Assistive technology, also known as “adaptive technological devices”, or “technical aides”, are devices which allow individuals who have physical or cognitive challenges to independently control objects, toys and the environment (e.g. lighting, music, air conditioning etc.).
Technical aides are valuable learning tools for special needs children. They help children reach their developmental potential. They have the potential to increase a child’s control over his/her environment; provide the opportunity for age appropriate experiences; and increase a child’s ability to learn through play and to communicate.
Some examples of these presently in use at the Child Development Centre include:
- Switches: These are basically on/off switches that come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Children can use them to activate different mechanisms. They are activated in a number of ways, such as pushing them, motion of your head, and using your voice. These switches enable the child to independently turn toys or devices on/off.
- Control Units: which expand the potential use of switches e.g., a timer which keeps an appliance such as a tape deck, on for a period of time. This removes the necessity for the child with reduced physical endurance to hold onto the switch to keep it going themselves.
- Battery adapted toys: These toys have been adapted so that they can be activated via a switch. We have a large range of toys to meet the different play skills, age levels and preferences of different children.
- Computers: These are used to develop the children’s early thinking and interaction skills such as imitation and matching skills; turn taking, visual tracking, attention control, choice making, visual motor skills and fine motor control. They can be used to enhance development of language skills such as following directions and vocabulary. There are also programs targeting early academic and pre-reading skills. The Centre has a number of adaptations which allow children with limited physical abilities to use the computer on their own. These include touch windows and ports to install switches.
- Augmentative Communication Devices: These include ‘voice output’ devices which ‘speak’ with prerecorded messages, for the non-verbal child when he/she activates the device.
- At present assistive technology is used in therapy, in the preschool and in the daycares. There is also a loan program enabling families of children with special needs to borrow switches and other equipment.
- The assistive technology team usually consists of an Occupational Therapist, Speech Language Pathologist, an Early Childhood Educator and a Physiotherapist.
- What Services does Assistive Technology Offer?
- Purchasing and maintenance of all existing equipment
- Toy Loan Program
- Augmentative Communication Equipment Loan