2001 Conference Proceedings

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Incorporating "Low" and "Mid" Tech Strategies into All Aspects of Daily Living for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)

Susan Stokes
Autism Coordinator CESA 6
Program Coordinator, CESA 6 First Step Autism Program

For years, diverse modes of technology have been used with people who have various developmental disabilities to enhance their overall quality of living in all facets of their lives, as documented many times over in the literature. However, the varied use of technology for people with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) continues to receive limited attention despite the fact that technology tends to be a high interest area for many of these children. For children with autism, we generally use assistive technology for several purposes:

This session will discuss how various modes of technology (even technology which is designed as augmentative communication systems), can be used for children with autism spectrum disorder to increase or improve their:

Improvement in these skill areas typically results in an overall decrease in the occurrence of challenging behaviors.


According to the Technology-Related Assistance for Individuals with Disabilities Act of 1988 (Public Law 100-407), assistive technology device means 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. Assistive technology service is any service that directly assists an individual with a disability in the selection, acquisition, or use of an assistive technology device.

Research has documented that people with autism spectrum disorder process visual information more readily than auditory information. Any time we use assistive technology with these children, we’re giving them information through their strongest processing channel (visual). Therefore, various types of technology from “low” tech to “high” tech, should be incorporated into every aspect of daily living in order to improve the functional capabilities of children with autism spectrum disorder.

This session will outline various skill areas commonly focused on for children with autism spectrum disorder with supporting technology strategies defined as follows:

The following skill areas will be addressed through both “low” and “mid” tech strategies:

Comprehension Skills: Increasing a child’s comprehension of tasks, activities and situations is essential in addressing skill areas such as organization, attending, self-help, following directions, following rules and modifying behavior, resulting in an overall increase in the child’s independent functioning.

Expressive Communication Skills: Children with autism spectrum disorder present with significant expressive communication difficulties, whether preverbal or verbal. Therefore, various “low” and “mid” tech strategies can address and support children who are at either level of communication skill development.

Social Skills: Children with autism spectrum disorder need to be directly taught various social skills in one-to-one and/or small group settings. Numerous “low” and “”mid” tech strategies can be used for this purpose. Social skills training will also need to consider the child’s possible difficulties in generalizing this information across different social situations, which can be supported through various “low” tech strategies.

Academics: Various academic skills can be focused on and supported through the use of “low” and “mid” tech strategies.

It is interesting to note that the majority of strategies to be discussed in this session fall under the category of “low” technology and should therefore be easily accessible to all at a relatively low cost. It is important to consider that all of these suggestions, both “low” tech and “mid” tech should always be individualized to meet the unique needs of any child with autism spectrum disorder. Most importantly, use of these varied modes of technology will greatly increase the child’s independent functioning skills by decreasing the amount of direct support needed from another person.

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