Meeting Your Child’s Communication Needs – AT

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Assistive Technology does not have any devices that are suitable for my non verbal autistic 4 year old son in the EC program. I have videotaped him using an iPad. He meets the goals when using this iPad. The IEP Team is not the problem. It’s the Board of Education not knowing how to implement the technology in the schools.

You need to find an expert who will evaluate your child and make strong recommendations about what he needs from an educational perspective.

You say, it’s not the IEP team that is blocking this. It’s a school systemic problem called “school culture.”

If you, a parent says “My child needs an iPad”, that’s the last device the school will consider. Even if you were an AT expert, it would be hard because you are the parent first, and schools do not want to “give in” to parents.

Most states have AT experts who do evaluations, make recommendations, and educate the educators. Your child is four and non-verbal.

If you haven’t had a comprehensive speech language evaluation, it’s time to have that done by an evaluator who is independent of the school district.

Another idea: Subscribe to CEC News Brief, a free daily newsletter for special educators. The newsletter is published daily and often includes you’ll find articles about using the iPad as a tool to educate children with various disabilities, including If you subscribe, that will help you stay in the loop.

For example, this one was published on 3/22:

“Are iPads really a “miracle device” for children with autism?”

“The iPad has been touted by many as a ‘miracle device’ for children with autism, but Australian researcher and author Daniel Donahoo argues that the potential of the iPad relies on the way it’s used by therapists, educators and parents to actively support a child’s development.”

“The miracle there, as it always has been, is the parents and professionals who work with children with autism,” writes Donahoo, who also warns against overuse of the device as a distraction or sensory stimulation for children.

The April 2011 issue of the LDOnline newsletter focuses on AT and ipads with questions to their AT Expert:

“Where can we find information about apps for the iPad in special education?:

Here is a great list of questions and answers about AT that includes the ipad:

Check here for more on Apps for Children with Special Needs

The key is finding an expert who knows your child and how he learns and that he needs to be able to communicate, and who is willing to meet with the people who are acting as gatekeepers.

Learn more

AT –  Devices and Services

Assistive Technology

  1. Dad2Luke – (part 2) This is why we encourage parents to get a comprehensive evaluation by an expert in the private sector. We also recommend that parents ask the evaluator to attend the IEP meeting to discuss their findings, explain their recommendations re: the type of program the child needs, and to answer other questions. It’s more difficult for the team to “consider” then ignore an evaluation when the person is sitting at the table with them.

  2. I must admit I am having a hard time reconciling the statement in this article that if a parent suggests something that it will be the last thing considered by an IEP team, with the often repeated statement (it is also in a Wrightslaw book) that parents are (by necessity) experts on their children.

    On the other hand my experience fully supports this view….

    • Dad2Luke – you are correct. We do say parents are experts on their children. But here’s the glitch – from the perspective of the school staff, parents are outsiders. Unfortunately, “school culture” prevents school staff from realizing that sometimes, parents really do know what their children need.

      If you’ve read Wrightslaw: From Emotions to Advocacy, 2nd Edition and articles on you know about gatekeepers, why schools say no, etc. and how to resolve problems and improve the odds for a good outcome. Thanks for commenting. You probably are not the only one wondering about that statement. We’ll post about this problem, provide some answers, and include resources everyone can use to overcome these obstacles. Stay tuned.

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