Assistive and Adaptive Technology and Autism
This page provides links to information about some of the assistive and augmentative technology commonly used to help individuals on the autism spectrum.
What is Assistive Technology?
Assistive or adaptive technology commonly refers to "...products, devices or equipment, whether acquired commercially, modified or customized, that are used to maintain, increase or improve the functional capabilities of individuals with disabilities".
Assistance and adaptive technology is sometimes divided into high tech (uses electronic equipment) and low tech (does not use electronic equipment).
Many interventions which use assistive or adaptive technology also appear in other types of intervention. For example, some behavioural interventions (such as theory of mind training, video modelling, and visual schedules) rely on technology for their delivery.
Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC)
Augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) involves alternate methods of communicating needs, feelings, ideas, and perceptions through the use of electronic and non-electronic devices that provide a means for expressive and receptive communication for persons with limited or no speech.
Specific forms of technology-based AAC include
- Low tech systems such as communication boards and books; the pictures used in the Picture Exchange Communication System
- Hi tech systems include mobilie and portable devices (including phones and tablets); voice output communication aids (speech generating devices)
For more information on this group of interventions please see Augmentative and Alternative Communication
Computer Access Aids, Daily Living Aids, Education and Learning Aids, Recreation and Leisure Aids
- Computer access aids include hardware (such as mobile devices) and software (such as apps) that enable people to access, interact with, and use computers.
- Daily living (or functional) aids are devices and tools (such as videos) which are designed to help people perform daily living activities, such as getting dressed, getting around safely and so on.
- Education and learning aids (such as robots and visual schedules) are designed to help people cope with educational tasks such as reasoning, decision making, problem solving etc.
- Recreation and leisure aids (such as models and toys) are designed to help people participate in sports, social, cultural events.
For more information on this group of interventions please see Technology-Based Interventions
Motor aids refer to any devices and tools which make use of, or which aim to improve, motor functioning i.e. control, coordination and movement of the whole body or parts of the body.
Sensory aids refer to any devices and tools which make use of, or which aim to improve sensitivity to, one or more of the senses.
Specific types of aids include:
- Environmental aids (such as workspaces) which are designed to remove or reduce physical barriers for individuals with disabilities.
- Hearing and listening aids (such as noise cancelling headphones) which are designed to help people gain a better sense of, and more control over, their hearing and auditory processing.
- Multi-sensory aids (such as multi-sensory environments), which make use of many different tools and devices at the same time.
- Positioning aids (such as therapy ball chairs) which are designed to help people gain a better sense of, and more control over, their own balance and coordination.
- Tactile aids (such as weighted blankets) which are designed to help people gain a better sense of, and more control over, their own tactile sensitivity.
- Vision and reading aids (such as coloured filters) which are designed to help people gain a better sense of, and or more control over, their vision.
For more information on this group of interventions please see Motor Sensory Interventions
We use the term medical devices to refer to any tools which are used within medical procedures, particulary those medical procedures which are being used in an alternative or 'off-label' way.
Specific medical devices include those used in:
- biofeedback including electromyogram, heart rate variability biofeedback and neurofeedback training.
- hyperbaric therapy
- transcranial stimulation including transcranial direct stimulation and transcranial magnetic stimulation.
For more information on this group of interventions please see Medical Procedures
Please see Publications on Assistive and Adaptive Technology and Autism
- 13 Nov 2015