Assisted Technology for Children with Autism
There are various modes of technology that can be used for children with autism to increase or improve their expressive communication skills, social interaction, organization skills, attention skills, and overall understanding of their environment and independent daily functioning skills. Children with autism usually process visual information easier than audio information. You could easily use dry erase boards, photo albums, or overhead projectors, but being a 21st century learner allows them to use the computer and web 2.0. Therefore, visual representation systems, such as objects, photographs, realistic drawings, line drawings, and written words, can be used with assorted modes of technology, as long as the child can readily comprehend the visual representation. Some visual representation software systems available through web 2.0 are Boardmaker and Connectability's Visual Engine. The Connectability’s Visual Engine will also help autistic children not only to build visual supports, but sequences, as well.
A barrier to the Boardmaker program would be when using line drawings, you should take extra caution in determining whether to use black/white or color picture communication symbols, as some children with autism may prefer or dislike specific colors. They may focus only on the color instead of processing the entire picture. This will render the Picture Communication Symbol virtually meaningless to the children as they are not processing the entire picture. This needs to be considered when using any visual information.
When using these programs autistic children will need assistance from another student, a teacher, parent, or someone else reliable to assist them.
http://www.specialed.us/autism/assist/asst10.htm
http://connectability.ca/visuals-engine/
http://www.mayer-johnson.com/category/boardmaker-family/

Extension on topic of Assistive technology for children with Autism: Specifically from the Journal Family Center on Technology and Disability, Issue 130 The article titled: Autism and the iPad: Voices, Finding the Therapy in Consumer Tech, from an interview with Wina Sagen, MA, CCC\SLP, speech\language Pathologist at Lakeside Center for Autism in Issaquah, WA. Foudner of (iLearn program)

This article addresses some of the same issues that individuals with Autism face in regards to communication, social engagement, daily living and social skills. The iPad also has the ability to assist in the areas of executive planning, creating schedules,(written, pictorial or with photos taken from the iPad’s camera) and building independence for individuals with Autism. The iPad offers families and individuals a less expensive alternative for assistive technology. There are many expensive devices, such as the “Tango” with a price of seven thousand dollars, which from my own personal experience is not as user friendly as the iPad. iLearn program is out of Seattle at the Lakeside Center for Autism (LCA), which is under the direction of Vina Sargent. The iLearn program works with individuals and families to effectively incorporate apps for apple products such as the iPad, iPod or iTouch. This is not the only work they do with individuals and families with Autism, but it has become a necessity and demand for families who have purchased or want to purchase a device for their child who has Autism and they want to learn how to better equip themselves and their children for the 21st century using 21st century tools.
It is evident that there are many Apps whether free or purchased have made a huge impact on the lives of individuals with disabilities, not just individuals with Autism. That being said, there are many barriers that will need to be overcome in order to allow full access of iPads at school and in the community. Here are a few that are mentioned in the article as well as some from my own personal experiences teaching and incorporating Apps for the computer, iPad, iPhone and or iTouch devices with individuals with Autism in the school and home setting. Some of the barriers for the schools are liability; access to Wireless networks that can handle multiple devices in addition to their school purchased mobile devices, security concerns when allow public access to Wireless logins. There is a lack of experience for educators, parents and students in the effective and efficient use of the iPad Apps in the classroom. There would need to be training for teachers, families and building staff that might be responsible for managing and assisting the child with a disability to effectively program and use the device in a way that will assist in communication and provide access to the general education curriculum. There is also the barrier of students just clicking and going in and out of programs that are not related to the lesson or for the purpose of communication and participation in class discussion. It is important to recognize just having the device without the proper training is a huge barrier for successful implementation and use in the school setting as well as to help the child learn how to use the device as their voice or as a learning tool; otherwise it is just a toy!! It is only considered “Assistive Technology” If the individual could not perform the task or participate in the activity without the device.


https://docs.google.com/document/d/1loqdLAHhMEL58Q-EgQfy1d_ROMKFuN-8U8nZwslbOnM/edit

George-Prater, Carla,(2010) Research paper: Impact of Technology on Autism