Assistive Technology to Help a Student with Asperger’s Syndrome Succeed Academically
Students diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome face unique challenges when they enter the classroom. This condition is considered to be a form of high-functioning autism with fewer of the language and cognitive deficits. Many of these children primarily struggle with social interactions and an inability to recognize the nonverbal cues of the people around them. However, it may also present itself with a delay in motor skills compared to peers.
As technology continues to find its way into the classroom, assistive technology has really taken off. There are several options for devices and programs that could aid children with Asperger’s Syndrome toward better academic success.
Social Skills Programs
One of the hardest struggles to overcome for a child diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome is their inability to understand nonverbal cues. While these skills might be inherent for other children, the gap in understanding makes it difficult for children with Asperger’s to form relationships with peers. Assistive technology can help to fill in this missing knowledge with programs that can teach students to recognize the facial reactions and tones of voice from other individuals.
In the past, you might have referred to a personal organizer as a Palm Pilot or a BlackBerry. Most modern students have a variation on these two products, but they refer to them as smartphones instead. Children with Asperger’s Syndrome often have difficulty with planning, remembering, and executive functioning. Teachers and parents can enable children to be more independent by utilizing the calendar and alarms on these phones. You can remind students of an upcoming test, a homework assignment, and other important topics throughout the day.
Every child will have a slightly different presentation of symptoms, but many of them become easily frustrated. This could be in part because many of these children have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in addition to Asperger’s Syndrome. Allowing them to work at computers instead of with pencil and paper could be a way to ease some of their agitations. Typing and using the mouse can help them to build up the fine motor skills they could be lacking. This enables them to use speech-to-text and text-to-speech software if necessary.
Children with Asperger’s Syndrome often lack the ability to organize and group data together. One simple way of helping them to create a more predictable and stable environment for themselves is to allow them create a graphic organizer. A digital version of this (available through programs such as Inspiration) can help them to see all of their activities, data, and charts all in one spot. This program is used on tablets to make it portable around the school and at home.
Helping a child with Asperger’s Syndrome find tools to succeed in the classroom doesn’t have to be difficult. Identifying a particular child’s needs and difficulties is the first step in selecting assistive technology that truly works. Keep these needs in mind as you consider how these tools could help your child or student achieve academic success.