Autism and Life Skills: Tools Matter!

Have you ever tried to open a jar with all of your might, but you just can’t twist it open?

Then you remember that you have this thingy in the drawer that’s supposed to do the job, and presto magic, voila it opens with ease!

The right tools for the job matter!  

Tools that make tasks easier for students with a disabilities are called assistive technology devices, or AT.  Assistive technology enables students to participate more fully in all aspects of their education, including at school, home and the community. 
Assistive technology can be especially helpful to students with autism because AT devices or services can help them work around their challenges in academic achievement skills or with functional performance.
AT can be low-tech, mid-tech or high-tech: 
Low-tech:  Anything that does not require electricity, this can include sand timers, sensory balls, weighted vests, PECS, pencil grip and visual schedules.
Mid-tech:  Designed to be relatively inexpensive and easy to operate, this can include batter-operated sensory toys, visual timers, and social skills videos.
High-tech:  This is digital technology and can include anything from an augmentative communication device for non-verbal students and computer programs for reading to robots built to increase Social skills.

Your child’s IEP team must ensure that assistive technology devices or services are made available to your child if needed. You can start by calling an IEP team meeting to discuss AT with your child’s team.  You can also request an assistive technology evaluation to determine your child’s needs.

I was introduced to AT when I went back to school to get an additional degree as a disability specialist.  This where my affection for AT bloomed and the seeds of the Life Skills Lady were planted.  After years of advocating for students with autism and my experience with my own son, I have seen first hand that life skills and the right tools for the task go together like peas and carrots.