Will NOT Using His AT Device “Force” My Son to Talk More?

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My 12 year old son has autism and MR. He has some speech, but could use much improvement. His teacher does not want his Assistive Technology (AT) device in the classroom.

His teacher said without the device, “He will be forced to talk more.”

  • Can your son write easily?
  • Does your son have good communication skills?
  • Has your son had an AT evaluation?
  • What does your son’s IEP say about AT devices and services?

Choosing to use an AT device is not optional for a teacher.  If written in the IEP, the device must be used in the classroom.  Some teachers do not want children to use AT devices because they do not know how to use the device or assist the child.

The law requires schools to provide AT services, including training for the teachers, child, and family. Your child’s teacher may need training so she understands the importance of the device for your child and knows how the device works. If so, this training needs to be written in the IEP.

Resistance from School Personnel

When dealing with resistance from the teacher or school about using AT, Dr. Dave Edyburn has some excellent responses/strategies for AT negotiations.

School says:  We don’t want him to become dependent on a text-reader…when will he ever learn to read…

Parent response:  …Since the student doesn’t have the independent reading skills and the expectations in grade 4 and beyond is to access large amounts of text, how will you demonstrate that he has access to the curriculum without a text-reader?

Adjust the statements to your son’s situation since your son has limited verbal skills. How can you demonstrate my son has access to the curriculum without having some method/device for good communication.

You’ll find Dr. Edyburn’s strategies on our Assistive Technology page.

This page has comprehensive information and resources about the requirements for AT devices, services, evaluations, and training. https://www.wrightslaw.com/info/atech.index.htm

IDEA and the federal regulations are clear about the requirement for the IEP team to consider special factors, specifically language and communication needs and the need for AT,  for each child. (Wrightslaw: Special Ed Law, p. 103 and Chapter 5, Wrightslaw: All About IEPs)

  1. I wanted to write from a teacher’s perspective. I was asked to use an amplifier once for a hearing impaired student. While I would not think of refusing to do something required by an IEP, I do admit I was not entirely comfortable, at first. It really helped when the special ed aide took time to talk to me about how to use it, what the benefits were (for the entire class) and why using it would help the student. I do think the issue for some teachers is lack of training. I feel fortunate to have worked with such a personable and helpful special ed. aide.

  2. I read the strategies from Dr. Edyburn’s which are on target. Some staff members are not informed and do not understand AT or how to use it. Many staff members are eager to learn but are not given training opportunities. A lot of support personnel in the classrooms are not trained to help the students with AT devices. As a parent, I, with my child, took classes on the AT devices. We were not going to depend on the school for their expertise, especially since they never heard of some of the devices. It all worked out in the end…but, never assume that the district staff know how to use the AT. I think parents must become experts on the technology in order to help their kids. Parents can also share that knowledge with the school district. Make it a partnership.

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