistic kids learning anything from first words to fluent sentences. You can check out my cousin Lucas learning using LAMP here.
Technology has helped my cousins, Lucas and Ethan, in many ways. First, it motivates them to try to communicate more often during the day. They engage more in communicating because the process is much simpler for them. Also, as visual learners, the material they learn on these apps comes much easier to them and they are excited to learn new things. This has encouraged their parents to challenge them with new material knowing that they will be more engaged in the process of learning. It has expanded what their parents thought they were capable of learning at this age.
Technology plays a big part in helping autistic kids. It does this in many ways including AAC apps, like CoughDrop, or through learning websites like Razkids. Processes like LAMP are another great way for supporting visual learners like Lucas and Ethan. More advanced technologies are being developed to support autistic learners and improve diagnosis using artificial intelligence, which you can learn more about on my blog here. Staying current with these advanced technologies will help young and old autistic people learn and communicate in new and innovative ways.
Bobby Bress is a 13-year-old who has two autistic cousins. He is an 8th grade student who feels very strongly about Autism Awareness. Bobby is also interested in the development of various technologies and how they are used to help those in need. Bobby writes his own blog, Technology Progression, on how different technologies have progressed over the years.